ARBORETUM NEWS (EARTH PARTNERSHIP FOR SCHOOLS)

RESTORE Leadership Institute Madison, July 13-29, 2009

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2009

For RESTORE 2009, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought teams from Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD; Partners in Fish and Wildlife, Tulsa, OK; Cabo Rojo NWR, Boqueron, PR; and FWS Region 8 Schoolyard Habitat Program, Sacramento, CA. They were joined by teams from the Vieques Historic and Cultural Trust, Chequamegon National Forest “More Kids in the Woods,” Laona, WI, Green Lake WI School District, Madison WI Metropolitan School District, Michigan State University, Kellogg Biological Station, MI; Prairieview Education Center, McHenry County and DuPage County Forest Preserve, Fullersburg Woods, IL. Students from UW-Madison and Antioch University, NH also participated

The RESTORE teams will return to their home communities, implement EPS Schoolyard Restoration curricula and projects, plan, recruit participants and resources and implement a one-week EPS Professional Development Institute for local and regional teachers in the summer of 2010. Look for updates in the EPS Centers section. Here are some quotes from participants:

“Earth Partnerships For Schools’ RESTORE Leadership Institute was about far more than prairie restoration and stewardship. Yes, it taught the participants some amazing strategies in engaging youth and the community in proper lessons and techniques to meaningful restoration work. But for me, it helped me to learn to restore so much more than land. It helped restore my faith in my job as an outdoor education director. It helped restore my faith in teachers and their desire to connect youth with nature. It restored an awesome friendship I have with a life long friend. It restored and rekindled a fire and desire inside of me that I thought had been extinguished. It restored my motivation to take strides in restoring a historical section of Parkway where I work and live. It restored my belief in the importance of family and friends. Who would have thought that a summer course in Madison, Wisconsin, would have opened my eyes and heart to all of this? ... Thank you for a profound life-changing experience!”

“The next big mountain in my three dimensional puzzle is the concept of using the restored land for research, not just any research, kid-formed research. For me, this journey was always about restoring the land and using that as an educational tool. Getting the kids outside was good enough. I’ve come to realize that, no, it’s not! It’s allowing the kids to see problems that occur in a restoration and think of solutions to try and really test them out to see if their ideas succeed or fail. My favorite quote is ‘The prairie is not here to be a perfect prairie; it is here for the students to research how to make it better.’ After this, I could think of nothing else. As adults and teachers, we want to give our children the answers. Of course we know best, right? Not always, and really, by giving them the questions and sometimes the answers, what are they learning? With giving them problems or them discovering the problems themselves and allowing them to create a hypothesis and test their ideas not only teaches them so much more, it gives them ownership in what they are doing, and we may learn new things from them. My internal teacher has always thought that we need to nurture and encourage children to question and wonder about things. I’m glad to see that this program helps teachers do this.”

“I think art should be part of every day in a classroom, and the RESTORE curriculum offers many innovative ideas for incorporating acting (The Rain Shadow play), drawing (The Visual Assessment), and self-expression (Phenology Wheels.) I’m excited about incorporating all three of these activities into my classroom curriculum. The Phenology Wheels will not only be helpful with seasonal observations, but also with astronomy and heritage studies in my classroom. It will be a great way of tying all of my teaching together with a common thread.”

“At school, plans are in place to restore our courtyard and include a rain garden. My high school students with special needs will be both excited and challenged by this project. The excitement will come in inspiring my students to find how their individual talents can contribute to the restoration process. My math wizards can measure the slope, lead the site design in plotting the square footage and measuring tree height and size. My artists and authors can design maps, create prairie plant identification cards for teaching purposes, design identification tags for various plants in the rain garden and design phenology wheels depicting the seasons of the courtyard. My scientists can perform soil analysis, calculate wind speed and direction during site analysis and utilize the compasses. The big challenge is still to come—keeping the flames of enthusiasm burning when attention spans and behaviors in my students change course. Knowing I have a solid team of committed people, my Earth Partnership friends in Green Lake and beyond, reassures me that we can do this and we are supported.”

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.