Earth Partnership Shares in First-Ever University and Community Partnership Award


Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS), Georgia Gómez-Ibánez and the Cambridge School District receive Chancellor Ward’s University and Community Partnership award! This first-ever award is given to individuals and programs that create lasting connections between UW-Madison and local communities. On June 12, a reception at the Olin House recognized EPS and 5 other awardees celebrating innovative approaches to education, health, the arts, scientific inquiry and civic involvement.

The Cambridge Earth Partnership team has been involved in schoolyard habitat restoration at the school and school forest since 1992. Teachers participated in 760 hours of professional development sustained over successive years. Although Georgia Gómez-Ibánez officially retired, she is still helping her colleagues get kids outside and created over 33 Earth Partnership interdisciplinary, inquiry, place and project-based activities including Habitat Detectives, Assessors and Enhancers: mapping trees, plants, collecting, organizing and analyzing data, solving problems and improving habitat, and Phenology Wheels with Ann Forbes, graphic organizers that help children observe seasonal rhythms, providing a window for climate science. These materials are available nationally through EPS professional development.

This is just one of the Earth Partnership Teams and collaborators that continue to give back each year to the community through ecological restoration on schoolyards and nearby natural areas. EPS has worked with over 35 schools and more than 175 teachers throughout Madison and Dane County. This is truly a partnership process built on relationship, respect, reciprocity and responsibility. Teachers and community-partners join Arboretum staff in co-creating opportunities for students to participate in learning that result in making a difference in their communities—for example creating natural habitat and rain gardens that help to mitigate effects of habitat loss or climate change.

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.