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kids in the arboretum.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Earth Partnerships with Schools

In 2008 The Cofrin Center for Biodiversity began a partnership with the Madison Arboretum and Fallen Timbers Nature Center to provide a resource center for teachers who wanted to establish natural areas on their school property. We assist teachers in northeastern Wisconsin in establishing restoration based projects on school sites and provide the tools for building a curriculum that incorporates restoration curricula into almost any subject area. In 2009 we led a week long institute for 18 area teachers to create natural plantings. The goal of the Earth Partnership is to create opportunities for experiences with nature on school sites. By having students transform school landscapes into natural habitats, their studies of science, math and related subjects can show them why learning is important and that they can make a difference.

In 2010 we joineda new regional EPS initiative focused on watershed education in the Lake Superior, Green Bay and Milwaukee River basins, funded by Wisconsin Sea Grant. A diverse group of educators and community partners launched the Great Lakes Earth Partnership in 2010 with 5 days in the Milwaukee basin coordinated by Urban Ecology Center (UEC). UEC is a neighborhood-based, environmental education center with “outdoor laboratories” in two urban parks, including 15 acres of wooded land and riparian habitat on the east bank of the Milwaukee River, and has helped train more than 150 Earth Partnership teachers. 5 additional days on Lake Superior were coordinated by the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center (NGLVC), a cooperative of the USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, UW-Extension, National Park Service and local groups. NGLVC has helped to train Earth Partnership teachers from six school districts. “Northern Wisconsin parents and teachers want their students connected to the lake as their place and to understand how the land and water interact,” says Spring Rosales, parent and Washburn District Ranger, Chequamegon National Forest.

Sign up for the 2012 Summer Watershed Institute (coming soon)

Our program includes week long institutes in the summer and ongoing support from CCB, Fallen Timbers and UW-Madison Arboretum staff to help schools with restoration planning and curriculum development.

Northeastern Wisconsin EPS Center (N.E.W.)

  • Contact:
    Vicki Medland, Ph.D., Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, UW-Green Bay; Natural and Applied Sciences, MedlandV@uwgb.edu
  • Annette Pelgrin, LFRWMP, Watershed Outreach Education Coordinator, UW-Green Bay, pelegria@uwgb.ed
  • Libby Dorn, Director, Fallen Timbers Environmental Center, ldorn@cesa6.k12.wi.us

Cofrin Center for Biodiversity (CCB), UW-Green Bay’s mission is to promote education, research, and community services that contribute to conservation of the western Great Lakes fauna and flora. CCB can facilitate faculty support for educators interested in watershed-based projects including expertise in GIS, water chemistry, macroinvertebrates, coastal wetlands, and phosphorus issues in the Great Lakes. CCB partners with Sea Grant, Fallen Timbers Environmental Center, UW Extension’s Estuary Initiative, the Lower Fox River Water Monitoring Program (LFRWMP), and Earth Partnership for Schools.

Fallen Timbers Environmental Center located near Seymour, WI, is owned by six area school districts in the Lower Fox River Basin: Ashwaubenon , DePere, Little Chute , Seymour, West DePere, and Wrightstown and operated by CESA 6. The educators at Fallen Timbers provide hands-on learning opportunities for students throughout the state. Nearly 20,000 students (K-16) participate annually. The mission of Fallen Timbers Environmental Center is to facilitate hands-on experiences that will enable students to realize the interdependence of people and the environment.

Lower Fox River Water Monitoring Program (LFRWMP) is a collaborative watershed education and stream monitoring program focused on identifying non-point source pollution within the Fox River watershed. Teams of high school students and teachers assess aquatic ecosystems by performing a variety of monitoring activities in selected watersheds of the Fox River Basin.

Cofrin Center for Biodiversity (CCB), and Fallen Timbers Environmental Center are current EPS partners and offered their first EPS teacher institute in summer 2009. Together with LFRWMP, they will host a Great Lakes Earth Partnership Institute for teachers in 2010-11 and will explore K-16 curricular links between EPS and LFRWMP.

Lower Fox River Water Monitoring Program (LFRWMP) is a collaborative watershed education and stream monitoring program focused on identifying non-point source pollution within the Fox River watershed. Green Bay is the largest bay of Lake Michigan and constitutes the largest freshwater estuary in the world. The Fox River is the largest tributary to Green Bay and contributes most of the pollution to Green Bay due to the highest concentration of pulp and paper mills in the world. (24 mills on 39 miles of river.) LFRWMP is designed to enhance student, teacher and community understanding and stewardship of the Lower Fox Watershed. Teams of high school students and teachers assess aquatic ecosystems by performing a variety of monitoring activities in selected watersheds of the Fox River Basin. Annual teacher training workshops and use of standardized monitoring methods and equipment allow students to collect quality-assured data. Data from the student monitoring is shared on the project Web site (www.uwgb.edu/watershed) and at the annual Student Watershed Symposium.

Each student/teacher team works within a specific sub-watershed of the Fox Basin to monitor water quality parameters (streamflow, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity, soluble reactive phosphorus, ammonia, and nitrate) in September, May, and August. They monitor amphibian populations from April to June and conduct bird surveys with bird monitoring experts from the UWGB Cofrin Center for Biodiveristy. Macroinvertebrate and stream habitat surveys are performed in August. Students gain understanding of environmental science, biology and chemistry through real-world hands-on experience. Through the project Web site, students and teachers relate their results and activities to those of other student-teacher teams in the Fox River basin and to broader university and agency projects being conducted in their watersheds.