Grant to benefit school forest education plan

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The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District has received a $9,875.00 grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) to implement its District school forest education plan.

The District school forest team consists of Park staff members Brenda Autz, Sharon Wirtz, Cassie Roberts, Jodi Klare, and Amy Callies.

They developed lesson plans K-4 in math, reading, writing, science, and social studies that align with District and Common Core State Standards. Callies said the question the team kept asking to drive the educational plan was: What types of hands-on, engaging, relevant, place-based activities can we develop to launch students and teachers outside to use our school forest as a resource for learning?

She said the team worked the process backwards and also asked what would we need or want to take the students into the forest to learn?

"We took an inventory of the tools and resources we already had to teach in the woods and then created  a 'wish' list of resources we still needed to launch learning outside,'' she said.

The team wrote the school forest lessons to include those resources, which included binoculars, non-fiction books at every reading level on school forest topics, birding field guides, native plant guides, Wisconsin mammal field guides, magnifying glasses, shovels, work gloves, lopping shears, bird calling audio books, clipboards and more.

The funding from the WEEB will pay to implement the education plan, she said. In addition, funding has been provided to offer tours of the District school forest to the public and hold additional workshops and tours for district staff members.

"It is the school forest team's hope that this generous grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board will highlight the amazing school forest learning resource we have right behind Park Elementary School and launch students and teachers into the outdoors to learn,'' Callies said.