School to Nature Program
"Thanks for giving us those binoculars. We were lucky to have you as our leader. I hope you had a great time too."
"Thank you for taking your time to teach us about nature!"
"I had such a great time with you and the group on the field trip! It was nice how you were fun and laid back, plus you let us chew gum! I had lots of fun!"
"Dear Dave, Thank you for showing me the value of nature. I had a lot of fun and I might even go back. I also saw a toad for the first time and saw insects that I have never seen before."
The Caledonia Conservancy started the School To Nature program in 2010 to expose students to the natural world offered on the Conservancy’s preserved land. It is a known fact that children do not get out into nature enough nor do they recognize the importance of how the natural outdoor classroom impacts their lives. The School To Nature program uses curriculum from the Wisconsin DNR “Project Learning Tree” and consists of two (spring and fall) field trips highlighting two of the Conservancy’s larger parcels of land. Another goal of the School To Nature program is to let our community know that the Caledonia Conservancy land is open to anyone who wants to come out and enjoy nature, hoping that the visiting students will let their families know about our preserved lands and where they are located.
In our spring program, 6 th grade students from area schools are bussed to Tabor Woods, 5131 Tabor Road (located off of Hwy. 31, between 5 and 6 Mile Rds). The 2 1⁄2 hour nature class consists of looking at the impact a fallen log has on the land, including a worksheet entitled “Life in a Fallen Log” and a nature walk studying some of the trees and wildflowers found in Tabor Woods. While there students are also given an opportunity to see our mobile nature display of several mounted birds, animal skeletons, hides and feathers from animals native to the surrounding areas. In the spring of 2015, we will have students from McKinley Middle School, Gilmore Middle School, St. Rita’s Catholic School, Racine Christian School and a group of home schooled children come out to Tabor Woods to participate in our program. Over a 7 day period of time, we will have up to 350 students (50 students per day) visit our
land along with teachers and chaperones.
The School To Nature fall program invites 4 th graders from area schools to come to the Trout Ponds/Prairie, 4819 4 Mile Road (located on the SW corner of Hwy. 31 and 4 Mile Rd.). While there the students complete an activity sheet dealing with the habitats of the animals and plants that they will see as they move through the ponds, prairie, woods and river habitats. Visiting students also get to see our mobile nature display. Each of our volunteer leaders take a group of 5 students through the Trout Ponds/Prairie, stopping to study the plants and animals native to each habitat. We have up to 50 students and 10 adult volunteer leaders participate each of the 6 days this program is offered. Fourth grade students from Gifford Elementary, Prairie School and North Park Elementary came out to the Trout Ponds/Prairie in the 2014 fall program.
The School To Nature program has had over 3,250 students come out for our nature program since it began in 2010. There is no charge for the schools to participate in this program and even a portion of the bussing costs to bring the students out on the land are paid for through grants and donations. The many adult volunteers who participate, donate their time and resources to this wonderful program so area students can learn about the nature found in the “green spaces” that the Caledonia Conservancy maintains in the Village of Caledonia.
We are always looking for more adult volunteers that would be willing to help educate area students about nature. Our spring program at Tabor Woods is held in May and our fall program at the Trout Ponds/Prairie is usually done the end of September or beginning of
October. Both programs are held during the daytime and are about 2 1⁄2 hours long. Specific dates and times are dependent on when the schools are able to come and varies from year to year. We ask that volunteers participate in a 2 hour training and commit to leading at least 2 days of field trips. A volunteer must also be able to hike for at least 2 hours, enjoy nature and children. We try to make this a fun learning experience for both students and volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering for our School To Nature program please contact Jill Baranowski.