Teachers bring their students to National Wildlife Refuge

2nd August 2017

By Skylar Primm, teacher at High Marq Environmental Charter School, Wisconsin USA

It’s a cool day in the middle of May, and 32 middle and high school students from rural Montello, Wisconsin are en route to Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The sky looks somewhat threatening, but a little rain doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm for bird watching and exploration of the glacial landscape at this valuable ecological site, which hosts over 300 species of birds. Though Horicon Marsh is only 60 miles from High Marq Environmental Charter School, most of the students (and teachers!) have never had the opportunity to visit.

We chose to bring our students to Horicon to expose them to the rich diversity of this place and to attempt to counter the rising concern over environmental protections in our community, state, and country. Places like this beautiful marsh are a reminder that we can and have protected important ecosystems for the benefit of all. The day begins with a boat tour covering the history of the area and how it came to be a National Wildlife Refuge. Later, students take a guided birdwatching hike behind the visitor’s center, spotting dozens of birds. On the bus ride home, some students are energetically discussing their experiences of the day while others are quietly pondering today’s driving question: Why are birds important to our ecosystems? Several state their intention to bring their parents to Horicon Marsh this summer. Despite the tiredness we all feel, the students’ excitement is contagious.

frog

At High Marq Environmental Charter School, our students spend every Thursday of the school year outside, exploring new places and working together on environmental projects. They gain firsthand experience with the ideas that learning doesn’t stop at the classroom doors, and that there’s nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty in the pursuit of knowledge.

You can and should take your students outside, and it doesn’t have to involve an hourlong bus drive or elaborate weekly trips. Simply take a walk around the school building, and you’re certain to find something interesting for your students. Sit in the grass and read books. Practice math with acorns. Listen to the sounds around you. Just slow down for a few minutes and breathe. It’s always scary to try something new, but Outdoor Classroom Day has your back, and so do thousands of fellow educators. You’ll find plenty of inspiration and resources online. Go for it this September or October, or next May, or all three! Your students deserve it, and so do you.

If you would like to participate in Outdoor Classroom Day, register your class or whole school, and share your day’s activities on social media using the #OutdoorClassroomDay hashtag.

 

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Wohoo! Top marks for signing up!!!

Thanks for joining the movement, we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

We’ll send you a newsletter shortly. Time to play is critical for every child – share your moments with us by tagging #OutdoorClassroomDay and make every day a day to learn and play outdoors!

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