Learning from the Land – Leopold Elementary Lends a Hand at ALNC

Hands-on learning is incorporated into all of our programming at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center; up-close observation and interaction with the native habitats on both of our campuses is one of the best ways to ‘teach the student to see the land, to understand what he sees, and enjoy what he understands’ in the spirit of Aldo Leopold. Service learning based programs are a wonderful way to incorporate this hands-on education experience with the concepts of land stewardship and our role in ensuring the health of Wisconsin’s wilderness.

PrintIn keeping with our mission, ALNC is now an official site for Roots & Shoots, a program of Dr. Jane Goodall, encouraging local students to engage in action projects to benefit their community. From the Roots & Shoots Website:

Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people.

As an official Roots & Shoots site, ALNC facilitates service learning projects with regional K-12 classes at both our Monona and Black Earth campuses. Projects range from community mapping, invasive species removal, and aquatic restoration. Schools and community organizations can also request a traveling naturalist to help them plan a Roots &Shoots service project on site, such as prairie restoration or garden construction.

Most recently, 1st through 5th grade students from Leopold Elementary School in Madison joined our naturalists to lend a hand on service projects promoting Leopold’s “Land Ethic,” carrying on the legacy of their school’s namesake. Working with our naturalists Nathan and Shaina, Leopold Elementary students helped pick up litter and trash on the grounds of the nature center, ensuring a healthy habitat for our native animal residents and visiting students alike.  

Leopold Elementary at ALNC

Leopold Elementary at ALNC
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Leopold Elementary students also helped create new habitats for turtles and other aquatic animals by selectively placing logs into the pond, an essential habitat element for our painted turtles and other pond residents. These logs provide cover for fish and insects and serve as basking platforms for the painted turtles. Next time you visit ALNC, be on the lookout for turtles sunning on these new platforms!

Projects like these are both a hands-on learning opportunity for students and a way for them to help us spread Leopold’s conservation legacy. We are so grateful for the generous efforts of these and other students! These programs have been a great success, often working well when paired with one of our field trip programs like Habitats for elementary students or Leopold’s Land and Legacy for middle & highschoolers.

Remember, if you book 2 programs at ALNC back-to-back, the 2nd program is half-price! If you are interested in scheduling a Roots & Shoots program for your class, please give Creal or Virginia a call at (608) 221-0404. We look forward to welcoming your group to ALNC soon!

ALNC Receives Kiwanis Community Service Award

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This Monday night, the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Madison held a Celebration of Service Dinner featured special honors for the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, which received a $2,500 Robert and Carroll Heideman Community Service Grant.   This Heideman Community Service Grant in support of our Campfire Fund program, which provides summer camp scholarship for homeless and economically disadvantaged children in the Madison area, ensures that the chance to engage in nature programs and healthy outdoor activities is available for those children who need it most.  Our Campfire Fund has allowed underprivileged children to participate in ALNC’s summer camp programs now for 2 summers in a row, and we are so thankful for the support to continue this work.

ALNC received a letter from a 9-year old Campfire Fund applicant this spring explaining why he wanted to attend camp; he said, “I have never gone to camp before but I think it would be fun to explore nature, meet new friends, and have fun playing games. I think it is amazing how a tree can grow from just a seed, dirt, sunshine, and water. I would like to learn more about that.”  That young man was able to attend camp at the Nature Center this summer – he explored, met new friends, had fun playing games, and got to experience the incredible and inspiring natural world in a safe and supportive environment.  Because of the support from the Kiwanis Club and our community, we can continue to provide these experiences.