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.
In 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 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!