One Hundred Eighty Degrees at the Urban Ecology Center

Written by Erick Anderson
    Tuesday, 18 December 2012
One Hundred Eighty Degrees at the Urban Ecology Center

"Uh uh. We ain’t going. We wanna go to gym!” What a way to start a class. We thought they’d be happy to see us. After all we were about to take them away from school to play and learn in the snow (and even slip in a little sledding). Who wouldn’t want to do that? This class, apparently. In fact, when we showed up at their room and asked if they were going on a field trip, they tried to convince us we were in the wrong room! Things did not start well, but we were confident that we could corral these seventh grade stallions.

This "From the Archive" post was orginally published in the January/February 2011 edition of our newsletter. Please enjoy this glance back at our past.

“We want to have fun with you, but we need your respect and your listening ears,” we responded. “If you show us respect, good things will happen. We can promise you that.” Despite their obstinacy, we marched down to the buses.

After leaving a couple of students behind due to continued bad behavior, we managed to make our way to the Urban Ecology Center. That’s when we revealed our “secret plan” to win them over… sledding! After numerous trips down the hill, some serious “180°” air flips off the mogul and even a few races, their point of view on the field trip changed.

With smiles plastered all over their faces, we made our way inside and worked with them to understand why winter happens. We explored the cause of the seasons and the animal adaptations that respond to winter. They didn’t need any convincing to go back outside for the next part of the class. We were hot on the trail of any animal evidence we could find. Logs were flipped, bark was ripped and tracks were examined. Their minds buzzing with their detective work, we eventually had to make our way to the bus. But now the Center was the place they didn’t want to leave!

Now fast forward to spring time — warm weather, flowers, buds on the trees, temperatures in the 50s — and our return to pick up the same group. It was the type of day we all dream of in the cold of mid-January, yet they asked if we were going sledding again! It was almost heartwarming enough to consider investing in a snow machine. Somewhere during those 180° spin flips on the sleds, these kids’ hearts turned around too. Going outside can be scary, we understand. We are very proud to teach kids how to have fun and learn outside in any condition and appreciate the unique opportunities of all seasons and all weather.

co-written by Erick Anderson, Community Program Coordinator and Dan Graves, Environmental Educator

Erick Anderson

Erick Anderson

Plan A for Erick’s life was to become a high school science teacher. But after graduating from Waukesha’s Carroll University in 2006 with degrees in Chemistry and Secondary Education, he found himself stumbling upon a much more intriguing Plan B. Joining the national program Lutheran Volunteer Corps, he spent the next two years placed as a full-time Environmental Educator at the Riverside Park Branch and was given the opportunity to stay on for three more years. In 2011, he began Plan C as Community Program Coordinator at the Washington Park Branch, focusing particularly on the Young Scientists Club program. He looks forward to finding out what plans D through Z will have in store.

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