Excitement for the upcoming school year!

Written by Lynn Anders
    Thursday, 12 September 2019
Excitement for the upcoming school year!

Autumn is knocking, summer vacations are in the rearview mirror and we are preparing for the school year ahead and our Neighborhood Environmental Education Project (NEEP) for schools. While students are thinking about homework and teachers are creating lesson plans, we are in full-gear preparing for tons of outdoor experiences, nature play and educational fun!

Excitement for new connections

NEEP is a partnership program. We partner with schools within a 2-mile radius of our branches to provide multiple field trips per year. Students have multiple trips, sometimes for multiple years, to learn in and connect to the land in the green spaces we use as “outdoor classrooms.” In addition, our Educators work closely with teachers to ensure that our programming fits seamlessly into their curriculum.

Studies have shown that a child needs two things to inspire environmental awareness: constant contact with nature early in life and an adult mentor (parent, teacher, friend) who demonstrates positive behavior toward the environment. Our Environmental Educators are excited to get to know their students and teach them throughout the school year.

Excitement for new experiences

Whether they are building forts or identifying fossils, students in our programs are always exploring the nature around us in every season!

A few anticipated highlights include:

  • Native aquatic animal lessons that include river exploration
  • Butterfly life cycle lessons that include monarch tagging, and
  • Physical education that includes sledding.

 “A-ha!” in real time

We have the wonderful opportunity to see nature “a-ha!” moments in real-time. That moment often arises as students explore outside and suddenly there’s excitement, teamwork and curiosity bubbling through the class as they find connections to the world and the program content. It’s the wonder on a student’s face when they discover an animal under a log. Their joy as they hold a caterpillar. And their surprise at finding a bird in the forest in the middle of January.

While many students expect to be outside in fall and spring, it’s easy to forget winter is a great time for outdoor exploration too. We look forward to the cold-weather adventures and more of those “a-ha!” moments even when teeth might be chattering and heavy jackets, hats, mittens and boots are in fashion.

Check out the video below to see NEEP in action.

Thanks to you, we’re ready

Thanks to your support of the Urban Ecology Center, our professional NEEP educators are prepared to facilitate learning, exploration and connection to the outdoors. Your help allows us to have over 30,000 student visits per year! THANK YOU!

If you’d like to contribute to our efforts to bring every student into nature, please click here and become a member.

Lynn Anders

Lynn Anders

Lynn is the Environmental Education Manager at the Urban Ecology Center. She grew up in Wisconsin and received her degree in Biology and Education from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Lynn enjoys hiking, cooking, family adventures and rugby. She loves how the eyes of children shine when they explore the outdoors and learn new things-especially when they least expect it.


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