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EYC. Environmental Youth Connections. Connie Abert, Waupaca County UWEX & Gretchen Marshall, UWSP JCEP Conference April, 2011

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Environmental Youth Connections

Connie Abert, Waupaca County UWEX & Gretchen Marshall, UWSP

JCEP Conference April, 2011

University of Wisconsin, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wisconsin counties cooperating. UW-Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming including Title IX and ADA.


Purpose of EYC

To provide a direct connection between

environmental and outdoor learning &

local parks, trails and natural areas.

needs addressed through eyc
Needs addressed through EYC
  • UW-SP graduate study:
    • 88% of teachers indicted a need for more in-service/training and curriculum;
    • 63% of teachers indicated a desire to increase outdoor use;
    • 77% of teachers would like to greater utilize community and school properties;
    • 79% of teachers need environmental education equipment.
  • The UWEX survey results:
    • 60% did not know areas close to the school were permissible to use;
    • 66% would be interested workshop that connected learning and natural areas.
    • 80% were willing to use local forest for outdoor education;
goals to address eyc needs
Goals to address EYC Needs
  • In Fall 2007 UWEX invited public stakeholders countywide to develop goals that addressed identified needs:
    • to serve more youth and citizens in natural resource areas;
    • to have access to more places, resources and volunteesr;
    • to have training opportunities for staff and volunteers to develop age appropriate lesson plans for local natural areas;
    • to find support for these efforts through education, outreach, and grants.

National Research &

Wise Old Principal

  • Play is essential to child development
    • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Nature Deficit Disorder
    • Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv
  • Better stress coping skills when in homes connected to nature
    • 2003 Cornell University Study
  • City life can lead to less emotional control, ↑ level of aggression
    • How the City Hurts Your Brain, Jonah Lehrer
  • Psychological benefits linked to diversity of its plant life
    • University of Queensland, Richard Fuller
  • Childhood Obesity – access to places increases activity
    • American Association of Recreation Professionals
educators response
Educators Response
  • Grant
    • for professional development connected to local natural areas
  • Workshops and lesson plans
    • Leaf (uwsp), Project Wet – Wild - Learning Tree, KEEP
  • Site Visits and Visioning
    • Each school / community
  • School Forest Designations & WEEB Workshop
    • WEEB grants

Enriching Students. Sustaining Forests.

The Wisconsin K-12 Forestry Education Program





  • Is Wisconsin focused
  • Is long-term and comprehensive
  • Incorporates current educational needs
  • Connects to schools, organizations, and agencies
leaf services
LEAF Services
  • Consultation
  • Curriculum Resources
  • Professional Development
  • School Forest & Outdoor Classroom Support
leaf opportunities
LEAF Opportunities

Workshops & Courses

School In-services

Forestry Field Days

On-line Networking

wi school forest program
WI School Forest Program
  • Registered under WI Community Forest Law; established in 1928
  • 380 school forest parcels owned by:
    • 209 different Public School Districts (363 parcels)
    • 9 Private Schools
    • 8 Higher Education Institutions
  • Parcels range from 2 to 748 acres

Public School Districts with School Forests

benefits for registered school forests
Benefits for Registered School Forests:
  • Eligible for grants
  • Free DNR forest management assistance
  • Free trees
  • WI School Forest Education Specialist assistance
  • Resources on School Forest Website

WI School Forest Support

WI School Forest Specialist provides information, assistance, and resources for districts developing and growing their school forest programs.



outdoor classrooms
Outdoor classrooms…

…allow students and teachers to:

  • Gain an appreciation and awareness of natural resources
  • Learn core subjects
  • Build self-esteem, skills, and knowledge
  • Develop life-long critical thinking skills
  • Encounter real-life situations, outside
  • Be engaged by lessons
wi center for environmental education
WI Center for Environmental Education

Other resources:

  • KEEP (WI K-12 Energy Education Program)
  • Resources Library
  • Education for Sustainability
  • WEEB (Wisconsin Environmental Education Board)
where are we now
Where Are We Now
  • Submitted WEEB grants for 5 of 7 school districts
  • Designated over 20 properties as school forest
  • Curriculum connect to School Forest
  • Sustainable Plans for Forest
what do we expect
What do we expect?
  • Academic Success
  • Better Stewards
  • Health Improvements
  • Sustainable Forest

The Wisconsin K-12 Forestry Education Program


Waupaca County UW-Extension

Environmental Youth Connections