The field of environmental education provides educators and practitioners with a unique opportunity to strengthen students’ experiences outdoors. Incorporating observational field studies, climate science, long-term ecological studies, and cutting-edge technology into environmental education curricula can enliven existing opportunities to foster a student’s outdoor leadership, conservation, and exploration of the natural world.

This site offers new and innovative techniques, lesson plans, studies, and research to help bolster any environmental education curriculum.

2019 Research Accelerator: Milwaukee Environmental STEM (E-STEM) Project Report Published

The Upham team ventured into the field and met with schools in Milwaukee to support science, technology, engineering, and math education outside using the environment for context. This meant using the diameter and height of a tree to practice trigonometry or examining animal artifacts and comparing them to argue from evidence about animal adaptations. Each classroom facilitation engaged students in a scientific practice and we worked with 488 students a collective 1928 times! Teachers raved about programming; each agreeing that they would recommend and want to participate in the program in the future. Learn more about our work in our 2019 report which can be found here.

Status and Needs of Environmental Education in Wisconsin 2019

In the first quarter of 2019, Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center administered a survey to over 700 environmental education organizations around the state. By the end of the survey period, 193 people responded allowing us to gain valuable insight into the field’s progress and direction since the survey’s first iteration in 2015. We are excited to share those results with you.

A sneak peak: we found that environmental education employs over 3,000 people in the state and generates between $40 million and $72 million in direct economic activity annually. Respondents collectively manage 165,466 acres of land. If anything, this report demonstrated to us the collective impact and power this industry has to create change.

You can find the full report linked here. We hope you use the report to support your organization in data informed decision making and to better understand the field of environmental education. If you have any questions or comments about the report, please reach out to Dr. Justin Hougham at


The Upham Woods Conservation Challenge: 10k by 2020

Conservation is the application of many different sciences such as: ecology, biology, chemistry, and geology all united to use and preserve our finite resources. Upham Woods has created a Conservation Challenge to give back to the land that is so often taken for granted. We aim to put 10,000 hours of conservation service into our lands by the year 2020. We will accomplish this goal through our many conservation program opportunities for both campers and community members. Click here to learn more about the Conservation Program and the Conservation Challenge.


Funding for 4-H DOTS Users

February 14, 2019

Upham Woods is excited to share that we have secured a grant to expand the DOTS kit lending program. Wisconsin 4-H educators are able to access the Digital Observations Technology Skills (DOTS) program at a reduced cost. Funds will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and programming must be completed by June 30th, 2019 in order to comply with the conditions of the grant. Requests will depend on the availability of our resources and staff’s ability to meet the request.

The DOTS program is an outdoor Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program that uses modern mobile technology tools to connect today’s students to the outdoors in new and innovative ways. This inquiry-based program encourages in depth observation of the natural world surrounding our learners aided by digital technology in the field. To learn more about the program visit our environmental education website:

4-H Educators that have been trained within the last two years may participate in our lending program at a heavily reduced cost. The cost to rent two kits for a week without the grant totals $160. However, the grant will cover this cost until the funds run out. To request the lending program complete our DOTS lending interest form:

4-H Educators that have not been trained within the last two years may request a DOTS facilitation led by Upham Woods staff. Programming must be conducted before June 30th. Without the grant, the cost for a facilitation is $75/hour with an additional hour for prep time and $0.58/mile. To request a DOTS facilitation contact the Research Naturalist Program Coordinator, Isabelle Herde at or (608) 254-6461.

In addition, the grant will support a DOTS training at Upham Woods to be held on March 14th. 4H-educators who attend will then be eligible to participate in the DOTS lending program. The cost of their attendance will be covered by the grant.

The DOTS program has a statewide reach and multi-year impact on furthering STEM initiatives and goals for young people. We look forward to being able to expand its reach through this grant to additional counties through 4-H educators.

If you have any questions please reach out to Research Naturalist Program Coordinator, Isabelle Herde at or (608) 254-6461.

Learn more about Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center:

An EEO/AA employer, University of Wisconsin Extension provides equal opportunities in employment and programming, including Title IX and Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements.


Science Strikes Back Creates a Space for All Scientists to Flourish in Milwaukee

February 6, 2019

Upham Woods, alongside Escuela Verde, hosted the third year of Science Strikes Back, a Milwaukee based community science fair. This fair encourages community members to critically analyze environmental issues and solve problems in their communities, producing a strong network for continued environmental education and natural resource stewardship. This year focused on water and the scientific process to answer learner driven research questions. This year’s theme of water was inspired and supported by Upham Woods’ participation in the Environmental Protection Agency Local Environmental Education grant number NE 00E02399.

Through this effort, 35 projects were entered ranging from testing how classroom temperatures affect student attention to understanding the physics of

grand prize winner of SSB

Bradley Tech High School student, Khari, won the grand prize at Science Strikes Back

sledding. 37 community members volunteered to serve as judges some representing local organizations. Community members wandered between projects contributing their own insight in discussion with the project team. Science flourished amidst the diverse group; one high school student commented that they, “loved the opportunity to get community members, scientists, and students all in one place.” One judge was struck by the utility of the science projects commenting on a project where a student designed their own glove, “I loved how your experiment was derived from a daily problem you have. You wanted a solution to your problem, a true engineers mind.”

At the end of the night the grand prize, an original piece of art designed by a Mark Winter, went to the Virtual Water Table by Khari from Bradley Tech High School. An interactive and colorful sandbox with a projector above it designed to superimpose topography and watershed demarcation. It was a hit among the

younger crowd and adult educators. Winners from each category also won entrance to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point Youth Summit in April and Upham Woods’ data summit camp in August.

As Science Strikes Back continues, Upham Woods will continue to play a role in engaging Milwaukee’s burgeoning scientists through local environmental issues in new and creative ways.

To learn more about Science Strikes Back visit To learn more about Upham Woods visit


Science Strikes Back 2019

We are proud to announce EPA funding for the Science Strikes Back community science fair and thank the EPA for its grant funding of this project. Science Strikes Back: Empowering Students and Educators to Impact Urban Watersheds (SSB) will connect educators and students in the Milwaukee metropolitan area with the training and tools necessary to engage in hands-on environmental education and water quality monitoring. By participating in SSB activities and research accelerators, students and teachers in Milwaukee will be empowered to critically analyze environmental issues, solve problems in their communities, and make important decisions about local water quality. Through the development of collaborative relationships between students, educators, and content specialists from locally-based organizations, SSB will produce a strong network in Milwaukee for continued environmental education and natural resource stewardship. Data collected from SSB will be uploaded here. To register a project or to check out more information, please visit the Science Strikes Back homepage. If you are in the Milwaukee area and want to get involved, please contact Justin Hougham at

Milwaukee STEM: La Escuela Fratney research summit at Upham Woods

Students using DOTS tools on Blackhawk Island to collect data on their surroundings

Students and teachers from La Escuela Fratney in Milwaukee visited Upham Woods from November 14th to the 16th, 2018, for a three-day research and outdoor learning program. This program was an extension of #MKESTEM, an ongoing collaboration between Upham Woods and several Milwaukee schools. Students produced their own research questions before they arrived: one group wanted to investigate how heat is transferred in buildings, one group was interested in insects, and another group planned to research how clouds move. Between hiking on Blackhawk Island, team building on Peanut Butter Mountain, and playing Predator/Prey, students collected data using DOTS kits. They analyzed their data–which included photos, temperature recordings, water measurements, and thermal images–and displayed their findings in PowerPoint presentations. On the last day of their stay, the students presented their findings to their peers during a research summit in the lodge.


World Water Day 2018

March 22nd, 2018Image result

Upham Woods participated in World Water Day with our partners across the state of Wisconsin.

World Water Day is an annual, global event initiated by the UN to raise awareness about freshwater resource issues around the world. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.

Upham Woods naturalists used the DOTS kits to collect water quality data from the Wisconsin River and one of its tributaries. Our partners used their DOTS kits at various sites across Wisconsin to collect the same data about their local water resources. We compiled all of the data from this one-day statewide data blitz on the EPA Water Quality Monitoring Project website. To see the scientific stories and photos from the day, click here. To learn more about the UN’s annual World Water Day project, visit the UN World Water Day website.

Water Quality Monitoring Workshop and Educator Training

March 12th-13th, 2018

Workshop attendees assess stream pollution by analyzing aquatic macro-invertebrates

On March 12th, 2018, Upham Woods hosted an environmental education workshop and training event featuring citizen science water quality monitoring techniques and DOTS technology. This water quality workshop brought together attendees from across Wisconsin with a shared interest in broadening access to environmental education through water quality monitoring. Participants included STEM teachers, camp facilitators, master naturalists, extension agents, and environmental specialists from a variety of organizations. The workshop featured water quality data collection, guest presentations on water issues in Wisconsin, and skills for sharing outdoor environmental education with all learners. Many educators talked about using the kits with their own organizations; workshop attendees have already submitted lending requests for DOTS + Water Quality Tools from Upham Woods. We are looking forward to collaborating with our new partners to educate and empower new water quality stewards across the state! To read more about this workshop, click here.

If you have any questions about our EPA Water Quality Monitoring Program, email Justin Hougham at or visit our EPA Water Quality Monitoring page.


WI Youth Water Stories Summit

girl going through DOTS kit on a beach

A Water Summit Participant finds her data collection tools during a canoe trip.

The EPA Water Quality Monitoring Project partners converged at Upham Woods for a STEM, citizen science and water quality research event August 2nd-4th, 2017. Youth from La Crosse School District, Ashland and Washburn County Extension, Escuela Verde (MKE), and Urban Ecology Center (MKE) came together to share their water stories and collect water quality data.

Youth explored Blackhawk Island, challenged their team building and communication skills on our Low Ropes Challenge Course, and inspired others to help make a collective positive impact on Wisconsin water quality. Click here to read a more detailed summary of the water stories summit.


EE in Wisconsin Video

“Find Environmental Education in Your Community,” a video project made possible by North American Association of Environmental Educators, Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education, Environmental Protection Agency, and University of Wisconsin-Extension. Check out the video here.

Wisconsin State-Wide Environmental Education Survey Results

See the most recent findings summary here.

Value of a Tree How-To Videos 

Please view our newest video guides on “Value of a Tree Tools: How-To” at the Upham Woods YouTube Channel. These tools include an increment borer, DBH tape. a forestry clinometer, and a homemade clinometer.

Increment Borer

DBH Tape

Forestry ClinometerHomemade Clinometer

University Place Video

Check out this video on the Wisconsin Public Television – University Place website! Justin Hougham details many  components of the (Digital Observation Technology Skills) DOTS program, including the pedagogy and considerations behind the program.



DOTS Kit How-To Videos

Please view our videos on the “DOTS Kit: How-To” YouTube Channel. The videos available explain how to use the Infrared Thermometer, the Garmin GPS, the Fluke Thermal Imager, the Kestrel 2000, and the Digital Microscope and iPad.

 Kintrexfluke thermal imagerGarmin GPS Kestrel 2000 Stock Photo            Digital microscope