Environmental Education Programs

Youth using thermal imager

Youth exploring thermal imagery technology from the DOTS kits

The University of Wisconsin-Extension offers a variety of environmental education opportunities throughout the year. Examples include technology kit trainings for educators, hands-on programs for youth, professional presentations and community outreach events. The goals of these types of programs is to provide educators with current teaching tools to increase environmental education in schools and similar 4-H programming.


Current Programs:


Digital Observation Technology Skills (DOTS)DOTS Logo

The use of unique Digital Observation Technology Skills (DOTS) kits provide students with a hands-on approach to the scientific method and natural inquiry through a variety of technology tools. Using digital microscopes, remote sensors, cameras, thermal imagers and trail cameras, this program explores hidden environments, such as habitats, nocturnal wildlife movements, microscopic soil features, and thermodynamics of living organisms. Comparison of micro-climates, basic understanding of scientific rigor and benefits of technology become easily accessible topics through the course of this program.  For more information check out the DOTS page, the DOTS kits flyer or contact Justin Hougham at to learn more about how your group can be involved in this exciting program!

Value of a Tree (VOAT)Value of a Tree Logo

The Value of a Tree (VOAT) lesson is an environmental education lesson geared at introducing students to the concept of renewable fuel sources from biomass. Using modern forestry tools to aid their scientific observations, students learn about where woody biomass originates, and how it can be used to create jet fuel. Students will then be able to debate the merits of harvesting a tree for timber and fuel versus leaving it standing to sequester carbon and provide habitat. The lesson takes advantage of an outdoor classroom and hands-on learning to encourage creativity, critical thinking, tool familiarity, and data analysis.  VOAT lessons and resources are a perfect addition to almost any environmental education curriculum. For more information check out the VOAT page or contact Justin Hougham at to learn more about how your group can be involved in this compelling lesson!

Digging Deeper with Data (DDD)

Digging Deeper with Data (DDD) is a semester long project that allows students to collect data on wind speed, air temperature, and surface temperatures of different objects in order to answer essential questions about our natural world. Addressing STEM initiatives and using common core standards in math, language arts, science, and reading, students can participate in eight different lessons focused in climatology, microbiology, data analysis, and thermal inquiry. Students can present their findings to their peers bi-weekly showcasing their academic achievement, data processing and inquiry development skills. For more information check out the DDD page or contact Justin Hougham at to learn more about how your class can be involved in this longitudinal study!


Professional Development Opportunities:

Upcoming workshops

Water Quality Monitoring Workshop and Educator Training

This workshop is open to any educators or program facilitators interested in instructional methods for DOTS and citizen science water quality monitoring.

Where: At Upham Woods

When: March 12th-13th, 2018

The workshop will include:

  • Full DOTS training to become eligible to participate in the DOTS lending program
  • Citizen science data collection methods for water quality analysis
  • Experiential, place-based, and inquiry-based instruction methods
  • Potential to participate in future grant-funded projects

For more information about this event, visit our event information page.

For more information about the EPA Water Quality Monitoring Project, email Justin Hougham at or visit our EPA Water Quality Monitoring website.


For more information including how to register, course fee information and more upcoming workshops, check out the Adult Education page here or contact Upham Woods Staff here.


Past Opportunities and Programs

Wisconsin Master Naturalist Volunteer Training Course

Upham Woods partnered with Wisconsin Mater Naturalist to provide education, training, and service opportunities for adult volunteers.

Where: At Upham Woods and field trips to nearby conservation organizations

When:  9 am – 4 pm on various days, end of March – early April 2017

Peanut Butter Mountain Team Building Challenge Course Facilitator Training

This training covered the goals and standards of challenge courses, policies and safety procedures for Peanut Butter Mountain. Participants also learned group initiative games and participated in Peanut Butter Mountain elements.

When: 9 am – 4 pm, April 17th 2017

DOTS exploration:The Islands of Trinidad and Tobago

In Summer 2016, members of UWEX Faculty and Staff joined educators from Omaha, NE on their journey to understanding the Caribbean island country of Trinidad and Tobago. Using DOTS pedagogies and digital tools, the data they collected helped inform their inquiries regarding the flora, fauna, climate, geologic past, and cultural presence as they explored coral reefs, rainforests, and everything in between. Catch up on the summer’s data collection and questions that have arose from their experiences here.

For more information on current and past opportunities, contact Justin Hougham at, or check out the google sites for each program here.