Teaching on the Road

Now that we are getting into winter, naturalists at Upham Woods are doing more outreach in the local community as well as other parts of the state. We love visiting different communities to talk with people about what is important to them. The following blog post is from our WisCorps Service Member Matt who has been able to travel around the state connecting with libraries and elementary schools.

Photo Credits to Rita Magno, Baldwin Public Library

“In late October, Kara and I were asked to speak about bats in the Village of Hammond, WI for National Bat Week. Librarians from Hammond and  Baldwin collaborated to put on this family-friendly event. Once our audience was in their seats, the presentation began by dispelling some common myths associated with bats and discussing interesting bat species and species native to Wisconsin. Did you know that the smallest bat in the world is the bumblebee bat which weighs only 2 grams!

We also brought along some preserved bats and skeletons so people could get an up-close look at a bat. The last thing we did was play bat-moth, a fun game we use to explain echolocation. This game was a big hit with the kids in attendance. We were lucky enough to listen to a couple of bat stories from audience members as well.

 

Photo Credits to Rachael Lewandowski-Sarette, Upham Woods

Our next outreach event took place at Springhill Elementary school library where fourth and fifth graders participated in our Voyageur and Scales, Scutes and Skins classes. As someone who studied the French language for ten years, I really enjoyed teaching the Voyageur class to the inquisitive fourth graders. In this class, we talk about colonial America in the context of the French Fur Trade of the 18th century. I got to put on a persona of a company boss and teach the students about the voyageur lifestyle through historical reenactment. In addition to learning a bit of French and the yearly routine of a voyageur, the students also get to feel animal pelts and learn some voyageur games. Fifth graders at Springhill were very excited about Scales, Scutes, and Skins. This class teaches students about amphibians and reptiles, but the best part of the class is when they get to meet our education animals. On this occasion, I was able to bring three awesome animals, a three-toed box turtle named Larry, a painted turtle named Little Momma, and our milk snake aptly named Leche. After one of our classes, a student came up to me and said that reptiles are their favorite animals but they’ve never touched one and then they thanked me for my visit. I thought that was a special moment because that’s what outreach is all about.

 

Photo Credits to Ms. Gulden, Baraboo School District

Finally, our last outreach was with the youngest students of all, four and five-year-olds in the Baraboo School District. Over 3 days, I visited 21 classrooms and had a lot of fun along the way. Our lesson was an introduction to animals involving lots of hands-on learning. Some of the items I brought with me included snake skins, a wasp’s nest, turtle shells, and last but not least our painted turtle Little Momma. Before they met Little Momma we walked around like turtles and washed our hands. This is an ongoing outreach program which will go throughout winter. I’m really looking forward to visiting these classrooms again and making more positive memories about animals. As someone who grew up in Baraboo, I cherish the opportunity to make a positive educational impact in my hometown.”

-Matt Becraft

WisCorps Service Member

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