COVID-19 Response

On this page, you can find updates about our response and resources available for at-home learning or outdoor activities.

Thank you to everyone who has been so understanding concerning the cancellations and changes to our availability and schedule. Here you can stay updated about our response. We are following the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension guidelines and the state’s Badger Bounce Back plan. For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services or which contains more information from the University of Wisconsin about plans and response for COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and guidelines from Wisconsin Department of Health Services, UW-Madison, and federal agencies, our office will have limited availability and access.


Check out our COVID-19 Program Catalog for more information about our facility and program operations during the pandemic. Available for view or download here.


While it may not be possible for your whole class to visit for a field trip right now, we are working with educators interested in live streaming their classes from Upham! Together, we can co-explore the grounds to meet your classroom objectives. Come out to show students how to collect data in the field, identify trees, and use our unique Outdoor Laboratory to support your students. Introduce something new to your online classroom. Contact Program Director, Isabelle Herde at to schedule a visit.

Residential Groups – Upham Woods will be focusing on providing day-use and outreach programs for Wisconsinites this summer.

Day Use Programs – will be considered on a case-by-case basis

See what to expect if you join us onsite.

Open Enrollment Summer Camp – We have come to the difficult decision to not lead open enrollment summer camp in 2021.


Resources available to you

These resources are Upham’s commitment to community science during COVID-19. Upham’s other community science initiatives also include Science Strikes Back (supported by EPA NE00E02399), the Research Accelerators (supported by Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District), and Sauk County Youth Conservation Days.

Great Lakes Quests | Earth Stories Exchange | Remote Conservation

STEM For All: Water Stories | Bringing it Back to Ranger Mac


Great Lakes Quests

Virtual and interactive tours of Wisconsin coastal cities as part of the Wisconsin Coastal Guide. Free. 

In collaboration with Wisconsin Sea Grant, Upham Woods has developed a series of virtual and interactive tours of Wisconsin coastal cities that feature natural, historical, and cultural assets of the area. These tours were developed using ArcGIS StoryMap and aim to:

  • increase awareness of natural, cultural, and historical coastal issues both locally and statewide
  • increase access to the relevant and on-going coastal issues for both local and non-local participants
  • engage all of Wisconsin and help develop Wisconsin’s identity as a coastal state
  • bridge virtual and in-person experiences using a novel approach to place-based learning

The Great Lakes Quests contain interactive educational components including links to external content, inquiry-based questions, and quizzes. Each correct quiz answer reveals a clue that spells a final word that’s significant to the coastal city. Learn to quest using a video tutorial here

Why share stories about nature and science?

Uniting storytelling and science emphasize relationships between the experience, narrator, and scientific data.

These connections and self-centered discoveries lead to:

  • Deeper reflection on a scientific experience
  • Developing skills such as science communication
  • Creating a positive relationship between participant and science (Hougham et al., 2020).
  • Co-discovery for youth and adults
  • A multicultural and individualized approach inviting broader participation in science (Zocher & Hougham, 2020).


Earth Stories Exchange 

Asynchronous remote outdoor learning for all. Free.

Storytelling is an important part of an Upham Woods experience. Each participant writes a story about what they did and discovered. We have seen some truly creative and innovative reflections before. We miss the stories! The Earth Stories Exchange is simple. For more information and a submission form you can mail in check out this flyer.

  1. Get outside! You can hike, build a fort, wander, go fishing – anything really.
  2. Notice, observe, question everything around you, and write it down.
  3. Create a story based on what you did!
  4. Share your story by…
    1. emailing
    2. submitting it online here.
    3. sharing it to our Earth Stories Exchange Facebook group.
    4. snail mail it to us!

Upham Woods Naturalists

N194 County Rd N

Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

We’ll send you a story back about what’s happening in our neck of the (Upham) woods! We will send you a story back through the channel you chose to submit to us unless you indicate otherwise.

What should I do outside? How do I do science outside? Example of activity and potential data collection

Build a fort, go fishing, forage for morel mushrooms, sit in the sunshine, go on a hike, make a bird feeder, skip rocks on a pond, paddle in your canoe, hug a tree, garden, make a mud pie, pull the invasive species garlic mustard and watch this video to show you how. You can get up to tons of stuff – the world is waiting…

You can also look here for more ideas.

The Earth Stories Exchange is focusing on two parts of the scientific process: observation and question forming. Try to make sense of what’s happening around you. 

At Upham Woods, we use inquiry activities to help jumpstart our observations. Inquiry activities are games that help you decide what to focus on or where to start observing.

Going on a hike.

I wonder if I’ll see more birds closer to my house or farther away… I have a bird feeder so I think I’ll see more close to my house.

As you hike count the number of birds you see and where! Write them down so you don’t forget.


Look at some stories below:


Here are some other stories from some 6th graders!

Camping up North and seeing bear cubs

Mowing the lawn and finding a bird nest 

Sensing what’s outside


Remote Conservation

You can still take part in Upham Woods 10k Conservation Challenge. Complete a conservation service project within your community and fill out this survey. Upham Woods will count your service towards the 10k Conservation Challenge. If you need some ideas on how to get started, take a look at the video and handout below. Reach out to our Conservation Program Coordinator with any questions or help with organizing your service project.

Garlic Mustard Pull: video and handout

Nature Detective: Crown Vetch Pull video and Nature Detective: Crown Vetch Handout

Nature Detective: Bird’s Foot Trefoil video and Nature Detective: Bird’s Foot Trefoil Handout

Backyard BioBlitz: Upham Woods Backyard BioBlitz

Trash Clean-Up: video and Trash Clean-up Handout

Wacky Water Critters: Water Quality video and Wacky Water Critters Handout

Quests: Find the quests here. Watch the tutorial to see how you can complete each quest.

10k Conservation Challenge Survey

Let’s reach 10,000 hours of conservation!


STEM For All: Water Stories

Our Wisconsin Youth Water Stories Summit camp was selected by the National Science Foundation to be a featured video during their STEM For All Video Showcase. The video showcase lasted a week in May but the videos are still available. We created accompanying prompts and activities to encourage deeper thought about our project around water education. You can watch the video here:

The worksheets are available here:

Science Communication and Community – includes thought-provoking questions about how to engage communities with water issues. Appropriate for older students (7th grade +)

Make your H2Own Story – includes prompts to discuss the content of the video.

Where is Your Water From– includes questions about water resource allocation and use.


Bring it Back to Ranger Mac

Asynchronous remote learning opportunities for youth broken into three phases. Free.

While we were considering how to translate our place-based programming to a remote and digital learning format, it occurred to us that we had already done this 79 years go with Wakelin McNeel aka Ranger Mac, our first superintendent. On his radio program, “Afield with Ranger Mac”, Ranger Mac led discussions in classrooms around the state on conservation biology, observation, and student-driven discovery of the natural world. To remind ourselves of this tradition we’ve called this program Bringing it Back to Ranger Mac!

The three phases build off of each other but may be used independently. Participate in as many or as few as you need. We are available to assist with implementation and integration into the curriculum. Email Program Director Isabelle Herde at to learn more or request virtual programming.

*At this time, we only have staff and capacity to support our contracted groups in BBRM.

student questions and observations accompanied with thermal and microscopic images and pictures of the naturalists

Lomira Middle School 6th graders tuned in late May to learn about Midge our box turtle and Leche our Honduran Milk Snake as part of their Bringing it Back to Ranger Mac series.

These projects were developed following the North American Association of Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence. The initiatives of this project build upon the objectives of EPA local grant 00E02399.







How to Make your own Nature Journal

Nature journaling is another great way to tell stories about our observations outside. When you observe your natural surrounding closely and record your observations through lists, stories, or sketches, you are doing science! We look at nature journaling as a bridge between science and art and it’s for all ages! Check our these instructions to make your own!  Anything recorded in a nature journal is also an Earth Story! See the Earth Stories Exchange above to learn how to submit your journal entry as an Earth Story.

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