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Greenhouse for the Mind: A Partnership Between Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and Adams-Friendship School District
Midwest Region, July 16, 2013
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Visitor Services Specialist Kara Zwickey demonstrates how to capture aquatic invertebrates as an Adams-Friendship Summer School student watches.
Visitor Services Specialist Kara Zwickey demonstrates how to capture aquatic invertebrates as an Adams-Friendship Summer School student watches. - Photo Credit: Carol Bezin
An Adams-Friendship Summer School student investigates the invertebrates caught at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge with Visitor Services Specialist Kara Zwickey.
An Adams-Friendship Summer School student investigates the invertebrates caught at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge with Visitor Services Specialist Kara Zwickey. - Photo Credit: Carol Bezin

“Wow! What’s that?” One student from an Adams-Friendship summer school class exclaimed. “Quick, look over here!” another one shouted as students gathered in a small circle to look closer at the critter. These were common sights and sounds at the boardwalk near Rynearson Pool 2 on June 28, as students explored the macroinvertebrates living at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge.

Educators and summer school students from Adams-Friendship Summer School flocked to Necedah Refuge in June and July to partake in summer programming opportunities with refuge staff. Adams County was awarded a federal “Promise Neighborhood Grant” by the U.S. Department of Education to improve the education and health of community members from “cradle to college.” Necedah National Wildlife Refuge has partnered with education professionals at the Adams-Friendship School District to help develop and promote one of the six pilot projects, Greenhouse for the Mind. Greenhouse for the Mind is designed to promote Aldo Leopold’s land ethic through ecological education that embraces the culture, history, art, literature, and natural resources of Adams County.

As part of this partnership, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Services Specialist, Kara Zwickey, developed a week-long nature camp class called Fun with Wildlife which was held during two sessions of summer school at Adams-Friendship School District. Refuge staff spent the first three days of each summer school session working with students in the classroom, preparing them for their adventures at Necedah Refuge. From searching for animal tracks and mimicking animal movement in the school forest, to investigating mouthparts of dragonflies and butterflies at the school pond and exploring prairie seeds and roots, students were always engaged in the natural world.

“The goal of this course is to integrate art and nature,” said Carol Bezin, supervisory instructor for Fun with Wildlife summer school class. Each day, students sketched and recorded their observations from the field into a nature journal. Upon completion of the class, students had a mini-field guide of animals and plants found in their own backyards.

On the last day of class, students traveled to the refuge for a half day of hands-on educational activities ranging from bird identification basics, to dipping for macro invertebrates, to exploration of predator-prey dynamics at the refuge. “Students were genuinely full of awe and wonder as they dipped their nets into the water,” said Zwickey. From water boatman, to backstriders, to dragonfly larva, and water scorpions, the students were enthralled with the diversity of insects found!

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge will continue to work with the district school after school program in the fall of 2013, as goals toward Greenhouse for the Mind are met.

The summer school partnership between Necedah Refuge and Adams-Friendship School District has served 95 first through third grade students during the summer of 2013. Transportation funding was made possible by the Adams County Promise Neighborhood Grant.

Learn more about Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, by visiting us online


Contact Info: Kara Zwickey, 608-565-4412, kara_zwickey@fws.gov



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