||Environmental Field Education
During the summer of 1987, Joe Zaiman, five staff members and seven brave students ventured up to Madeline Island, WI, in a van and pickup truck for the first ever Environmental Field Education course offered at EHS. From what I have been told, their equipment was minimal with things such as sling psychrometers, thermometers, dissolved oxygen kits, a few other water quality chemical tests, yardsticks, nets, books etc. Lab reports were hand written and research projects were presented by students standing on a stump in front of a fire pit. Now fast forward more than 25 years. Over twelve staff and about 40 brave students venture up to St. Croix State Park, MN, accompanied by a school bus, two fifteen passenger vans, a minivan, a canoe trailer with eight canoes, a cargo van filled with research equipment and a research library of over 250 books, and a lift truck for food and student bags. Lab reports are done on laptop computers and research projects are presented in power point format in a rustic CCC camp building (but still in front of a fire). Needless to say the program has grown, but it still significantly impacts the lives of the students who attend.
For those of you unaware of this program, it was started by Joe Zaiman, an incredible teacher, mentor and friend whom we lost too soon in a car accident. He had the motivation, determination and vision to create a life changing experience for high school kids. Essentially, a group of students and teachers take two weeks out of their summer and leave the comforts of their homes to immerse themselves into studying several aspects of the environment. During these two weeks, students not only learn about all of the really cool science stuff, but also learn how to live as a community. Since participants are together for 24 hours every day, they often refer to the group as becoming a family.
Over the years, there have been three different Environmental Field Education courses offered in various locations. The courses presently offered are General and Advanced Environmental Field Education and they have been held at Madeline Island (WI), Manitowish Waters (WI), and the current location of St. Croix State Park (MN). In the past, a Remote Locations Field course was offered and the locations were Hawaii, Belize, Panama, and New Zealand.
These courses have allowed students to participate in once in a lifetime experiences. Some of these include touching a star, dancing on a glacier, swimming with turtles (fresh and salt water), playing with lava, meeting a macroinvertebrate, canoeing with endangered mussels, and sharing a sunrise. The list could go on forever. If I had to sum up in one phrase what these courses do for kids I would have to say it allows them to rediscover their inner child and find a sense of purpose and peace in this chaotic world. I know this because I have been involved with these courses for over 20 years –two of them as a student!
Edgewood High School students that are interested in taking one of these courses need to apply. The application period for the 2017 courses will occur early October.
"“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”-Aldo Leopold-
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Mekel Wiederholt Meier's Website
Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart
2219 Monroe St., Madison WI 53711
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