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Sixth-graders at Southeast Valley Middle School will ditch their Chromebooks for sunscreen, dirt and bug spray as they move their classrooms outdoors for a week earlier this month as part of the School of the Wild learning experience.

School of the Wild is a program facilitated by the University of Iowa Recreation Services and is Iowa’s first accredited environmental school.

The outdoor school will be led by Karen Hansen, Environmental Education Coordinator for Webster County Conservation, and is directly linked to the Southeast Valley science curriculum and will also allow students to explore the concepts taught in a setting real.

“It’s not a trip” said Greg Slininger, principal of Southeast Valley Middle School. “It’s school. It is a multidisciplinary program with social studies, mathematics, science, art and English too. It’s a great way to get kids outside to experience the world around them.

Students will learn about Iowa’s habitats including forests, wetlands, and grasslands, team building, outdoor survival skills, outdoor recreation, and stewardship while touring the areas Webster County natural sites such as Camp WaNoKi, Smeltzer Learning Farm, Dolliver Memorial State Park and Brushy Creek State. Recreation area.

“Children need to be outside” said Hansen. “Spending time outdoors should be a pleasant experience. Superficially, School of the Wild might seem like a lot of fun, and we hope it does. By allowing plenty of time to explore, children develop a genuine curiosity for nature. This will lead to questions and eventually understanding the interdependence we have with everything around us. Today more than ever, this awareness is essential.

The Nature School was started over 20 years ago by David Conrads who wanted to bring the experience of Iowa wildlife camps into the school classroom. Students are invited to participate in school-week excursions focusing on ecology, natural history, personal growth and team building. The week-long program is accredited by the University of Iowa and with the support of grants and sponsorships, it is available to school districts at little or no cost to the school.

“School of the Wild will likely be different from school to school,” said Hansen. “It is teacher-led with support from the University of Iowa and many other agencies and volunteers.”

Southeast Valley students will be the first in Webster County to participate in the unique learning experience May 9-13. St. Edmond students will follow later in the month.

“The goal is to reach every sixth grader in Webster County through School of the Wild,” Hansen said. “We already think it’s worth it. The next step is to make School of the Wild sustainable – sustainable like our natural world.



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