Big Hill Adventures for 1st and 2nd graders

Spring 2015_0001
A student from Eagle Point Elementary School studies pond samples.

This spring first and second grade students throughout the district participated in educational activities at the District’s environmental outdoor classroom, Big Hill.

According to Sue Brockel, Big Hill Resource Teacher for the district, students participated in environmental education adventures studying three habitats:  the woods, the pond, and the prairie.  Students climbed the Big Hill to observe the plants and animals in the forest habitat.  Using their binoculars, they observed many birds on the prairie. During the pond study, they found many water critters.  Using two-way scopes, the students saw tadpoles, minnows, leeches, dragonfly nymphs, a water scorpion, and several small water beetles.

The activities are facilitated by Brockel and the two other Big Hill resource teachers, Sandy and Steve Kahl. “Students learned many facts about, and developed an appreciation for, their environment,” said Brockel.

Morrisonville Elementary and high school students team up to plant prairie at Big Hill

spreading prairie seed
A MES student spreads prairie seed.

Students at Morrisonville Elementary School spent time at the Big Hill this spring spreading prairie seed on a recently cleared hillside. According to teacher Julie Harrier, the activity concluded a year-long project with the Audubon Society.  Last year students at Morrisonville Elementary School received $579 for the purchase of binoculars and nature notebooks so that students could study wetland and prairie habitats at Goose Pond Sanctuary.  Harrier, who wrote the grant on behalf of the school, said the grant also covered the cost of prairie seed collection at Goose Pond for the Big Hill Environmental Learning Center, where students would reseed, restore and preserve the original prairie habitat.

With the help of a representative from the Madison Audubon Society, some high school agri-science students, and high school agri-science teacher Dan Kvalheim, Morrisonville students finished their project at Big Hill by spreading the seed they collected earlier this fall at Goose Pond.

Kvalheim talked to students about prairie plants, the controlled burn that took place a few weeks ago, and the proper way to scatter the prairie seed.   He had the first and second grade students make a long line across the hill and pair up with high school students. Then, with buckets of seed, they carefully made their way down the hillside scattering seeds.

Seed sowing w high school agri-business students
MES students spreading seed.

The Big Hill Environmental Learning Center is an area rich in diverse plant and animal communities and habitat: wetland, prairie, oak savanna, and woodland, owned jointly by the DeForest Area School District and the Town of Windsor.  Since 2004 it has been a Wisconsin School Forest.

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