Excitement for ‘Gardenpalooza’!

During the dark depths of winter, the NKE Arboretum Committee has stayed busy thinking spring and making exciting plans for our school. This year, for the first time, NKE will celebrate our gardens and outdoor education efforts with a “Gardenpalooza” week in which all NKE students will participate. This Gardenpalooza week will be a perfect finale to an entire month of wellness at NKE (the three weeks before will celebrate mindfulness, giving back, and being active).

Our Gardenpalooza week, May 15–19, will kick off with all students meeting with their Character Families on Monday and learning about sustainability. They will watch a video from our administrative intern, Ms. Knutson, challenging each class to work together to complete a bingo card that contains different fun ideas for learning outside; classes that get bingo will be able to eat a picnic lunch outside that Friday. Also, during the week, each class will go outside to plant in our gardens, amend our garden soil, plant a rain garden, and more. We will need volunteers to help us get the kids outside that week—if you are interested, please contact Kim Sorbet by email at kimmwahlgren@yahoo.com.

To cap off our Gardenpalooza week, we plan to have a celebration open house on that Friday, May 19, during which our school families will be able to tour our new hoop house (!), visit the Arboretum, eat a picnic dinner and visit stations for nature art, local nature experts and more. We hope to see you there!

NKE Progressing to Be ‘Green & Healthy’

For years now, staff and parents at different Oregon School District schools have pursued sustainability and outdoor education initiatives independently of each other. Although much exciting progress was being made, oftentimes people outside that school had no idea it was happening. Starting with this school year, the entire OSD is making a coordinated effort to be more sustainable, all under the umbrella of Wisconsin’s Green & Healthy Schools program.

As explained on the G&HS website, the program:

… supports and encourages schools to create safe learning environments and prepare students to understand, analyze and address the major environmental and sustainability challenges now and in the future through providing resources, recognition and certification. Administered through a partnership between the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, this program provides information, resources and announcements for all school staff, community members and others interested in green and healthy initiatives and activities for Wisconsin schools.

The program recognizes achievement in nine focus areas:

  • community involvement
  • energy
  • environmental and sustainability education
  • environmental health (indoor air quality, chemical management, integrated pest management)
  • health and wellness
  • recycling and waste management
  • school site
  • transportation
  • water

Through achievement in these areas, schools make progress toward three main goals:

1. Reduce environmental impact and costs
2. Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff
3. Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.

ghslogoThere are four certification levels: Sprout, Seedling, Sapling and Sugar Maple. Currently NKE is a Sprout—just beginning the process. Fourth-grade teacher Emily Anderson will be leading NKE’s efforts on the G&HS program, including the formation of a student group who will be integral in NKE’s progress.

If you’d like to be involved in this or our other outdoor education initiatives at NKE, please let Mr. Kluck know!

And, just a continual reminder: Please save your Bill’s Food Center receipts and turn them in at NKE. Bill’s support (donating 1% of all receipts we turn in) is integral to our success with the NKE Arboretum and other outdoor education projects at our school.

Our Big Compost Project

1-16-PullingLeavesWe are extraordinarily proud that in late fall 2015, we were able to restart our cafeteria composting program at NKE. As of mid-December, after only about two months, we had already composted 300 gallons of food scraps from the cafeteria. That is a huge quantity of waste being kept out of the landfill!

Basically at lunch we are collecting fruit, vegetables (the “green” items) and brown napkins. The leaves, pine needles and twigs from the arboretum serve as our “brown” materials and we throw that on top to cover the lunch scraps. The 4th grade service committee members have been taking out the food scraps to the compost bins that were built with NKE Arboretum fund-raising money next to the garage. Some 3rd graders helped rake the Arboretum and haul more leaves to the compost bins to refresh our “brown” supply.

Going forward we are still working to find more adults to take the compost out with the students. (There are many kids who can’t wait to take it out!) We can’t wait to show the kids the gorgeous “dirt” created from their lunchroom scraps.

If you’re interested in learning more about composting, you can check out this useful UW Extension resource.


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