|Tuesday, Jul 31, 2012|
A group of twenty-five teachers from all over Wisconsin came together in Ashland, Wisconsin, in mid-July to learn how the state’s climate is changing and how that will impact the way we live.
The National Park Service, the University of Wisconsin – Extension, the Friends of the Center Alliance, Ltd., and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission worked together to develop a four-day “Changing Climate…Changing Cultures” teacher workshop that took place from July 16th to July 19th.
The workshop was held at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, the commission’s offices in the Bad River Indian Reservation, and at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It also featured field trips to the Kakagon Slough and to Stockton Island. Presenters included the commission’s Jim St. Arnold and NPS’s Damon Panek, who discussed the interrelationship between native cultures and the environment, Dr. Bill Bland from UW-Extension who explained the science of climate change, and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore’s superintendent Bob Krumenaker, who described the impacts of climate change on national parks and protected areas.
“We are already experiencing climate change in the Apostle Islands,” said Krumenaker. “Increasing air and water temperature, decreasing ice cover on the lake, and intensive storms are having an impact on how visitors experience the park.”
Teachers participating in the workshop committed to developing climate change service projects for their students to help them use parks as classrooms. Transportation scholarships will help cover costs of bringing students to the national lakeshore.
Teachers were uniformly enthusiastic about their experiences at the workshop. Bayfield High School science teacher Rick Erickson noted that he had attended many teacher workshops in the past and said that “this is one of the best I’ve ever been to.”
“I appreciated the balance between the information presented, the experiential opportunities, and the opportunity to network with other teachers and work on curriculum. The workshop did a great job focusing on place-based education. This is crucial. We must focus on teaching about where we are."
"When I saw that we would be teaching about climate change this fall, I thought ‘Ugghhh!’, said Mia Chmiel from Marathon Venture Academy. “How will we make this tolerable for the kids? Now I see that the cultural impact of climate change is how to approach middle school kids with this topic. I am anxious to bring kids up from central Wisconsin to see how climate change is impacting this region."
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is one of the nine grant recipients participating in the 2012 Parks Climate Challenge program using national parks as classrooms to educate students about climate change. This project was made possible through the generous support of Inner Spark Foundation and individual donors, and is done in partnership with the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation.
For more information on climate change in general and at Apostle Islands, visit the Parks Climate Challenge webpage and the Apostle Islands climate change webpage.