High School Students Explore Ecological Restoration through Latino EPS-Sponsored Arboretum Visit

Latino Earth Partnership (Colaboración Ambiental) is a synthesis of the UW-Madison Arboretum’s Earth Partnership for Schools (EPS) program with Spanish language and Latino cultures and communities in the U.S. The partnership will bring together educators, parents, organizations and resources to link environmental concerns to academic achievement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), health, social studies, languages and the arts. Teams are working in schools and communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico with a K-20 curriculum that extends across discipline, ecosystem, culture and place. Teams from Puerto Rico were trained in 2009 at the Arboretum, implementing projects on Vieques and Culebra islands. We are currently in the process of programming LEP in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and with Madison’s Sister City, Tepatitlán de Morelos, Mexico.

LEP hosted 17 members of Centro Hispano’s Escalera Program at the arboretum on July 1, 2013. Morning introductions involved the students in the ever popular “Botany Bouquet” activity. Student’s introduced themselves and their respective schools and in the process we also learned to identify native plants and their botanical names. Prior to getting a tour of the Indian Mounds on the Arboretum, the students sat in on a 10 minute introductory film about the Arboretum in the Orientation Theater. Our staff was also able to offered historical perspective to the Murals – People of the Land by the artist Victor Bakhtin found in the same area.

This was followed by a walk across the beautiful Longenecker Horticultural Gardens to the Indian Mounds of the Arboretum. The students were very excited about the fact that the Mounds are still visible to the naked eye and more importantly that they were able to physically measure the wing distance of one of the burials. Lunch offered an opportunity to recoup the energy before launching into the afternoon activities of “What’s Green and Grows All Over.” This was followed by the general discussion of environmental education and careers and what has been the experience of some of our staff. Overall, the day’s event was quite successful. We are considering offering this days’ event as a way to introduce ecological restoration and environmental careers to different audiences.

Maria del Carmen Moreno, Ph.D.
Earth Partnership Multicultural Outreach Specialist