The Arboretum’s new outreach and education coordinator, Gail Epping Overholt, began working at the Arboretum January 11—Aldo Leopold’s birthday—and has already brought enthusiasm and fresh ideas as she digs into the educational programs and renews and grows her Madison networks.
For more than a decade, Epping Overholt has worked to help communities develop resilience and build capacity in dealing with stormwater issues and legacy contamination in Great Lakes harbor communities. Before that, she ran environmental education programs at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and Olbrich Botanical Gardens. A self-described wetland geek, she has also served as Board Chair of the Friends of Cedarburg Bog and board member of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association.
Epping Overholt’s vision for the Arboretum’s education programming is to continue building community connections through restoration education and field experiences that foster a deep appreciation of and connection to the land. Her ideal program “would offer a variety of learning opportunities for all ages and abilities, from ‘acorns to oaks,’ promoting lifelong learning to a broad audience with broad interests.”
Strong connections with the schools are key, meeting the needs of teachers and students and promoting science literacy and college readiness as we teach about the land. Epping Overholt says, “After all, we want these students to be future caretakers of the land, regardless of their profession. In all that we do, we want to be deliberate and strategic, but also flexible and responsive to the land community, keeping in mind that includes people, plants, animals, soil, and the waters we rely on.”