Educational mission takes center stage

In addition to caring for wildlife, Pine View teaches children to respect nature, and now that part of its work will get a boost from TV show
Ozaukee Press staff

Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center has built a reputation as the place to care for injured wildlife.

But it’s that second part of its mission, education, that’s taking center stage as the Town of Fredonia heads to the small screen.

Pine View and its efforts to teach young people about their place in the world and how they can help sustain it will be the focus of an episode of public television’s “Into the Outdoors” that will be filmed beginning this spring.

The show, Pine View Executive Director Jeannie Lord said, is a blessing since the pandemic made it impossible to continue offering the in-school programs the agency has been providing for decades.

“There’s no going back from Covid,” Lord said. “The days of 150 kids coming to a presentation are gone.

“This is huge. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, no question about it. 

“With this, we can disseminate our message to a larger audience, no matter where they live. We can reach more people through ‘Into the Outdoors’ than we could in a lifetime as a small non-profit organization.”

Pine View, which was founded by Lord in 1981, is recognized as a leader in the field of wildlife rehabilitation but realized early on that the best way to make a real difference was to teach youngsters to respect the environment.

“Our educational programs have been a well-kept secret,” Lord said.

From the beginning, she said, the staff has reached out to schools and students. The non-profit organization would put on popular educational programs to schools, bringing in injured wildlife to show children the impact humans have on the world around them.

In recent years, Lord said, she has worked to bring the program to more and more schools.

“To grow Pine View and our educational goals beyond the immediate is difficult,” she said, noting they want to reach people in areas that are urban, suburban and rural.

In partnership with Quad Packaging, which Lord called a leader in sustainability efforts, Pine View created a classroom kit aimed at children in fourth through eighth grades that shows youngsters what they can do to make a difference in the world environment.

The kit, which includes a video, workbook and activities, took five years to create, Lord said, calling it a “year-long educational, science literature, environmental supplement” to the regular curriculum.

In its first year, the kit was enthusiastically received by educators, she said. But in the second year, 2020, Covid hit and teachers, stressed to provide their standard curriculum, told her they didn’t have the opportunity to use the kits.

Lord was driving home from a trip to northern Wisconsin in fall when she got a call that Pine View was recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to be featured on “Into the Outdoors.”

“I said, ‘Oh my gosh. This is serendipitous,’” she recalled. 

Since then, she’s been meeting with the crew from the PBS show to shape the episode, a process that is ongoing.

“I’m entering a whole new world,” Lord said, adding the show will focus on the relationship between people and wildlife, its impact on animals and how individuals can make changes big and small to prevent the negative impacts.

Initially envisioned as one segment in the show focused on Pine View’s educational efforts with students in fourth through eighth grades, it has since expanded to be the focus of the entire hour-long show, thanks to Quad Packaging’s decision to underwrite the episode.

Paul Nowak, vice president of enterprise solutions, packaging and sustainability for Quad Packaging, said the partnership with Pine View is a natural extension of the company’s efforts to be a responsible firm.

“Into the Outdoors” is the next stage in that joint educational effort, Nowak said. 

“I’m excited about it,” he said, especially since PBS has a digital platform for education beyond the show that they will be developing content for.

“We want to not just educate but to show them (children) actions they can take,” he said. “We don’t want to be preachy. We tell them that they’re part of the ecosystem and here are things you can do to help it.”

Those things can be as small as placing recycling and garbage in the proper containers, Nowak said, adding that to bring the message home they can look at things that are familiar to kids, such as masks.

It’s a message that children can bring home and talk to their parents about when they ask, what did you learn in school today, he noted.

“These are issues we have to bring to the attention of young people — sustainability, responsibility,” Lord said. “And this will enable us to reach a far larger audience.”

Filming is set to begin this spring and the show should be out in late summer or early fall, she said. Some of the filming will be done at Pine View and its two facilities, but other portions of the show will be filmed at schools and other community venues.

It will be syndicated, she added, and will be disseminated over social media, giving the program a world-wide reach.

“It’s an invaluable opportunity,” Lord said.

Nowak, who said they just finished creating storyboards for the show last week, said the show offers a chance for the three entities to showcase their strengths.

“We can bring the packaging and marketing,” he said.”Jeannie can bring the ability to educate, the vocabulary for the environment. And PBS understands how to create episodes that work well for children.”

For Lord, the show is part of a “wonderful lifetime learning journey” that brings hope for the future.

“I’m an educator,” she said. “Education is my heart, and so is wildlife.”



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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