Grant will help NOSD see the forest for the trees

District will use $127,000 from Krier Foundation to take big-picture approach to improving outdoor learning areas
Ozaukee Press staff

On any given day, Northern Ozaukee School District students can be found immersed in nature at the school’s forest — the Mark Montaba Nature Center. Here, students learn through outdoor lectures and by collecting samples from the center’s pond, but its lawn-mowed paths make the school’s amenity inaccessible to some.

Earlier this month, the Northern Ozaukee School District received a $127,000 grant from the Bruce Krier Charitable Foundation that will fund the nature center’s restoration efforts, and to create new outdoor learning spaces for students of all ages.

The grant has been preliminarily divided into three categories. The district plans to designate $72,500 for new outdoor classroom structures, including an amphitheater, outdoor pavilions and seating. This will be accompanied by $46,000 towards restoring existing outdoor learning areas, such as the nature center.

“Our goal with that space is to be able to finish all the trails that are there. So right now we have existing trails, but we’re gonna gravel all those, make [them] ADA accessible,” Supt. Dave Karrels said. “The goal is to really have that be a usable space for students, staff and the community, to really make those true walking trails.”

With these proposed gravel paths, the community can take full advantage of the property since it will be easier to get around and less susceptible to rainy weather, Karrels said.

The remaining $8,500 in grant money will be spent on landscape architectural design for the new NOSD Backyard, an outdoor learning space to be located behind the elementary school. According to Karrels, this is just the beginning and it will be a multi-year project.

Karrels said this approach to improving the district’s outdoor learning areas — both in the forest and the new backyard — is essential because education needs to be tailored by age and cognitive development.

“We’d like to have a 4-K through second-grade area that’s kind of specific for them. Then we know we have a third-grade through fifth-grade group, that’s a little different need, right?” Karrels said. “They learn differently, what area might be specific for them? Currently, it’s just an asphalt area and then there’s a couple different play structures. It would be nice to clean that up as well.”

Riveredge Nature Center in the Town of Saukville, which operates the Northern Ozaukee School District Riveredge Outdoor Learning charter school, provides a scientist-in-residence who helps teachers decide how to best use the district’s outdoor spaces. However, these spaces aren’t just for science classes, but for all coursework.

“Students who are in English classes go out there to write a paper or to do a chapter book read,” Karrels said. “Then our high school science teacher will go out there with students and they take water samples for biology class from the pond, or look at different plant species.”

The district has recieved grants totaling $820,720 over the last six years from the Bruce Krier Charitable Foundation, named after late president and CEO of Krier Foods in Random Lake.

In previous years, the money was used to upgrade the Ozaukee Elementary School Media Center, purchase new SMART panels with Lenovo laptops for staff and buy 200 new Chromebooks with the creation of the Bruce Krier Innovation Room.



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Ozaukee Press

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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