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JD Smith, MacKenzie Center director photo c. WDNR ©2014

MacKenzie Center kicks off school year with new programs, partnerships

 

POYNETTE, Wis. — With 11 new course offerings that build on topics taught in K-12 classrooms, the MacKenzie Center is welcoming 29 new schools and groups eager to participate in its unique environmental and conservation education and outdoor skills programs this year.

From forestry and stream studies to watershed mapping and an exploration of predator-prey relationships, classes at the MacKenzie Center provided hands-on field opportunities to 3,738 students from 90 schools and organizations so far this year. These experiences extended the knowledge and skills developed through regular classroom work. The January through August student numbers are slightly ahead of last year and will continue to grow as more of the new schools begin their involvement with the center.

Year-to-date, students from 16 counties stretching from La Crosse to Milwaukee to Juneau as well as northern Illinois have traveled to take part in MacKenzie programs. Principals and educational leaders from Wisconsin’s sister state of Chiba Prefecture in Japan and students from Jianxi University in China also visited the center, which is just 25 miles north of Madison and easily accessible from Interstate Highway 39/90/94.

“With its historic conservation aura and educational opportunities designed for today’s students, the MacKenzie Center increasingly draws participants from around our state and around the world,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp. “If you are an educator interested in cutting-edge environmental programs and outdoor skill building for your students, we like to say that all roads lead to MacKenzie.”

JD Smith, MacKenzie Center director, said the center’s curriculum draws on the comprehensive science, wildlife management and environmental protection expertise of DNR staff.

“The department’s capabilities help set our programs apart from other nature centers,” Smith said.”Students gain a unique opportunity to work with members of our education staff and other experts from wildlife, forestry, fisheries and more. Many of our participating schools bring students back for multiple visits, which enables us to work with the teachers and their classes on a more advanced level.”

Schools, community groups, home school families and others with an interest in learning more about MacKenzie Center programs are encouraged to contact the center’s education staff at 608-635-8105 or email. Additional program details may be found online by searching the DNR website, for MacKenzie.

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