Post by Dave Spitzer, Board Member and Educator

Summer is done, but those kids should still be getting outside!

In fact, seasonal change provides one of the best backdrops for experiencing the range of nature’s cycles. Animal cycles, plant cycles; all driven by weather and climate cycles. Things change outside, especially at Wisconsin latitudes.

Observing and experiencing seasonal change actually has its own scientific term: Phenology. Phenology tunes us to nature’s timings and reminds us of the life cycles that continue to support the planet’s ecological webs.

If children and adults sense and identify the continuing phenological changes they can better appreciate nature’s amazing dynamics. Ideally, they will include themselves as members of the ecological web. Our children, especially, need that natural attachment; this membership. When kids are outside, they’ll see the migrating flocks, smell new apple blossoms, collect acorns and pick hitch-hiker seeds off their pants. It’s phenology!

Earth Day, 2019

Occassional postings from Members, Partners, and Guests

I guess my outdoor exploration genes go back to my elementary school years. The family house was located on the edge of an abandoned field, which led down to some woods and a small creek. I spent a massive amount of time out there in all seasons, after scooting out the back door.

Decades later I taught 4th grade here in Madison and integrated much of the curriculum into environmental and nature issues. We usually went out to “the forest” five or six times a year – tenting in the campground, following the wonderful naturalists and working on service projects.

children's hands holding up a globe of the earth

Elementary children are now in a critical generation to understand Mother Earth – especially on issues of sustainability, ecologies, fresh water, climate and global finiteness. They must dive into these in their own age-appropriate realms. As adults of the near future, they will be advocates and decision-makers for a healthy Earth. The School Forest is a wonderful local or “home” setting to show the way.

It is a privilege to be a member of the Friends of the Madison School Forest; to help make available and preserve natural acreage for young people. The Friends welcomes members to expand our group!

Dave Spitzer, FOMSF Board Member