Netherwood Knoll Elementary

The NKE Arboretum is a large courtyard-like area in the middle of our school in Oregon, Wis. In recent years this space had become overgrown and largely unusable, but in March 2012, efforts began to renovate the space to turn it into a complete outdoor classroom and garden based on the Arbor Day Foundation’s Nature Explore Classroom. This is a complete volunteer effort and is supported solely by grants and donations.

The mission statement of the NKE Arboretum is: The NKE Arboretum will serve to promote student learning by nurturing an appreciation for diverse learners (multiple intelligences, learning modalities, interests) at our school, creativity in the areas of art, music, exploration, fine motor skills, literacy and more, an appreciation and understanding of nature and sustainability, and a love for healthy food and lifestyles.

More recently, we have started taking part in monarch tagging through Monarch Watch, and our Nature Explore Classroom is the headquarters for this. This organization started in 1992 as “an outreach program dedicated to engaging the public in studies of monarchs and is now concentrating its efforts on monarch conservation.” When our monarchs are ready to be released, a very small sticker with tracking information is attached to a wing. If a tagged butterfly is found, the data can be used to determine the pathways taken by migrating monarchs, the influence of weather on the migration, and the survival rate of the monarchs.