Growing up, Sarah Krier was fascinated by the outdoors. On a typical day she would be outside exploring, picking up bugs, and returning home muddy.
These early experiences would set the foundation for her studies at UW-Madison — where she is double majoring in Life Sciences Communication (LSC) and Environmental Studies — as well as lead to the creation of an innovative program designed to teach kids the importance of nature.
With the help of LSC professor Bret Shaw and a Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship award, Krier developed a program to impart the teachings of UW professor and renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold to children. Called “Little Aldos,” the program draws on materials from the nonprofit Aldo Leopold Foundation to help foster an appreciation for the outdoors.
“One of the big focuses is looking at every single part of the environment, whether it’s the dirt, bugs, grass, or the air, and talking about why all of them are important in the cycle, and then how they [the kids] fit into that cycle,” says Krier. “So … when they rip out a handful of grass, how does that affect everything else down the line? That was really powerful for them to see.”
Krier’s Little Aldos began in the summer of 2015 at the YMCA Camp DayCroix in Hudson, Wisconsin where she had been a camp counselor during the previous two years. The program attracted about 80 youngsters and was such a hit that it was offered again during the summer of 2016.
“I am firm believer that no matter how young a child is, they’re looking for a meaningful experience,” says Krier whose meaningful UW experiences helped shape this program. “I definitely think this curriculum I took them through forced them to think about things and ask questions more than a general camp experience would have. They really felt how important they were in the grand scheme of things.”