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Project Bridge offers Maple Avenue students hands-on environmental education experiences

Maple Avenue Elementary School fifth-graders and their teachers will make connections from their classrooms to the environment Feb. 12 and 13 as they participate in Project Bridge. The twoday, one-night program at Camp Whitcomb-Mason in Hartland includes many hands-on activities that integrate the fifth grade curriculum into an environmental education unit. Students also will discover the elements of team-building by participating in the Low Ropes Challenge, facilitated by Camp Whitcomb Mason staff.

In its fifth year, this rich learning experience will be enjoyed by 127 individuals including 71 students, 45 parent chaperones, 10 teachers and the principal. Participants will start the program with camp orientation, a two-mile hike through three habitat areas and the Low Ropes Challenge. Recreational activities include snowshoeing, tobogganing and broom ball hockey.

Schlitz Audubon Society representatives will present “Owls – Silent Hunters” after dinner. Live owls and artifacts will be part of the presentation that culminates in a lab where children dissect owl pellets. “Owl Moon” will be read followed by a night hike in which students and parents observe the winter environment and listen to the signs of the great horned owl. The hike will end when children, parents and staff join for fellowship and songs around the campfire.

The children will separate into groups on the second day rotating between environmental art, the TELLS deer-tracking and signs program, snowshoeing and tracking, and building of their own bird feeders. The participants will keep journals and make numerous entries throughout the trip. Project Bridge is sponsored by the Hamilton Education Foundation, Maple Avenue Home & School Association and fifth grade parents. Teachers Michael Fraundorf and Terry L. Fojtik wrote the grant for the project.

Each participant will be given a special T-shirt designed and printed by Hamilton High School students in Byron Olson’s graphic arts class. The shirt includes a Project Bridge design on the front. On the back are names of camp participants and acknowledgement to the Maple Avenue Home & School Association and the Hamilton Education Foundation for making the experience possible.