Category Archives: Greater Racine Environmental Educators Network

GREEN Participants

We are excited to welcome our GREEN participants: 

  • Jeffrey Appenzeller and Julie Trafton from North Park Elementary School: the school has a nature center where they integrate various subjects, from ecology to math, into nature. Students plant, maintain and harvest food to enhance math and science courses. Jeffrey teaches Science and Julie teaches Art for grades K-5. She helps coordinate the Nature Center and alternates every year between planning the Nature Center’s birthday and creating a video for the birthday party. She also sets up the work days during the summer. Read Full Article Here:North Park
  • Burt Blomgren is a master gardener who does the Botany in the Classroom Program. Read Full Article Here: Botany in the Classroom
  • Sandy DeWalt– The Caledonia Conservancy offers the School-to-Nature Program for fourth and sixth graders. Read Full Article Here: Caledonia Conservancy
  • Mary Kae Laing  is a 4th grade teacher at Westridge Elementary School who shares activities from her classroom such as building terrariums and hatching chickens. Read Full Article Here: Westridge Elementary school
  • Rita Lewis is an administrator at Racine Montessori School. She wants to connect her students with several green activities including: nature centers, rain gardens, green houses, Root River monitoring, prairies of native plants, volunteering at the Eco-Justice Center, cooking, and monarch way stations. Read Full Article Here: Racine Montessori School Helpful Tips
  • Laura Schulz works at the REC Center which is affiliated with UW-Parkside. She leads canoe and kayak trips, water education workshops, and summer workshops revolving around environmental studies for elementary students. She hopes to connect schools with resources the REC offers. Read Full Article Here: REC
  • Aszya Summers is the Conservation Education Manager at the Racine Zoo in charge of school groups. The Racine Zoo offers the Wildlife Explorers program, Frogwatch, Bird Program and many more educational nature programs. Read Full Article Here: Racine Zoo Info
  • Sister Janet Weyker– The Eco-Justice Center offers various programs in environmental education for children and youth. Read Full Article Here:Eco-Justice Center


  • Kari Baumann teaches grade 4 at Olympia Brown, a science focused school. She has participated in the WATERshed field trip. She wants to bring more ecology opportunities to the school.
  • Nancy Carlson is a manager for the WATERshed program. Many of the activities that she coordinates are hands-on and exploratory. 
  • Xu Chen is a teacher at Park High School. She implements nature and ecology in her daily living, cooking, and gardening.​
  • Shelley Doering teaches grades 9-12 at Park High School. She teaches Culinary Arts one and two. She is looking forward to networking with other teachers and having assistance with summer planting and maintenance.
  • Christa Drostefield trips for kindergarteners and tree tapping at Riverbend Nature Center.
  • Jeanne Helinski-ChristensenHorticulture-UW extension, master gardener—gathered inventory for GREEN educators.
  • Marilyn Kiemen– working on bringing retired teachers as volunteers into classrooms, seeking teachers and classrooms to contribute to the transformation of Pritchard Park.
  • Jamian Knuth teaches 7th and 8th graders at 21st Century Preparatory School. “…the title of what I teach from is called Universal Issues in Science for 7th and 8th Grade.  A literacy focus and critical thinking view of a project based curriculum in Science,” he says. Volunteer hours and student portfolios are mandatory for students at 21st Century Prep, so many students participate in various social justice, service learning, and environmentally focused activities. 
  • Michael McConnell teaches K-5 science at Wadewitz Elementary School. Most of his projects include gardens and composting. He is excited to share projects and ideas with the network.  ​
  • Rick Melcher is a math teacher at Park High School. He uses nature in his classes as examples of math in the real world. He hopes the network will help him formalize and improve opportunities for growing food on school grounds throughout Racine.
  • Prisca Moore-Carthage College– prepares college students to go to elementary schools to start school gardens. Also aqua/hydroponics indoors, as well as vermicomposting and river monitoring.
  • Peter O’Shea is a History teacher at Walden III High School. He hopes to have a Greenhouse at his school, improve recycling and add solar panels. 
  • Tom Pfieffer teaches Ecology, Horticulture, and Earth Science at Horlick High School. One of his projects is a raised garden. He has taken his students on various field trips to Quarry Lake and River Bend Nature Center. 
  •  Emily Planton teaches Environmental Studies at Case High School. Facilitates the Case High School Green Team working on recycling, composting, bee keeping, and vegetable garden.
  • Carly Rondeau teaches Business Subjects at Horlick High School. “Built From Nothing” student projects in entrepreneurship and marketing things food created in horticultural classrooms.
  • Nicole Wager teaches 7th and 8th grade science at Gifford and has participated in the WATERshed Program field trip. She is open to looking for more opportunities for her students. 
  • Jane Worsham grows her own food via tower gardens by engaging students of all ages using hydroponic and aeroponic methods. She is looking forward to networking with other teachers in math, science, nutrition, ecology, sustainability, urban gardening and writing. 
  • Mera Yi instructs young adults (ages 18-25) for the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps in sustainable skills and conservation, such as water quality, flood mitigation and permeable pavement installation. Students can gain scholarships or a GED, if not completed. She hopes to have new students join the program offerings anytime!
  • Marybeth Zuhlke is a clinical supervisor for student teachers at UW-Parkside. In addition, she is the secretary for the Root River Council and volunteers with the WATERshed program.  ​


  • Rosalie Daca is the Chief Academic Officer for RUSD. She is looking forward to seeing how the network will help schools positively affect our community. 
  • Terri Tessmann works with the Academies of Racine. She is a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) supervisor for grades K-12 at RUSD.
  • Dr. Christopher Thompson is the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for grades K-12 at the RUSD Administrative Service Center. Sustainability and environmental awareness apply to all aspects of his daily work. Some projects that he has worked on include field trips, the Science Curriculum Review, and teaching with materials such as West Ed “Making Sense of Science”. 

GREEN Febraury Meeting

February 16, 2017 from 4:30 to 5:30 at the IS Training Room RUSD-ASC

  1. Introduction.
  • Cassie Meredith: New GREEN Intern from UW Parkside. Working on writing up articles for the website on all the various environmental projects going on in the schools (or elsewhere). Would love to set up meetings to interview and take pictures! Please email cassi.meredith@gmailcom.

​2.Share and Tell: What you are doing and what is happening at your school/nature center.

  •          Peter O’Shea, Walden III- Paperless Week: to see if it is possible long term, and will donate the money saved. Project to raise money for HALO to get solar panels.
  •          Christopher Thompson- RUSD Administration-add first grade field trip to Ecojustice center, healthy food curriculum, summer school program starting science themes, health& science body shop curriculum doing well, PAC-students get credit for college by taking a semester long course in Chemistry is first time for science
  •          Jeanne Helinski-Christensen, Horticulture-UW extension, master gardener—gathered inventory for GREEN educators and passed it on to Amy Macemon.
  •          Prisca Moore-Carthage College- prepares college students to go to elementary schools to start school gardens. Also aqua/hydroponics indoors. Also vermicomposting and river monitoring.
  •         Christa Droste, Riverbend Nature Center-field trips for kindergarteners, tree tapping
  •          Marilyn Kiemen- bringing retired teachers as volunteers into classrooms, seeking teachers and classrooms to contribute to the transformation of Pritchard Park
  •          Aszya Summers-Racine Zoo-Wildlife explorers program, knows how to relate Science and Next Generation Standards to nature projects, Frogwatch, Bird Program, Restarting composting and start rain barrels at the zoo, teaching Climate Change to kids
  •          Jeff Appenzeller, North Park Elementary- active nature center, invasive species, vermiculture, tree tapping, expand prairie to cover unused grass and make habitats for wildlife
  •          Julie Trafton-Art Teacher at North Park-Utilize Nature Center more in the Spring, Summer-set up work days, Family Garden Nights, Ecofest-handmade paper with seeds that can be planted in ground

3. Presentation by Rita Lewis, Director of Racine Montessori School & Discussion After

  • Powepoint slideshow and video of pictures of students
  • Planting and gardening
  • River monitoring at Root River
  • Wheelbarrows, school received from a Grant
  • Compost every day. Garbage, recycle, and compost bins. Students bring own lunches, therefor no aluminum waste from hot lunch program. Animals at the school also get fed some leftover food.
  • Take care of native plants on grounds
  • Tap maple trees and make syrup and serve the school pancakes
  • Make soup from garden
  • Also working on: more Leopold benches, rain barrels, Girl scouts planting a butterfly garden, little libraries, blessing boxes
  • Values: Community service, respect for nature, working with hands
  • Older students mentor younger students
  • Use books for teaching lessons

4. List of Programs to be developed and offered to all: Program, instructions, kit, Next Generation Standards, how does it teach many subjects:

  • Aszya Summers has training in formal write-ups and can help
  • Resources online and in location- put list on website of teachers looking for help and their contact info (email). Also give schools list of retired teachers willing to help.

5. Items for reports and feedback

  • Retired Teachers contributions-schools they taught at or grandchildren are at. Seeking Requests. (Marilyn Kiemen)
  • Restoration of Pritchard Park-County Project, eager to listen on how to develop land. Roles schools could play in this- Make a Difference Day, Giese and SC Johnson are nearby, Eagle Scout Project ideas (Marilyn Kiemen)
  • Ecofest is March 18th-separate section for schools. Everyone in attendance at meeting will be there. Promotion-Journal Times (Dave Rhoads, Jamian Knuth, Chris Thompson. Julia-set up news interview with someone she knows for Dave. (Dave)
  • Racine Sustainable Business Network (for schools). Thursday, May 17th from 7 to 9am. BRP Plant. (Dave)
  • RUSD Family Empowerment Day-Zoo will have three workshops. Others are encouraged to attend. April 8th (Aszya Summers)

6. Subjects for future meetings and workshops (spring/fall):

  • Certification as “Green & Healthy Schools”- Peter O’Shea from Walden III, present next meeting using school as an example.
  • Other ideas for presentations: RUSD Watershed Program, Tower Gardens and indoor garden carts, composting

Green March Meeting

GREEN Monthly Meeting March 16, 2017 from 4:30-5:30 at the Racine Zoo

  1. Introductions and reports of programs and activities:
  • Cassie Meredith, GREEN intern- has started updating website, linking reports/pictures to everyone’s name who has major projects going on with additional info.
  • (Park High)- vegetables from the Wadewitz greenhouse.
  • Aszya Summers, Racine Zoo- Hoy Audubon is now on board for starting a birding program in schools, applying for a grant to make kits. Also, just got back from a seminar on how to teach climate change. Information on African Penguin for K-12th grade available.
  • Marilyn Kiemen- working to bring retired teachers into the classroom to help with projects.
  • Jamian Knuth, 21st Century Prep School- mural project has been approved. Steven’s Point hosts a project for a month and then present at Environmentathon.
  • Jane Worsham- Tower gardens workshop at Gateway in May.
  • Carly Rondeau, Horlick High- Business teacher, has students build something out of junk and market project in class.
  • Emily Planton, Case High- Tower Gardens, Ecology and Horticulture, leads the Case Green Team. Recycling program, starting beekeeping in April. Stevens Point offers free kits for students to measure energy use in their own home.
  • Jeff Appenzeller and Julie Trafton, North Park- vermiculture for lunch room, 21st anniversary of Nature Center, raise food and tap maple trees for Earth Day. Installing an outdoor Education Center with Leopold Benches. Wants to convert swamps into rain gardens and expand prairie. Need to get young staff to take over.
  • Peter O’Shea- Paperless week at Walden, donated some of the money saved to solar Racine

2. Presentation by Peter O’Shea, Walden III: Becoming a Green and Healthy School

  • Walden III has been a Green & Healthy School since 2007- Sapling School (second from the top level)
  • Must reapply every three years, application process has become more simple over the years
  • 9 focus areas in which you rate yourself
  • Demonstrated some of the application process

3. Conversation and questions

  • Peter O’Shea can help answer questions about the application process

Next meeting will be May 18th from 4:30-5:30 (place TBA)
Next meeting of the GREEN steering committee will be at 21st Century Prep School TBA