Posted by: csdailyblog | January 26, 2013

Land Ethic Leaders Program

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Conserve School staff members are making good use of their training time in between semesters. This past week Education Coordinator Jennifer Kobylecky and Education Assistant Anna Hawley from the Aldo Leopold Foundation came to Conserve School to provide Land Ethic Leaders training to our staff. Fran McReynolds, Coordinator for the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point graduate fellowship program at Conserve School, assisted Jennifer and Anna in leading the training.

The training began on Tuesday, January 22, with a showing of the movie Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time, which was recently awarded an Emmy for Best Historical Documentary by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Over the next few days, staff members examined the meaning of the term “land ethic” while  experimenting with a variety of group facilitation techniques introduced by the trainers.

The training included a group hike around Little Donahue Lake one morning and a quiet observation session outdoors another morning — all in below-zero weather. Conserve School staff members proved themselves, as always, to be an exceptionally hardy and cheerful bunch, ready for an outdoor adventure regardless of the season. Sitting in the snow for twenty minutes at 20 degrees below zero is a wonderful opportunity to listen to winter birdsong, to notice the winter sunlight and shadows, and to observe tracks and scat on the snow — not to mention a great chance to explore whether or not your winter boots truly live up to their advertising.

Conserve School devotes a remarkably generous amount of  time and resources to ongoing staff training. We set aside two weeks in the fall, three weeks in January, and one week at the end of the year for professional development, ensuring that our staff members benefit from a steady stream of new ideas and stay up-to-date on the constant changes in the world of education.

In our end-of-semester surveys, students never fail to comment on the warm community feeling at Conserve School. Professional development programs like the Land Ethic Leaders training, which bring staff members together for learning, discussion, and fun, are valuable not only for expanding staff members’ skills; they also play an important role in building the strong and healthy sense of community that our students enjoy.

Mary Anna Thornton, Assistant Head of School

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