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T.O.A.D.

Teaching Outdoor Awareness and Discovery

Our T.O.A.D program provides environmental and conservation topics in the classroom and extends classroom learning into the outdoors. Some key areas addressed are water, soil erosion, watershed, groundwater, fish and wildlife habitat, nature identification, and wetlands. We provide field equipment and a knowledgeable staff to teach lessons and address groups free of charge.

Who is it for?
T.O.A.D. is available to all groups and organizations that have an interest in learning about the natural environment. There are learning opportunities for school groups, lake associations, technical training classes, and youth groups of all ages.

Lessons, Activities, & Talks
We have some selected lessons and talks, but are also willing to address other land or water resource subjects you choose. Please contact us at least three weeks in advance to schedule any program.

If you are interested in a program and your specific grade level is not listed, or if you would like a customized program on a specific topic (or a combination of topics) please contact the Information & Education Specialist. Many of the programs can be adapted for different age groups and custom programs can be created to fit your needs and/or curriculum.

Some Comments from Teachers & Leaders

  • The kids love it!
  • The more kids learn about the environment the more they will understand and take care of it!
  • Fun way to learn science!
  • Anne is so knowledgeable and she gears her content to the age level of the students.
  • Students talked about the presentation for days afterwards.
  • Great Program! One 5th Grade boy insists he wants to be a biologist!
  • Coincides with our school curriculum & state standards and brings in hands-on experiences we don't have access to otherwise.
  • Thank you for the TOAD programs!

    Indoor/Classroom:

    All Creatures Great & Small (Grades Pre K-6)
    - How are animals different? Participants are introduced to the concept of classification by discussing differences between birds, fish, reptiles, mammals and amphibians. They will also get a chance to look at examples from different animal groups using hand-on materials (pelts, skulls, feathers, etc.) If time allows, several group games can be used to present concepts discussed (predator-prey, camouflage, etc).

    Animals of the Underground (Grades Pre K-6) - Animals under your feet?  an introduction to burrowing (fossorial) wildlife, their adaptations for survival, and lifestyles.  Includes hands-on examples of different species.  A visit to the Harmony Arboretum's "Chipmunk's Tunnel" is recommended as a follow up activity for more on fossorial habitata.

    Aquatic Exotic Species (Grades 6-12) - Alien invaders? A PowerPoint presentation is given about four different exotic species in Wisconsin: zebra mussels, purple loosestrife, rusty crayfish, and eurasian water milfoil. Participants learn how and why these species cause problems for natural communities as well as people, and what preventative measures are used to stop their spread. Real specimens are shown.

    Astronomy (Grades 3 - 12) What's that shape in the night sky? Learn about the history of astronomy, constellation myths, and the "stuff" in space. A computer program is used to simulate the night sky as we discuss constellations, star myths, deep space objects, and more. Monthly skymaps and other informational handouts are provided. If requested, this program can be held in the evening (see description in "outdoors" below.

    Environmental Careers (Grades 6-12) - Need a job? Participants learn about what kinds of opportunities are available in conservation, natural resources, environmental & outdoor education, environmental protection, and other related fields. Schooling options, programs, and courses of study are also discussed. Websites, resume tips, and other information will be available. If you wish, have a list of questions from the participants to help the presenter address specific jobs and/or topics they are interested in.

    Flying Colors (Grades Pre K-3) - What's that creature? Discussion includes the butterfly life cycle, kinds of butterflies, the differences between butterflies and moths, and other related topics.  A story is included, and several hands-on materials are brought for students to handle.  An outdoor "butterfly hunt" may be included if time allows, and other related stories or activities may be included.

    Habitat Chat (Grades 2-12) - What is a habitat? The components of habitat are discussed and participants learn about how animals are adapted to different habitats by looking at examples of mammals, birds, and other animals. Topics such as human impact on habitats and predator-prey relationships may be included. Participants will have an opportunity to see the examples brought for a more up-close look at these animals.

    Have Seed, Will Travel (Grades 2-6) - How do seeds get around? Participants discover the function and importance of plant seeds by discussing methods of seed dispersal and how plants have adapted for different lifestyles. Different examples of seeds are shown during the lesson. Participants then will work in groups to "invent" a seed for a specific dispersal method, and compare their seeds to the real things.

    Meet Henry Hydro Oxide - H2O (Grades Pre K-3) - What is the water cycle? Follow Henry the water drop as he travels through the water cycle, and discuss why the water cycle is essential to life on Earth.  Demonstrations illustrate concepts like groundwater, water use, and water pollution.  Other water-related topics/activites may also be covered (ex. water quality, aquatic animal adaptations, etc.).  Students will receive materials to make their own "water cycle wheel" to review concepts discussed in the program.

    Nocturnal Animals (Grades PreK- 6) Nocturnal Nuisances? An introduction to some of Wisconsin's nighttime wildlife, their adaptations for survival, and their importance. Misconceptions/myths about some species are also addressed (ex, bats, wolves, snakes) to better help students appreciate these animals' place in nature. Includes hands-on examples of different species and their nighttime sounds.

    Owl Pellets (Gr. 2-8) Who’s eating who? Learn about Wisconsin’s native owl species, adaptations for hunting, and their place in food chains. Students will dissect an ‘owl pellet’, try to identify prey and bones, and make a ‘bone collage’ of the parts found.

    Reptiles & Amphibians (Grades PreK-8) Slithery snakes, tough turtles, slimy salamanders, and more! This program studies the similarities and differences between reptiles and amphibians, or herptiles. We'll talk about their lifestyles & behaviors and how, as a group herptiles are an important part of ecosystems. Depending on the time of year, live animals may be available for observation.

    Skins and Skulls (Grades K-12) - Wonderful Wildlife of Wisconsin! Learn about some of Wisconsin's more common 72 mammal species, including topics like habitat preferences, survival strategies, & adaptations. Real mammal furs and skulls are used and participants are able to handle them at the end of the presentation, during a question & answer session.

    Skullduggary (Grades 6-12) - Got Skulls? Participants are introduced to an array of wildlife skulls (mostly mammalian) and discuss skull adaptations, especially those relating to food habits and teeth types. An activity helps relate skull adaptations to food habits (herbivore, omnivore, carnivore) and participants are also introduced to the concept of using identification keys.

    Tricky Tracks (Grades 5-12) - Whose "shoes"? Participants learn why tracking is useful and what to look for when identifying animal tracks - foot shapes, claws, patterns, direction, and stride. Plaster tracks of several species are shown for practice identification, as well as several examples of animals whose tracks are commonly seen. Participants then get to make thier own plaster casts using pre-made track molds. An outdoor hike to look for tracks is an option if weather permtis.

    Water Conservation & Pollution Prevention (Grades 4-12) - How much water? Participants learn about how we use water and what we can do to help protect our water resources, and what sources threaten our water quality. Demonstrations are used to show how much freshwater we have available on Earth and how we use our water on a daily basis. An Enviroscape model (shows various pollution sources) and a video may also be used if time allows. Other water related topics/activities may also be covered (ex. wastewater treatment, biological indicators, etc.).

    Wells & Groundwater: Deep Subjects (Grades 6-12) - Where does your water come from? A groundwater model is used to demonstrate groundwater movement and participants learn how wells pump water to the surface. They also learn about how groundwater can be polluted or depleted by human use and help take part in the demonstration.

    Wetland Ecology (Grades 4-12) - What is a wetland? A PowerPoint presentation about different freshwater wetland types is given and participants discuss the importance of wetlands to people, wildlife, and ecosystems. A "wetland in a pan" shows how wetlands work and the group does an activity that reviews the benefits of wetlands. Various hands-on materials, including aquatic mammal furs, are also available for handling at the end of the class.

    Wildlife Facts & Tracks (Grades Pre K-4) - Want to know more about Wisconsin wildlife? Participants are introduced to Wisconsin's native mammals by looking at pelts, skulls and plaster tracks while learning more about each species.  Participants will also make their own animal track stamp book of 15 common Wisconsin mammals (plaster tracks are not made during this program - see "Tricky Tracks").  Topics such as habitat, adaptations, and predator-prey relationships may be discussed during the presentation.

    Winter Wildlife Survival (Grades PreK-6) - How do animals survive the winter? Participants learn about winter survival strategies and adaptations of animals though a story and participating in various role-playing activities. If your school or organization has snowshoes available, an outdoor hike to search for wildlife signs is also an option.

    You Eat Like a Bird (Grades 2-6) - How are bird beaks different? Bird adaptations are amazing, especially their food-gathering methods - their beaks! Participants are introduced to birds and their food habits by looking at several examples of birds and discussing how birds are adapted to live in different habitats and eat different foods. Then they do an activity where they simulate being birds, and must choose the right "beak" for getting their food, depending on what kind of "habitat" they live in.

    Outdoors: (weather permitting)

    Aquatic Creepy Critters (Grades 4-12)
    - What lives in aquatic habitats? Participants pull on hip boots and explore the underwater world of aquatic insects and other organisms by collecting and identifying specimens using identification keys and field guides. Examine the role of these animals in the food web, as well as adaptations that help them survive an aquatic environment. In addition, many aquatic critters are water quality indicators - participants do an inventory of different specimens and use the results to speculate about water quality and how "healthy" the habitat is. Many topics can be tied into this program - sources of water pollution, shoreline ecology, food chains, etc.

    Astronomy (Grades 3-12) - What's that shape in the sky? Learn about the history of astronomy, constellation myths, and the "stuff" in space. Take a basic stargazing rour, make your own star chart, view sky objecs with a telescope, and more. Please note this is meant to be an evening activity, but if requested an indoors version can be presented.

    Bingo Bugs (Grades Pre K-4) - Got bugs? Participants duscuss what they know about insects and are shown some examples to see how insects are different. Then they play "insect bingo" while on a hike to help review what they know about insects, and get to observe insects up close in their natural habitats. This activity can also be used in conjunction with "Inspect an Insect".

    Birding Basics (Grades Pre K-6) - Want to know more about birds? Participants discuss different bird shapes, sizes, colors, and habitats, and get to see and hear examples of different kinds of birds. Participants then go on a birding hike using binoculars and field guides to help them identify brids. If time allows participants can draw a bird they saw, or the group may play a game about migration or predator -prey relationships.

    Colorful Confusion (Grades 2-8) - How do animals hide? Participants learn about differnt kinds of camouflage and how it protects animals from predators by looking at examples from differnt types of animals. Hiding behavior and habitat types may also be discussed. A "camouflage" version of hide n' seek is played to show the importance of camouflage to wildlife.

    Inspect an Insect (Grades 4-8) - What makes an insect? Participants learn the characteristics of true insects and what purposes their body parts serve, as well as the importance of insects as a group. Characteristics of different insect Orders are discussed and examples are shown. Participants then go on an insect hike, and are given equipment and a worksheet to help them identify and observe specimens they find. The group will compare their findings and share interesting facts about insects they found. 

    Mark Your Territory (Grades 4-8) Making sense of scents? Participants discover how animals use scent to mark territories, interact with other animals, and find food. Split into two teams, half of the participants use their sense of smell to follow through a territory marked by the other team. The final activity is a game that shows them the importance of territories, the competition for them and the limited resources they contain.

    Natures Art (Grades 1 - 6) - Nature's masterpieces?  How have humans used nature for art?  A brief discussion about how humans use natural resources for art, and then a short outside hike to collect natural materials for use in a take-home art project. Materials provided.

    Nature Games Grades (1 - 8) - Do you want to play?  A variety of fun nature games & activities to help students learn about concepts like habitat, adaptations, wildlife, populations, and more.  Can be held indoors if there is appropriate space like a gym or large open classroom.

    Nature's Recyclers (Grades 3-8) - Nature's garbage men? Participants learn about differnent kinds of decomposers and why they are important to ecosystems, and are shown samples of each kind. The group then goes on a "rotten-log hunt" for up-close observation of decomposers and other creatures that may be present. They are given a data sheet to record what they find and other materials to help them with their observations. The group will also try to identify decomposers and insects, and then compare their observations.

    Tree Identification (Grades 4 - 12) What kind of tree do you see? A basic introduction to tree identification using characteristics like branching patterns, leaves, bark, & fruits. Examples are shown of different tree parts and how to use them in identifying tree species. Use of identification key is introduced and then participants go on a tree ID hike outside to use the key and identify trees in the vicinity. This program can be used as a follow up to the Trees Inside & Out program, or by itself.

    Trees Inside & Out (Grades 4-12) - How do trees work? Participants review basic tree parts and their function while looking at examples of each part. Then the inside parts of the tree are introduced (phloem, cambium, sapwood, heartwood) while looking at tree "cookies" (cross-sections). Tree-themed activities and/or handouts may be utilized to help the participants understand the concepts introduced during class. This program can also be combined with leaf/tree/winter twig identification activites.

    Tree Tots (Grades Pre K-3) - What makes a tree? Participants discuss the main parts of a tree and what each part does. Examples of tree parts are shown and students get a chance to look at them up close. Also discussed are leaf characteristics and how we can use leaves and other clues to identify trees. The group then goes on a tree hike and may even get to "meet a tree" (a sensory activity) or make leaf or bark rubbings.

    Twig Detectives (Grades 5-8) - How do you identify trees without leaves? Participants will learn how to use twigs, bark, and other clues (nuts, seeds, etc.) to identify trees in winter/early spring when trees are without leaves. They will then go on a hike to identify trees by looking at twigs and make bark rubbings of certain trees. This activity can also be used as part of "Trees Inside & Out" (see above).

    Water Quality Investigation (Grades 6-12) - Testing the waters? Participants use a variety of chemical tests and equipment to test water samples from an aquatic habitat. Results are recorded and discussed, and participants learn why certain chemicals are tested for and how those chemicals affect water quality and the organisms that live there. Many topics can be tied into this proram - sources of water pollution, biological indicators, etc.

    “Thank you to the following donors for supporting our efforts in promoting environmental education in Marinette County”

  • Kimberly Clark Corporation
  • Herbet H. Kohl Charities
  • The Aerial Company
  • Safari Club International Foundation Sables
  • National Association for Interpretation Region 5
  • Thyssen Krupp Waupaca
  • Wal*Mart
  • Marinette Camera Fair
  • Friends of Camp Bird