STEVENS POINT - Learning about caring for injured wildlife, beneficial local plants or navigating the outdoors is now as easy as watching an online video, according to environmental education and interpretation students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point's Schmeeckle Reserve and Central Wisconsin Environmental Station.
As part of their education each semester, students in practicum classes at both university field stations create and lead in-person public nature programs. When nearly all of these were canceled this spring because of COVID-19, the students adapted by creating videos of their presentations, either at home or on location. The result is 23 family nature videos, five preschool videos and two summer camp activity videos, all available for free online.
"The videos are a great resource for families, for homeschooling parents and anyone interested in nature," said Megan Espe, Schmeeckle Reserve's outreach coordinator and practicum instructor. "The information can be used while walking at the reserve or put to use right in your own backyard."
The students learned how to use video editing software and redesigned their programs for an online audience, Espe said. The classes met on Zoom to practice, discuss and get feedback on the videos.
These environmental educators share information on a variety of wildlife topics, outdoor navigation, foraging, birding, lawn and gardening tips and nature-based activities. The preschool series is more interactive, with songs and activities.
"I was really impressed with the students' creativity, enthusiasm and support of each other," Espe said. Adding a video aspect to the course increases their skillset and will be used again when students return to campus, she said.
Hannah Badgett of Janesville, a May graduate in wildlife education, worked on several videos. She said she enjoyed having the creative freedom to present information in new ways and looks forward to using technology in her future career.
"These days, knowing how to create engaging virtual material is incredibly important," she said. "I developed lots of new skills and patience for teaching online, which will help me reach a wider audience."
Schmeeckle Reserve's trails are open to the public from sunrise to sunset and picnic tables near the back Visitors Center which remains closed. Feeders in the bird viewing area are filled on a weekly basis.
"When using the reserve, please continue to follow social distancing guidelines for the safety of all visitors," said reserve director Jim Buchholz.
Find student videos and information on offerings on both field stations HERE or on the CWES website HERE (at CWES, see virtual links under "School Programs" and "Summer Camp.")
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
NORTHWOODS - Wisconsin's lakes have a lot to offer their visitors. But some, like aquatic invasive species, are unwelcome due to the damage they can cause to native ecosystems.
There's a growing effort to prevent, contain, and control the spread of these aquatic invasive species, especially this holiday weekend. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, volunteers will be stationed across popular boat landings, doing inspections and educating boaters on how to properly clean their boats.
"Any type of holiday weekend, especially the fourth of July when there's a lot more boat traffic, there's an emphasis on getting more awareness out there," said DNR recreation warden Justin Bender.
Aside from volunteers, most boat landings also have information posted on aquatic invasive species and the laws regarding boat cleaning. Citations for not properly cleaning your boats typically run $200-300.
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
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