Redefining Nature Centers

Riveredge is more than a nature center. Its legacy of innovation, partnerships, and leadership in the areas of land restoration, research, and inquiry-based education throughout Wisconsin serve as strong foundation to its future initiatives.  Today, Riveredge is pioneering methods of redefining a community’s relationship to a nature center. Riveredge is achieving its mission by empowering and supporting communities to live in harmony with their natural environment…oh, and having fun it in too.

One way we are currently re-writing assumptions of nature centers is through school partnerships. Formal partnerships between local nature centers and school districts are an opportunity to deepen learning and life skill outcomes.  Partnerships that expand beyond field trips allow for deeper relationships between a local nature and their communities.  Riveredge Nature Center (RNC) and the Cedarburg School District (CSD) have completed two years of such a partnership.  We are sharing the information about our partnership as a way to spread the word and help other nature centers and environmental organizations consider perusing deeper relationships with their school districts which may positively affect not only the students, but the entire community.  If you’d like to learn more please consider the following items.  Thank you to the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board for funding our evaluation project of this partnership through a 2013-14 grant.

Jewel & Megan

Our partnership with Cedarburg School District has led us to think even BIGGER at Riveredge.  How could we reduce barriers to outdoor and environmental learning within our formal education systems?

In five years’ time, we see the students of your school district healthier, happier, more creative, and inspired by the world around them. We envision a school system where the outdoors is interconnected to the foundation of every day just as technology is interwoven through all subject areas.  We witness schools that do not have to make the choice between less recess time and more reading time because teachers have learned ways of transforming their local outdoor spaces into classrooms. We see the evolution of the next generation of scientists.

The vision of this cutting-edge project is to work in a true partnership with local school districts to transform the culture of our formal education system through the integration of outdoor learning experiences, environmental science learning, and the implementation of sustainability projects and initiatives.

In its most basic description, the “Riveredge School Naturalist Program” will place a fully funded environmental educator into local schools or school districts four days per week for five years, to meet the needs defined by the school district in order to achieve this vision.

Interested in learning more?  Contact Jessica Jens, Executive Director ( or 262-416-1068)

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