Scientist in Residence

BringingTo The School Day


  • A school system where the outdoors is interconnected to the foundation of every day.

  • Schools that do not have to make the choice between less recess time and more reading time.

  • Students that are healthier, happier, more creative, and inspired by the world around them.

Because we know getting students outdoors improves their...


In a time when some teens are more stressed out than adults, being surrounded by green space has been linked to reduced stress  and lower likelihood of depressive symptoms. 


Time spent outdoors has been linked to a significant decrease in ADHD symptoms in kids and is now being touted as a supplement, and even replacement, to medication. Studies show the benefits on attention for all- one study’s participants’ performance and attention spans increased by 20% after just an hour interacting with nature.


The list of positive health benefits linked to time spent outdoors is vast but includes increased physical activity (viewed as one of the most important factors for good health by doctors), more Vitamin D (tied to disease fighting and strong bones) and reduced risk of vision loss (natural light can improve children’s chances of not needing eyeglasses).


Environmental education is good for the brain! Schools that include EE programs score higher on tests in math, reading, writing and listening and another study showed an increase in critical-thinking skills in students exposed to environmental education programs.


The benefits of nature are endless! People who spend time playing and learning outdoors have increased negotiating skillsmore caring attitudes, and better creativity.

How It Works

Our theory of transformation is easy as 1-2-3!



Planning For Success

Because two/three/twenty brains are better than one!

The Scientist in Residence program is a true partnership with our local schools to transform their students' relationships with the outdoors. We know each and every community and school is unique, and that means each Scientist in Residence program needs to be unique too!

A visioning process involving school administrators, teachers, and staff ensures each position is tailored directly to the needs of the school and a selection process in which schools make the final decision on who their Scientist in Residence will be ensures buy-in from the start.


Integrating The Outdoors

Because [Insert Subject Here] + Time Outside = Way Better 

Once the vision has been determined, it's time to make that vision a reality! Through the Scientist in Residence program, Riveredge places a fully funded environmental educator directly into the school district. This educator becomes a key part of the school team and works hand-in-hand with teachers and administrators to reduce barriers to outdoor learning. 

The goal is not to add more to teachers' plates (goodness knows those plates are already heaping) but to help integrate the outdoors into the lessons already being taught. Whether it be teaching math with items collected on a nature hike or showing geology in action on the banks of a riverbed, teachers can expand their knowledge and comfort without having to commit to large amounts of extra work.



Review And Repeat

Because sustainability depends on evidence.

Riveredge is committed to making its programs as effective as possible, both to do maximum good in our own communities, but also to serve as models for other organizations looking to bring change to theirs. That's why we bring in the UW-Milwaukee School of Urban Initiatives and Research to conduct a comprehensive independent evaluation of both our current Scientist in Residence programs. Their findings are extremely promising so far- we encourage you to view the latest impact reports for both the West Bend School District and Cedarburg School District

By using these findings to replicate successes and to find improvements for any weaknesses, we can most successfully ensure a transformed school culture that values and integrates the outdoors long after the five years of the project are through. 


Want to know more about what a day in the life of a Scientist in Residence looks like? Check it out!


Sharing The Story

The excitement is catching on! By spreading the news of this unique project throughout the region, we hope to inspire more impactful partnerships between private and public institutions to bring positive change to our communities! Full stories available by clicking on each outlet's logo. 

Get Involved

This project is truly about partnership- not only between Riveredge and the schools, but between so many invested community partners and supporters whose support makes these transformations possible. We know school budgets are tighter than ever, which is why Riveredge works to ensure all Scientists in Residence are fully funded by outside sources.

We’re committed to sustaining each school's Scientist in Residence for five years and to expanding this program throughout the region. Are you able to help us ensure all kids have access to outdoor learning in their school day? Natalie Dorrler, our Associate Director of Development, would love to talk about ways you can help contribute. She can be reached at or 262-375-2715.

To find out the wonderful company you'd be joining, take a look at the current list of supporters below!

With special thanks!

West Bend School District

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company Charitable Foundation

Greater Milwaukee Foundation's Richard E. Stephenson Fund

West Bend Community Foundation’s Johnson Family Fund

Wisconsin Environmental Education Board

Oscar & Augusta Schlegel Foundation

Evan & Marion Helfaer Foundation

Johnson School Bus

Brookby Foundation

Individual Donors

Cedarburg School District

Greater Milwaukee Foundation's Richard E. Stephenson Fund

Ron Horn Environmental Stewardship Fund

The Greater Cedarburg Foundation

Evan & Marion Helfaer Foundation

Cedarburg Education Foundation

Cedarburg Junior Women's Club

Cedarburg Grafton Rotary

Brookby Foundation

Individual Donors