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$45,210 Grant Awarded to Jackson's Green Initiative

The Jackson Elementary School was recently awarded a $45,210 Sheboygan County Stewardship Grant.

The grant is to help further the Jackson Green Scene Initiative (GSI). GSI has been authorized by the Sheboygan Area School District to utilize 12 acres of fallow land around Jackson School following an emerging effort to tie school grounds to the core mission of the school-teaching and learning environment.

This project includes native landscaping to create habitat and decrease storm water runoff, school gardens for outdoor education and community use, and recreational facilities for physical education and community use. This project will help develop strong environmental stewardship and help reduce the school's environmental footprint, thereby "greening" the school grounds.

Jackson School library media specialist Elizabeth Kaetterhenry and parent Jane Kettler, who is a scientist with Miller Engineers and Scientists, have been working on the initiative for several years.

The Green Scene Initiative team also includes Jackson teachers and parents: David Rautmann (physical education teacher), Katy Ries (music teacher), Patti Holmes (fifth grade teacher), Nancy Trimberger (second grade teacher), Levi Goins (parent), Sheila Miesfeld (parent) and Judi Nigrelli (third grade teacher). Miller Engineers & Scientists, an employee-owned local consulting firm, donated professional services.

"The GSI Team is thankful that the Sheboygan County Planning Department recognized the merit of this project and we are very excited to begin work on this environmental education initiative," said Kaetterhenry. "I would also like to thank Miller Engineers & Scientist for helping us with the concept design. We couldn't have received the grant without it."

Miller worked with the Jackson School staff to generate a concept plan that incorporates many of the elements requested by school staff.

"No words can express how much this grant will positively impact our boys and girls and the larger community we serve," said Lynn Walters, Jackson Elementary School principal. "We can give back and make a difference in our local community and for our taxpayers. The community and taxpayers have been gracious to our school and the district for many years. What a great opportunity to also teach our students stewardship through their direct involvement in developing our green area as a service project. This project will more than likely extend over ten years which means it can touch many boys and girls lives in teaching in a real life application the concept of service to others."

In order to qualify for the grant, GSI had to meet specifics including developing land and promoting conservation of green space.

"Jackson is striving to become a 21st Century school which has the pillars of health education and environmental education, in tandem with technology and core skills," said Walters. "Furthermore, with the growth of obesity in children and adults, we believe it's important to offer opportunities for recreation. We are sitting on a land gold mine for development around Jackson School. The location is ideal as there has been much development recently. We have many families living in the apartment units and newer subdivisions that can use our developed land for recreational use all year round."

Additional funds for GSI have come from fundraising activities including $1,400 raised during the 2007-08 school year, as well as $1,000 from the Jackson School Buildings & Grounds fund. The Sheboygan Area School District will provide the financing and work hours for relocating and replacing the existing fence line around Jackson to provide safety to school students and community users of the Green Scene project.

The project is aligned with the movement toward accessible recreation facilities, neighborhood cohesiveness and conservation subdivisions.

The site is located in an area that shows the effects of urban sprawl. The area was rural just 25 years ago but is now within the Sheboygan City limits and bounded on two sides by a total of 590 apartment units, housing approximately 1,000 people. Apartment complexes provide population density to reduce sprawl, but do not always provide the green space and outdoor amenities that cause people to choose large residential lots in rural areas. The GSI development will provide a variety of accessible outdoor activities for residents in the area particularly those residing in the adjacent apartment complexes.

Included in the initiative is a .25 mile walking path that will be used for physical education classes and the community after school hours. A portion of the west side of the path will be a measured 100-yard straight away for timing sprints and teaching sprint techniques during physical fitness classes.

A wet meadow and butterfly habitat will be created with a mixture of wet meadow and upland plants. The area will serve as a comprehensive educational resource for students studying different types of habitats, soils, erosion, plants and insets.

Ten raised garden beds, no larger than 4'x4', will be used for classroom and community use. The classroom gardens will be irrigated by a rain harvesting system that will improve the quality of storm water while reducing the quantity of storm water leaving the site.

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
January 6, 2009