Nature’s Complexity Excites the Curious Adolescent Mind

Education, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Summer Saunter's Program, Milwaukee School District, UW Waukesha Field Station, Bird's Nests, Active Trails

Photo credit: J. Haag
Milwaukee Saunters intently listen about nesting methods at the UW Waukesha Field Station

Musings by Jacob Haag, 2016 Ice Age Trail Alliance Intern

It all started with a hike in the woods.  First as a mentor to fourth graders as part of the Summer Saunters program through Lodi’s school district; now, years later, in my 20’s, as an Intern with the Ice Age Trail Alliance.  It’s the dawning realization of how crucial it was for me, personally, to get outside in nature as a kid, and how important I think it is for others to have a similar experience.  Now, as a group leader, I get to lead bus-loads of kids through a series of stretches and jumping jacks and encourage them to scream at the top of their lungs, “I am a star!”  Why?  Because it’s a fun way to energize bodies and minds after a long bus ride and readying them for their immersion into nature. Continue reading

Summertime: Be Playful, Be Curious, Be Inspired

Ice Age Trail Alliance Ice Age National Scenic Trail Active Trails Grant National Park Service

Photo credit: B. Bednarek

Playing in the sprinkler, climbing trees, and catching lightning bugs make for happy childhood memories.

Nostalgic summer days include Tom Sawyer-like activities: expeditions across fields and through woods, splashing in creeks, and catching wily frogs.

These rushed modern times with tight, busy schedules don’t seem to lend themselves to those long hours of exploration and discovery. To address this need for quality time outdoors, the National Parks Foundation has partnered with organizations like the Ice Age Trail Alliance by awarding an Active Trails grant. This financial support sustains Saunters, an IATA program designed to get kids outside and connected to nature in a playful, active, and inspiring way as they hike segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

Kids Fight Invasive Species!

Hartland School of Community Learning Hartland Saunters Marsh Clean up 2016

This is what happiness looks like: sunshine, fresh air, muscles put to good use, and the satisfaction of a job well done!
Photo credit: P. Witkowski

The boundless energy of kids.

We all wish we had a bit more of it ourselves.

Perhaps you’ve even wished you could harness it.

What if you could focus all that energy and unleash it like a super power, in service of a better, brighter world?

Well, the visionaries of Village of Hartland and the Hartland School of Community Learning did just that through a collaborative service event on Friday, May 6th to clean up a section of the Hartland Marsh. Continue reading

Alliance Accepting Scholarship Applications

For decades Wisconsin citizens have rallied around the Ice Age Trail, from when the idea of a thousand-mile footpath was freshly born to when the first tread was built. The future of the Trail will rely on future generations to carry on vision. The Ice Age Trail Alliance is making a down-payment on the future with the Doug “Stickman” Sherman scholarship.A photo of Doug "Stickman" Sherman

The scholarship is awarded to a college-bound young adult who has volunteered with the Alliance, in honor of the work of Doug “Stickman” Sherman, a longtime Alliance volunteer who passed away in 2014. Over a number of years, Stickman hand-carved hundreds of hiking sticks for students taking part in Saunters, the Alliance’s school program that brings kids onto the Ice Age Trail.

For weeks on end, students carried Doug’s creations all across Wisconsin – along the shores of the Wisconsin River, on towering bluffs overlooking Devil’s Lake, through the deepest northwoods forests, around the crags of Eau Claire Dells and across vast prairies.

The sticks provided balance, confidence and a helping hand. In essence, Stickman was with young hikers every step of the way as they explored the Ice Age Trail and took on a steady calm that only the solace of nature can provide. We are happy to carry on Mr. Sherman’s positive impact to tomorrow’s Trail supporters through this scholarship.

                                                  How to Apply

photo by Leah Bradley

photo by Leah Bradley

The Doug “Stickman” Sherman Scholarship is a one-time $500 award and is open to young adults who are preparing to go to college. In order to qualify, applicants must have:

• A history of volunteering with the Ice Age Trail Alliance and/or serving as a Saunters mentor
• A love of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and a desire to create, support and protect the Trail for future generations
• Future goals that include a degree in the environmental or education fields or a related field

Interested students should reference the application form [PDF] for complete instructions on how to apply. All submissions must be postmarked by September 30th, 2016.