The mission of Silverwood Park includes K-12 agricultural education. The beauty of summer school classes at Silverwood is the opportunity to dig into the soil and learn from the experience. However, the 21st century learner also benefits from access to research and presentation technology, thus Friends of Silverwood Park (FoSP) applied for and received a $1600 grant from the Edgerton Community Fund.
The grant was used to purchase presentation equipment, including a TV screen, laptop, router, and WiFi access, allowing activities at the park to be connected to Internet technology. The Silverwood Park/Edgerton School District summer school day camp benefited heavily from this equipment.
During the 2021 day camp, forty students, grades kindergarten through ninth grade, were enrolled. Having access to Internet data made it possible for students to research topics such as benefits of cover crops as well as topics for their field day presentations.
Nolan Scheife presents his information on the importance of composting. Other topics included: agricultural careers, companion planting, weed suppression, pollinators, soil health, and bug/pest management. Luke Vike, teacher noted that “the presentation and research equipment allowed for our campers to share what they’ve learned and their discoveries to their parents at year’s end.”
Research and presentations were enhanced by the Edgerton School District lending Chromebooks for student use during the day camp. “Having the WiFi and presentation equipment allowed for an excellent summer school class and experience to be even better, suggested Luke Vike, summer school teacher. “This added technology allowed for our campers to be productive in discoveries on days where weather wasn’t conducive for exploring the park or working in the gardens.”
Ava Ferrell shared personal images of her plants, including a unique way of staking her tomatoes, in a Google Slide presentation. This image shows Ava working with Volunteer Master Gardener, Ruth Flescher.
Barb Gausman, one of the teachers at the day camp, noted about the technology, “Students were able to view satellite images of Rice Lake water clarity, after completing a water clarity test the previous week in the waters of Rice Lake. Without this technology, discussion of the satellite images would have just been that, a discussion. Internet access allowed students to find and view those images, which is much more impactful”. Here Ron Anderson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources volunteer, points out the location of area lakes and their clarity.
Younger students were able to watch Generation Genius videos and clips of garden related picture books being read online. Teachers were able to show images of harmful and helpful bugs to students through the presentation equipment.
Guest presenters were able to project images and video clips on the topics of beekeeping, pollinators, and water quality. Tracy Prill, seen here introducing students to the topic of bees, commented that “using the new equipment was much easier than previous years then I brought pictures to pass around. The new equipment made the presentation of the information more accessible for all.”
Katie Whitten, summer school coordinator stated, “The presentation equipment provided by the Edgerton Community Fund was a phenomenal addition to Silverwood summer school. Presenters utilized the big screen to teach their expertise. Students were able to research and present a Google slide show on sustainable agriculture practices to the summer school classes and to the public at Silverwood Summer School Field Day. The equipment and Internet access is priceless!”
For more information on the summer school day camp check out the Friends of Silverwood Park website for details in text and photos.
In addition to the summer school, other programs at Silverwood Park have benefitted from having presentation equipment and access to the Internet at the park. Speakers at the Regenerative Agricultural Field Day could access their website and show video clips. The same will be true for the Harvest Festival, a speaker on preparing your yard for wintering birds will have presentation equipment available to enhance her presentation.
This technology and access to the Internet has enhanced Friends of Silverwood Park board and planning meetings, as well, plus it saves on paper. Documents can be projected, rather than providing each participant with a paper copy for review.
Presentation equipment also makes use of the Stonehouse Visitors’ Center more feasible for community groups for business and educational meetings. For information on use or rental of the Stonehouse, check out the website.
Established in 2001, the Edgerton Community Fund, overseen by Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, is a permanent financial resource for the Edgerton community and a means for Edgerton supporters to match their philanthropy to community needs. Each year a portion of the Fund’s earnings are given back to the community in the form of grants. The Fund is advised by volunteer board members who take responsibility for fundraising and grant distribution.
Once per year the advisory board awards grants to non-profit organizations, the local school district, and/or local government agencies providing charitable programs or projects serving the good of the community. Grants are presented in November.