Program : Environmental Education
Environmental education happens every day on our unique campus of gently sloping land, beautiful trees, and rare wetland
ecosystems. The change of seasons, framed by the magnificence of the campus environment, teaches the cycle of life in nature
as no textbook can. Students are encouraged to notice, to question, see connections, and come up with their own solution-oriented ideas.
Environmental Education at our school is devoted to creating magical learning experiences by developing a personal relationship
with the environment. This relationship is nurtured through first hand contact with the outdoors along with classroom work and projects
to help students internalize what they are learning and to make connections between the environment and the arts and sciences.
Natural Heritage Landmark [top]
Fox River Country Day School’s fifty-three acre wooded campus includes twenty-three acres of hiking trails that the State of Illinois
designated as a Natural Heritage Landmark in 1989, as well as one of the state’s last remaining white cedar forests and other endangered
plant and animal life. This setting forms the backdrop for the school’s Environmental Education Program.
Full-time naturalist [top]
The school has a full-time naturalist and an assistant who meet with students in Preschool through Grade 8 on a regular basis, in addition
to their regular science curriculum. The amount of time spent in environmental education increases in complexity and frequency as
students move through the grade levels. At any time in the school year, students can be found hiking, studying rocks, bird
watching, looking for animal tracks in the snow, monitoring a stream, observing wildlife, or carrying out multiple tasks to
improve the campus environment. Echoing the program’s philosophy of appreciation, understanding, and action, the Lower School
curriculum focuses primarily on discovering and learning, while Middle School students tackle the task of putting their knowledge
and understanding into action. At all levels interaction with the environment provides ample opportunity to put into practice such
Character Building Qualities as respect, resourcefulness, and good judgment.
Becoming global citizens [top]
The goal of the Environmental Education Program is to build each student’s appreciation, understanding, and sense of leadership as stewards
of the natural environment by “acting locally and thinking globally”. We are committed to preserving the 25-acre Natural Heritage
Landmark on the property. This testament to the school’s historical emphasis on environmental ethics provides students with a
living laboratory for understanding their local environment, interacting first-hand with their topic of study, implementing stewardship
practices, and reflecting on the surrounding tranquil springs, steams, wildlife, and natural rarities. We believe that global citizens
understand the long-term benefits of their education while experiencing an immediate sense of accomplishment for their actions, whether
large or small.
Ongoing and past projects [top]
Students have been participating in a full, year-long cycle of restoration on our campus. We began with cutting invasive species, such as
buckthorn. Students were involved in collecting native seeds with our partners, Citizens for Conservation, at the Grigsby Prairie, in
Barrington. These seeds were then used at other prairie restoration sites as well as at our school. We will see evidence of this work
in the spring, as our oak savannah gradually comes back to life in all its glory.
During the Spring and Fall we have controlled burns, which cleanse the forest floor to improve the health and diversity of our native plants. In earlier
days this took place more naturally via lightning and Native American practices. Nowadays we need to help nature maintain this important cycle.
We have received a grant from the Fox Valley Land Foundation, to help restore the Forested Fen on campus over the next two years.
Eighth graders created a Barn Owl house that was mounted up on the silo, providing this endangered species with a home. The new prairie
patch the students have helped establish will provide this species with its native habitat and, we hope, encourage them to stay.
The expanded recycling program at school, run in part by our students, has cut our trash nearly in half. We are all developing better
Students in Grade 5 participated in a state-wide poster contest, the theme of which was water conservation. One student recived special
regognition for her entry.