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Forever Young, Forever Learning

Generations of Badgers converged on campus to reconnect with the UW and each other during Grandparents University.

Wendy Krause Hathaway '04
August 10, 2012
Grandparents University 2012 - 1,204 participants from 32 states and 3 countries (Australia, Israel and Slovak Republic) ... Average Grandchild Age: 10 1/4 years old

This July, grandparents and grandchildren from across the United States — and the world! — spent two days on the UW-Madison campus for the 12th annual Grandparents University® (GPU).

Here, we get out our magnifying glasses and take a closer look at one of this year’s new majors. These 18 learners headed out of downtown Madison and into the UW Arboretum during the third session of GPU to explore, have fun ... and get their hands a little dirty.

Grandparents University 2012: Wildlife Ecology
On a seed hunt in the garden, first-year GPU attendees Noah Brown, 12, and his grandmother, Elizabeth Haag ’59, discover weevils living in these Wild White Indigo pods. The summer’s dry weather has left many plants at risk, though, so students are instructed not to keep the seeds, but instead put them back where they belong.

UW Arboretum Fun Fact

Curtis Prairie is the oldest restored prairie in the world, and its 60 acres boast big bluestem grass and Indian grass that can reach 7 to 8 feet tall.

Grandparents University 2012: Wildlife Ecology
Budding naturalist Aiden Nellis, 9, came prepared with his own journal and writing supplies. His grandmother, Sharon, a veteran learner with nine years of GPU experience under her belt, says the program is a great one-on-one bonding experience, and it exposes kids to the fun of learning.

UW Arboretum Fun Fact

The Arboretum — with a little help from famed naturalist Aldo Leopold — was the site of some of the earliest research into prairie fires. Researchers used wet burlap sacks tied to sticks to put the fires out.

Grandparents University 2012: Wildlife Ecology
Nine-year-old Kirsten Mayland and her grandfather, Kennedy Gilchrist MS’98, are two of a kind when it comes to their love of the outdoors — she loves to hike and camp; he is a strong supporter of Madison-area non-profit Friends of the Lakeshore Preserve. But since Kirsten lives in Pennsylvania, she says her favorite part of GPU isn’t being in nature … it’s learning and spending time with her grandpa.

UW Arboretum Fun Fact

In the 1920s, much of the Arboretum was slated to become a housing development, but the environment proved inhospitable, and all that remains today are housing foundations, walls and pathways.

Grandparents University 2012: Wildlife Ecology
Kathy Dodd Miner ’76, MA’04, seen here with GPU learners Thomas Jackson ’63, MD’67 and grandson Reece Beekman, 10, is a naturalist at the UW Arboretum. She says she’s been an outdoor enthusiast since she was a child, and she hopes that her Restoration Ecology students take with them a new love of the outdoors: “You can find some pretty amazing things in nature if you just look hard enough!”

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