What do you get when you combine a full-time UW–Madison student with a part-time park maintenance employee? An all-time advocate for environmental sustainability.
That’s Andrew Strother, who, as a freshman in 2015, earned an inaugural Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship and used it to promote environmental education in Kenosha County’s KD Park, located just outside of his hometown of Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.
“The fellowship challenged undergrad students to create projects that could solve an issue identified in their Wisconsin hometown,” says Strother. “And since the county has a goal for the park to be a sustainable, living education park — but not the money or resources — this was a great step toward making that happen.”
UW–Madison gives students opportunities … It’s allowed me to embody the Wisconsin Idea and give back.
Strother first became aware of KD Park’s emphasis on sustainable living education as a high school student, when he served on Kenosha County’s Green Ribbon Committee, which spearheaded the planning process surrounding the 234-acre former gravel quarry.
So in the summer of 2015, Strother, a UW–Madison political science major, organized an outreach campaign to encourage families, schools, churches, and youth groups to learn about the park and its sustainable mission. By developing a series of workshops, Strother offered hands-on learning experiences for the community to enjoy.
One such workshop involved building bat houses to accommodate the park’s overpopulation of bats. “I projected about 12 participants and had more than 20 show up,” says Strother. “It was great, because along with building the bat houses, we hiked some of the trails to find places to hang them, and also talked about the importance of bats in southeastern Wisconsin.”
Having UW–Madison play a role in helping KD Park realize some of its untapped potential resonated with Strother and gave him a newfound appreciation for his campus.
“UW–Madison gives students opportunities,” he says. “There’s definitely no way I could’ve done what I did without the UW’s support. It’s allowed me to embody the Wisconsin Idea and give back.”