The Bayside Middle School Natural Area Committee was formed to assist the District in the ongoing development and care of an exemplary learning environment of plants on the school grounds at Bayside Middle School. The vision of the Bayside Middle School Natural Area Committee is to incorporate areas of natural prairie and woodland with a rich diversity of indigenous species of grasses, wild-flowers, shrubs and trees reflecting the district’s original environmental beauty and ecological balance. The overall vision includes the development of outdoor ‘classrooms’ of natural beauty and scientific sophistication and classrooms accessible year-round to thousands of students, teachers, residents, and friends which are relatively self-sustaining, reflecting pride, respect and a dedication to environmental education. This outdoor environment at Bayside Middle School will allow teaching staff the opportunity to incorporate hands-on, curricular related learning experiences for students. Currently the Natural Area is used mainly by the Bayside Middle School science teachers but plans for classroom seating on the south end of the Natural Area is planned for the fall of 2006.
The Bayside Middle School Natural Area Committee includes parents, community members, teaching staff members and administration who meet throughout the school year to plan for and further develop the outdoor education environment at Bayside Middle School. The Committee welcomes anyone from the Fox Point-Bayside Community to join in the work of the Committee. You can be part of this important work by contacting Dr. Mark Chelmowski, Committee Chair, at 228-1345 or by contacting Mr. Don Galster, Bayside Middle School Principal, at 247-4200.
On Earth Day in 1974, under the direction of the Audobon Center and the support of Bayside’s principal, Bill Roots, Lorrie Otto, a Bayside resident and naturally recognized naturalist, and fifty Bayside Children planted a meadow on the east side of the school next to their classrooms. Eighteen years later, in 1992, thousands of dollars worth of trees and wildflowers were donated to create additional prairie and woodland areas. In the past thirty plus years many hundreds of volunteer hours have been contributed to improve and maintain outdoor classrooms.
The beauty and value of this area has been recognized locally, becoming a stop on the Audubon Center’s bus tours, and on Milwaukee Walks’ tours. This area was recognized regionally during the 1990’s and became a model for many of the 470 southeastern Wisconsin schools which subsequently established natural areas. Busloads of teachers from Wisconsin and surrounding states have visited this site. The original site was the subject of a teaching video for the Audubon, and was highlighted on public television’s “Outdoor Wisconsin.”
When a remodeling, new addition project at Bayside Middle was undertaken in 1999, the natural area site was moved to it’s currently location on the south end of the school grounds. Mr. Bob Hartig, Bayside Middle School’s Technology Teacher and Ms. Julie Trump, Bayside Middle School’s Art Teacher collaborated on the design and construction of the sign that prominently identifies the Bayside Middle School Natural Area. Benches, native trees and a sculpture were added to the area as part of a memorial to the Goldman family members that died in a home fire. During the past few years the site has been further developed with a handicap accessible pathway being installed and an outdoor seating area/classroom area developed.