School’s environmental implementer has earned Presidential Innovator Award; Hawley is one of 12 MPS schools with an aquaponics program
MILWAUKEE – Educators, school leaders and community members will come together Thursday to cut the ribbon on the new aquaponics lab at Milwaukee Public Schools’ Hawley Environmental School.
Aquaponics is a growing field that presents not only potential career options but helps students learn about fish and plant life, photosynthesis and life cycles. In an aquaponics system, fish and plants grow together. The systems convert waste produced by the fish into fertilizer for plants, which in turn filter water that enters the fish habitat. Hawley students and educators have been preparing the new system throughout the summer and early fall.
The ribbon-cutting event is set for Thursday, October 15 at 4:30 p.m. at Hawley, 5610 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee 53213. Media are welcome and invited to attend.
Hawley is one of 12 MPS schools to offer an aquaponics program. The school’s program was designed and built by Imagine Aquaponics, which also provided donations to help facilitate the creation of the lab. The school’s Parent Teacher Organization and Community Learning Center program also contributed funds. Many of MPS’ other aquaponics programs were developed through a grant from AT&T and the NEA Foundation.
“It’s so exciting that we can add such an innovative approach to all the growing and gardening experiences that our students already have here at Hawley,” said teacher Casey McEvilly, who leads the lab and the school’s aquaponics club. “I am so proud to be able to have this for the school and our kids.”
Hawley environmental implementer Lesley Zylstra noted that the lab helps fulfill the school’s vision of preparing students to be environmentally-conscious leaders.
“Having this aquaponics lab to work in and learn from not only helps students understand critical science concepts but also gives our students an advantage in understanding the growing field of sustainable agriculture,” she said.
Zylstra’s work to provide well-rounded environmental education for Hawley students has earned her national recognition. This summer, she received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, an honor given to only two teahers in each of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 10 regions. Zylstra traveled to Washington this summer to be recognized in person by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver congratulates the Hawley community on its new lab and Ms. Zylstra on her national recognition.