Jeffers Foundation

LETTER TO ADMINISTRATORS

Letter To Administrators

From Superintendent Dr. Thomas Westerhaus

Dear Colleagues,

Dr. Tom Westerhaus
Dr. Tom Westerhaus

Some years ago, as Superintendent of the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District, I had the pleasure of meeting several board members from the recently formed Jeffers Foundation as we strategized over potential partnerships amongst the Foundation, the cities of Prior Lake and Savage, and my school district. Little did I know at the time that the introductions would lead me to become totally immersed in the world of environmental education for the rest of my life with some of the most professional and dedicated preservationists alive today.

In its relatively short existence, Jeffers Foundation has accomplished some amazing feats that directly impacted my schools and communities. It has placed naturalists and an environmental education coordinator in the PL-S schools; supported school environmental festivals; built curriculum around the premise that environmental education is both a content area to be taught as well as a process to be used in teaching math, reading, and other curricular areas; trained hundreds of teachers in the use of the outdoor classroom; developed high quality materials and resources for instruction for environmental education and STEM; promoted a food waste reduction/recycling program; built a program in the PL-S schools that placed pre-service teacher candidates from St. Catherine's University into elementary classrooms for environmental education; and collaborated to build a "LEEDS Gold" Environmental Learning Center at McColl Park in the City of Savage. As if this wasn't enough, when I left Prior Lake-Savage to take a job as Superintendent for the School District of River Falls, Wisconsin, the Foundation in the person of Paul Oberg took it upon himself to help the River Falls schools gain access to a School Forest it owned but could not utilize.

The tangible benefits for students and staff using the activities and personnel provided by Jeffers Foundation have been consistently vital for changing practices in preserving and enriching the earth and its resources. Pond management, water preservation, and recycling activities come to mind as successes built on the principles of Jeffers Foundation. Less obvious to the casual observer but equally vital have been partnerships spawned by the Foundation with city mayors and administrators, the watershed district, DNR personnel, park and recreational affiliations, and institutions of higher learning. These initiatives carry on in multiple directions and serve to create a mindset that no one institution has to go it alone in preserving and protecting our environment or in training the next generation to be good stewards of Mother Earth.

I am very proud of the work of the Jeffers Foundation and the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools in teaming in this important endeavor. I encourage all my colleagues to consider the principles of environmental education and to utilize Jeffers Foundation in going forward to initiate and/or strengthen programs in your district, as well.

Best wishes,
Dr. Tom Westerhaus, Superintendent of Schools

JEFFERS NEWS

Jeffers recently introduced A Garden 4 Every School a new set of web pages aimed at highlighting what schools around the state are doing to have school gardens. We produced a set of videos to tell the story and have included support references as well.

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