Inspired by a MOOC, UW-Madison student teaches conservation to kids

woman holding a poster

Last summer, Sarah Krier taught children about conservation at YMCA’s Day Camp Daycroix in Hudson, Wisconsin. She drew inspiration from The Land Ethic Reclaimed: Perceptive Hunting, Aldo Leopold, and Conservation, a Massive Open Online Course offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“We planted trees,” says Krier, a UW-Madison junior majoring in environmental studies and life sciences communication. “We had 6- to 8-year-olds digging holes and getting in the dirt, excited every time they find a worm because they know that’s important now. They’re learning about the integrity, stability, and beauty of the world around them and how that relates to their life.”


Krier’s stint in Hudson was supported by a Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship, a collaboration among UW-Madison’s Morgridge Center for Public Service, Division of Continuing Studies, and Educational Innovation. The fellowship program challenges students to identify needs in Wisconsin communities and to work with community partners and faculty mentors on projects that move toward solutions.

‘I want it to mean something’

The Wisconsin Open Education Community Fellowship helps carry on the Wisconsin Idea: UW-Madison’s mission of using its resources to serve the larger community. Krier was thrilled to be part of this century-long tradition.

“My whole life I’ve always said I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want it to mean something,” she says. “I want it to touch people. When I came to Madison, I heard they put a name to that, and it’s the Wisconsin Idea. That is something I want to embody in everything I do.”

Massive Open Online Courses are noncredit learning experiences that allow people from around the globe to participate. UW-Madison’s 2015 MOOCs focused on themes relevant to Wisconsin, including forest ecosystems and climate change in the Great Lakes region. The Land Ethic Reclaimed explored the connection between hunting and conservation, drawing on the work of Wisconsin environmentalist Aldo Leopold.

To learn more about Sarah Krier’s project and its connection to the MOOC, see the video above.