Nature Center work to begin soon
The expansion of “Jean TeWinkel’s nature center” has been the focus of a year-long planning and fundraising effort that is nearing fruition as the school's 50th anniversary year comes to a close. With the potential to enrich student learning for years to come, the nature center is rich with connections to the school’s past.
Jean TeWinkel was a memorable and well-loved teacher for Calvin Christian 2nd and 3rd graders from 1973 to 1998. She died in 2004 at the age of 69. Toward the end of her tenure at Calvin, Mrs. TeWinkel guided her students in creating a pond and wildflower garden for birds and butterflies. After retiring, she continued to visit the nature center and engage the third graders in it as long as her health permitted.
Over the last couple of years Julie Amen, CCS-Edina Challenge Program Coordinator, has led an effort to expand and revitalize the nature center. Mrs. Amen and a parent committee have shaped ideas from students and teachers into a vision for a dynamic outdoor learning space. When finished, the nature center will feature a pond habitat, native prairie garden, outdoor classroom, raised planting beds, “toad abode,” reading nook, and the Jean TeWinkel Memorial Bird Garden, all enclosed by a decorative security fence.
The nature center is envisioned as a place for active, hands-on learning across the curriculum for students of all ages, interests, and learning styles. Amen also is excited about the project’s potential for collaboration and community-building. She points to the shared planning and preparatory work already done and looks forward to seeing middle school students working with kindergarteners, parents alongside children, as the nature center is developed and used.
“Our vision is big, and so is the need,” said Mrs. Amen. “We need both financial and human resources to make this vision a reality.”
The project got a major boost in May with a $5,800 grant from the Minnesota Independent School Forum (MISF). Additional funding for the $10,000-$12,000 project has come from the Jean TeWinkel Memorial Fund, a "Nickels for Nature" student campaign, a flower sale, proceeds from a nature camp, and a gift from the Edina Parent-Teacher Fellowwship.
Work on the nature center will begin late summer or early fall 2012 with the installation of a decorative security fence. The scope of the subsequent work will depend on the resources available: cash contributions, donated materials, and volunteer time and expertise.