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Former St. Bede's hosts Nature Academy

    By Joe Knight Leader-Telegram staff | Posted: Friday, August 30, 2013 10:00 pm       

The bird feeders at UW-Eau Claire's Children's Nature Academy at The Priory were smashed and the supporting poles were bent.

A youngster looking at the broken feeders speculated that a dinosaur had done the damage, but he soon learned that a bear had raided the feeders. That brought an abrupt end to putting out bird seed, said Shelly Sutley, a nature academy representative.

"We were baiting the bears," she said.

Instead, workers at the nature academy, southwest of Eau Claire at 1190 Priory Road, have been trying to provide food for birds through a more natural process - planting wildflowers to attract insects, which are food for bluebirds and other birds.

UW-River Falls senior Sam Hetzel, an Eau Claire Memorial High School graduate who is studying conservation, spent the summer trying to establish flowers on the property and get it certified as wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

"This area has a lot of potential," Hetzel said Wednesday afternoon as he manned an exhibit titled "Feed the Birds, not the Bears" that explained the wildflower project.

Hetzel's was one of several exhibits at Wednesday's "Bluebird Days" event at the nature academy at which UW-Eau Claire students, Boy Scouts, and the director of the Beaver Creek Reserve discussed nature-related projects at the facility. Among those projects is a bluebird trail lined with houses that also attract wrens and chickadees.

Two years ago Children's Nature Academy replaced the Children's Center, which was at the former Park School at the university. Children of UW-Eau Claire students, UW-Eau Claire staff and others attend the school.

Even before the nature academy opened, school staff considered ways to get the school's attendees outside more often, said Becky Wurzer, the recently retired academy director. The school's surroundings provide the opportunity to do more outside activities involving nature, she said.

Courtenay O'Neil, the school's new director, said she plans to continue its nature-related education.

UW-Eau Claire biology students Melissa Seidel and Alexis Pingel fixed up an aquarium and told school attendees about fish.

"The sharks are a big hit," Siedel said of two small sharks among the fish in the aquarium.

Boy Scout Nathanael Jeanselme, 14, built 10 benches for nature trails near the academy. As he built the benches for his Eagle Scout project, Jeanselme researched Aldo Leopold, for whom the benches are named "Leopold benches." As he discussed his project, Jeanselme quoted the famous naturalist.

"Teach the child to see the land," he said, "to understand what he sees and enjoy what he understands."

Knight can be reached at 715-830-5835, 800-236-7077 or

n Two years ago Children's Nature Academy at The Priory, the former St. Bede's Monastery, replaced the Children's Center, which was at the former Park School at the university.

Jill Seichter

Music soothes the soul 

UW-Eau Claire student Jill Seichter earned a fellowship for her project focusing on music therapy using iPods on dementia patients. UW-Eau Claire senior Jill Seichter of Menomonie, a social work major, received the $1,250 Ryan Prechel Community Service Fellowship from the university for her work providing music therapy for people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Five Dove Healthcare-West residents have iPods as part of a music therapy program designed to improve their quality of life. The scholarship was established by Nancy and David Prechel in recognition of their son's exceptional career as a student leader at UW-Eau Claire.  Read more.


UW-Eau Claire art students give McIntyre Library reference desk a facelift

View this article from the News Bureau to see how this group of art students received their Service Learning Credit!


DJ for the Strutt Your Mutt Event!

This event is happening Saturday, October 20, 9 AM-2 PM at Woodland Park in Strum. They are looking for an enthusiastic, energetic DJ to announce winners, events, directions, etc., and also keep the music playing! :) 

Sound like something for you??
Contact Mandi at (715) 695-2623 or Also, check out the event's flier for more information! - EVENT FLIER...

Looking for a service-learning project? Check out these slides for inspiration!
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Sojourner House - Shelter Coalition Project
When Don Mowry, Professor of the Global Poverty course offered here at UWEC, asked his students to choose a project they would be working on for the semester, Julie, Shauna, and Alyssa never expected it to turn into something so impactful; they never expected to be part of the team that created Sojourner House, the new homeless shelter in Eau Claire.  Read more...

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity Service Trip
For the past two years, Circle K, a service organization on campus, has been making a difference in the lives of many by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is a strong advocate for the idea that everyone should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live, and that humanity is needed to help eliminate poverty by providing simple, decent shelter to those in need. The Circle K Club found out about this shelter providing opportunity online. They learned that Habitat for Humanity does a collegiate challenge, where they invite students to come help build houses for a week over spring break and/or winterim. Read More....


UW-Eau Claire business organization members embrace local service projects -
When kids trekked from house to house dressed in costumes in pursuit of candy on Halloween, UW-Eau Claire Beta Upsilon Sigma members joined them in pursuit of something just as sweet: community serviceRead More...

Building Bridges

Building Bridges for Hmong Youth
In 1994, a group of UW-Eau Claire students, in collaboration with the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, Inc. (ECAHMAA), started a program known as Building Bridges.  This program offers Hmong youth the opportunity of meeting and working with a mentor—typically a university student—on their school work.  It also offers Hmong youth the opportunity to interact with someone outside their culture, so they can get used to living in a dual culture society.  But the program doesn't run itself; it is run by two student interns, one of them being One Yang. Read More...

Service-Learning Logo

Students mentor area youth through hockey training sessions -
UW-Eau Claire student volunteers are helping area youth hockey players become more physically fit and more knowledgeable about how their off-ice fitness routines can enhance their on-ice performance. The university students are leading weekly dryland (off-the-ice) training sessions for youth hockey travel teams. Read More...


Library Learning Garden: "If you're going to do something, do it right.  Don't just do something to get it done, do it the right way."  This is just one of the things Mike and Alex Somers learned while fulfilling their service-learning hours.  Last summer, Mike and Alex, brothers attending UW-Eau Claire and both majoring in microbiology, were home on break working at the Beaver Dam Community Library.  The library's Director, Sue Mevis, asked the brothers if they could take on a small gardening project, which they agreed to. But, before they knew it, the project turned into something much bigger than they expected! Read more....


Accounting students to provide free income tax assistance

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire accounting students will provide free income tax assistance through April 13 to those who cannot afford to pay for professional help.The assistance is provided through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, a special program of the Internal Revenue Service and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. VITA provides income tax assistance to those with adjusted incomes under $49,000.Read More...

Tech savvy students teach seniors about their cell phones

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Australia Study Abroad

 Students & Faculty Engage in Service Around the World


EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire sends more students abroad for mid-length study abroad experiences than any other master's-level university in Wisconsin, according to the2010 Open Doors Report of the Institute for International Education. Read more...

Collaboration with high school theater department results in unique learning experiences

Theater students from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have been helping actors from North High School prepare for the Wisconsin High School Forensic Association theater competition. Students from North are in the second round of competition and have an opportunity to advance to the state level.

The collaboration coincided with the performance of "Anatomy of Gray," staged last month at UW-Eau Claire under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Chapman, assistant professor of theatre arts at UW-Eau Claire. North High School teacher Lucas Risinger's students are performing the same work for the WHSFA. Read more...

Elsa Kraus

Student recognized for research on diversity issues

EAU CLAIRE — A student from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire received an honorable mention award for her research presentation at the Wisconsin College Personnel Association Conference Oct. 21-22 in Wisconsin Dells.

Elsa Kraus' presentation, titled "Responding to the Challenge of Social Justice through Immersion Experiences," which was co-presented with her faculty mentor, Jodi Thesing-Ritter, associate dean of students at UW-Eau Claire, covered the preliminary design of the research. Read More...