UW Arboretum Earth Partnership

UW Arboretum Earth Partnership

UW Arboretum Earth Partnership and collaborators in each of the following cities: Madison, WI - Centro Hispano, Catholic Multicultural Center; Milwaukee, WI - Urban Ecology Center, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Escuela Verde; Palm Beach, FL – Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Project Description: 

Latino Earth Partnership is an initiative of the UW Arboretum Earth Partnership program that promotes collaboration between educators and Latino communities by engaging youth and families in culturally based ecological restoration. Environmental stewardship is integrated with culturally authentic resources, Spanish-language curriculum, and citizen science process skills like data collection, analysis, habitat restoration, and water stewardship. This initiative fosters understanding, sensitivity, skills, and participation in resolving environmental challenges.


Enhance teacher instructional content and improve student learning about habitat restoration and water stewardship in schools with high percentages of Latino students through sustained collaboration with community resources.


Latino Earth Partnership (LEP) offers educators, community partners, and natural-resource managers multilingual 40-hour professional development institutes focused on schoolyard habitat restorations and stewardship that bridge ecology and culture. These are followed by site visits, quarterly lead teacher meetings, and webinars to support project implementation. LEP has incorporated Connect tools into its institutes to emphasize links between ecological restoration and climate resilient communities.

Tools in Action: 

Make Your Own More or Less Tool

During Latino Earth Partnership institutes, teachers spend the early part of the week learning about watersheds and ecosystems and exploring examples of each. They then experience several Earth Partnership activities for schoolyard studies of plants, animals, soils, and other components of their surroundings, and discover how to plan and implement a student-led native plant restoration. The More or Less tool is used at the end of the week to highlight how schoolyard restorations enhance the local community through esthetic beauty, reduced stormwater runoff, increased biodiversity, and other improvements. Participants are encouraged to think holistically with their students about the benefits of native plantings. This tool can be completed in 30 minutes (though more time for extended discussion is recommended) and is an excellent way to encourage higher-order thinking.

More or Less game
Using More or Less

Migration Stories

One culturally based restoration effort used by Latino Earth Partnership educators in Madison and Milwaukee emphasizes the monarch butterfly. Through a series of activities that includes the Migration Stories tool, educators draw connections between the monarch’s migration and human immigration stories, allowing learners to draw on their families’ experiences to understand, address, and teach others about the challenges facing this amazing insect. Planting monarch-friendly habitat at a school or community center and reporting citizen science data culminates the inclusive learning process. Students find strength in cultural heritage and are motivated to be environmental stewards. Latino Earth Partnership adapted Migration Stories for use in summer professional development institutes by incorporating a migration-themed poem written in Spanish and English by area poet and teacher Moisés Villavicencio. Through this tool, participants write their own migration story poem. This activity facilitated personal connections among participants as they listened to each other’s stories.

Organizations and People Involved: 
  • Earth Partnership: Cheryl Bauer-Armstrong, María Moreno, Stephen Laubach, Claire Shaller Bjork, Astrid De la Cruz
  • Urban Ecology Center: Lainet García-Rivera, Glenna Holstein, Beth Heller, Kim Forbeck
  • Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers: Iris Gonzalez (no longer at SSCHC), Nadia Bogue, Kevin Engstrom, Ben Gramling
  • Escuela Verde: Joey Zocher, Cynthia Gonzalez
  • Centro Hispano: Karen Menendez Coller, Mariela Quesada, Lauren Deakman
  • Catholic Multicultural Center: Laura Green, Antonio Quintanilla
  • Pine Jog Environmental Education Center: Ray Coleman, Anne Henderson, Luisa Gomez, Kristi Moyer, Carmen Rodriguez
  • Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge: Joseph Whelan, Ana Ruíz
  • Lead Educators: Radames Galarza, Moisés Villavicencio