Nature Program for Disciples of Christ Homeschool

Students on a hike through the Schoofs Preserve

Laudato Si’ Project held a nature program for the Disciples of Christ Homeschool students and some LSP member families. The nature program’s focus was “Creatures of the Night.” They learned about adaptations of flying squirrels, owls, bats, raccoons and more.

They were several activities and games simulating these adaptations including a bats sense of smell and the tactile ability of raccoons.

They also were able to touch furs and skulls of animals that often call the night their home.

They then visited the resident chickens and even go to catch and hold them. Here is a short video of their experience

Lastly, we took a hike on the neighboring 51 acre Schoofs Preserve, owned by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.  See a short video here:

If you are interested in having Laudato Si’ Project teach a nature program or lead an educational hike for your group- Contact Us

Laudato Si: A Connection with the Land, A Connection with Parenting

Reflection by Patti Scanlon: Parishioner of St. John Vianney, WI 

“It is the beauty that thrills me with wonder, it is the stillness that fills me with peace.” – Robert Service, poet

They’d complain about chores in the garden, like kids are inclined to do; pulling weeds, picking up sticks, cutting the grass. But when they got caught up in the feel of the dirt and smell of the day, it was hours before they returned indoors.

This is one of the many passages that caught my attention in Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.

 “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soul, water, mountains:  everything is, as it were, a caress of God. The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places, which take on intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good. Anyone who grew up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighborhood square; going back to these places ins a chance to recover something of their true selves.”     –Pope Francis.  Laudato Si’ paragraph 84

On a February day, we build snowmen and play for hours until only a snug blanket could warm us. On a March day, we tap a maple tree, observe sap boiling, and enjoy the syrup with pancakes and sausage. In June, we plant wildflower seeds in our yard, eagerly awaiting their growth and late summer bloom. In July, we pick fresh strawberries and eat them in the middle of the field. In August, we run through the sand, watch the fish in the lake, listen for the bullfrogs, just soaking in the day and embracing how the land loves us back. In November, the geese – our winter friends – return to the lake under the setting sky, aflame with hues of pink, purple, and grey.


The gifts, the lessons, the wonder and the awe our mother Earth provides for us. A commitment to the land, and a commitment to parenting. What it means to care, to love, and be stewards of God’s creation.

I showed them that I loved them by helping to foster their own sense of wonder and awe; an adventurous spirit, a desire to explore nature and new frontiers, to thank God for the gift of Creation and to care for nature and all of God’s creatures and children.

I saw this over and over in the very way they mindfully cared for woolly caterpillars crossing the sidewalk, the manner in which they lifted and cared for small turtles, frogs, and toads, carrying them to safety with the gentleness and tenderness of a parent.  Nurturing God’s creation teaches children the value and dignity of the smallest bug, a precursor to caring for themselves, for the dignity of all humans, and coming to know a real sense of social justice, the humble beginnings of service.

For it is when they are small children that these values are best taught, and it begins by learning and growing as responsible stewards of God’s creation.

“For how many years did I wander slowly through the forest.  What wonder and glory I would have missed had I been in a hurry!” – Mary Oliver

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

Laudato Si’ Project spent Saturday’s International Migratory Bird Day doing land stewardship at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside, WI. This 180 acre property was once the pasturing grounds for the Schlitz Brewery draft horses. Much restoration work has been done on the land since then and our volunteers were happy to help.

Students from MUHS and Nicolet High School were given beautiful weather to complete our task of removing invasive garlic mustard and dames rocket from various woodland sections. Both these plant species were used in home landscaping and escaped cultivation. They compete very heavily with our native plants and do not provide a good food source for our herbivores. When removing these species, it is important to remove the whole root system to prevent them from growing back. We also hung them in trees to avoid re-sprouting.

Of course, anytime you are out in the woods you are blessed with finding unanticipated treasures. For us, we were able to stumble upon a Blanding’s Turtle which is “of Special Concern” in WI. We also saw numerous spring ephemeral wild flowers and a wild turkey hen sitting on her nest. This area of Lake Michigan coast line is characterized by beautiful woodland with deep gorges. We toured the property to learn a little more about its ecology and finished by skipping rocks on Lake Michigan.

International Migratory Bird Day


This Saturday (and much of the month of May) celebrates our migratory birds. International Migratory Bird Day, IMBD, is an effort to bring awareness to our birds and help keep our common birds common. Mother’s Day weekend in the midwest is the peak of spring migration and gives us our first glimpses of birds that have spent the last 8 months in the neo-tropics. Many birders enjoy this time because they see their first of the year baltimore oriole on their jelly feeder, rose breasted grosbeak at their seed feeder, and bluebirds building their nest in the nest box. In fact, Laudato Si’ Project has been checking the nest boxes we have installed at various sites and we already have hatched bluebird and tree swallow eggs!

These bird migrants make incredible journeys up and down the continents every year and face tremendous challenges. Take our ruby-throated hummingbird for example. On its southbound journey in the fall it makes a straight, non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico- 500 miles!! Our birds migrate using major “flyways” which include following coasts, mountain ranges, and rivers. In WI, we are blest with the Mississippi Flyway and in southeast WI, birds love to follow Lake Michigan North.

The focus of this years IMBD is “Helping Birds Along the Way.” All of us can do this on our properties to help. Of course, many of us feed birds which is a great way to supplement their diet in this energy demanding time. A more longterm approach would be ensuring you keep some area of your property natural for the birds. This might include prairie or woodland. These sites, no matter how small, create critical food and nesting sites for birds.

Another way to help birds is through your purchase choices. Let’s focus on a tropically grown commodity-Coffee. Coffee is our largest food import and second only to oil for any import. This means, what is happening down in Costa Rica, Belize, Columbia, or Brazil is really important to our nesting birds that spend 3/4 of the year there.  One way to ensure that your coffee consumption isn’t stripping our birds of wintering grounds (pun intended) is to purchase “shade-grown” coffee. Shade grown coffee utilizes a canopy of trees within the coffee plantation allowing birds and other wildlife to be supported. See photos below depicting a shade-grown plantation vs a traditional mono-culture plantation. You can also look for Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certifications to support sustainable agriculture.


You can shop for sustainable coffee online but almost all grocery stores carry some sort of sustainable option. Pick n’ Save carries Cafe’ Fair brand which is shade-grown,  organic, and fair trade. I call it the tri-fector of sustainability, taking into account the health of both the environment and humanity.

There is no better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a little birding. Lots of events are taking place all over the state and you can see some on our Events Page. So this month, look up into the trees. Enjoy these winged treasures. There is a lot of beauty to be found in our natural world but we need to stop, listen, and look.

All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. Daniel 3:80

Laudato Si’ Project in the National Catholic Reporter

National Catholic Reporter_17

Check out this issue of the National Catholic Reporter. It highlights our stewardship work with Cristo Rey High School as part of the worldwide Mercy2Earth activities that took place around Earth Day. The article speaks of events ranging from stewardship work days like ours to prayer services or nature walks. Over 800 actions took place in 31 countries around the world and were registered on the Global Catholic Climate Movement website. The article also speaks of the 2016 creation of Care for Our Common Home as the 8th spiritual and corporal work of mercy.