June, 2003

By Sharon Edwards

Despite all the rescheduling required to accommodate snow days, various unexpected assemblies, and proficiency testing this year, EMU was able to provide 480 classroom programs to approximately 3,150 students in Butler and Preble Counties. I worked with 143 classes in twelve schools in seven districts. Pre-kindergartners to adults also participated in several special events I attended, including Butler County’s Water Fest and Preble County’s Earth Day. The EMU mobiles logged 3,300 miles, with a well-cared-for ‘88 Toyota station wagon replacing the valiant ‘89 Omni, which succumbed to rust.

Students’ excitement in learning about nature remains high. A recent national poll revealed that a majority of elementary students recognizes that our environment is in trouble and that they want to help. Students I worked with also are eager to learn and to help. They greet outdoor projects with exuberance, relishing the opportunities to meet nature head and hands on. Many planted trees and flowers in their nature areas and/or took home a plant to care for and to provide habitat for animals.

Thanks to generous donors and teachers’ interest and expertise, we are getting more students outside, for instance by developing Land Lab programs for Kramer first, second, and third graders to help them practice reading, science, and math proficiencies. As teachers’ curricula needs change, we create new programs that let students learn about animals, which they naturally have an affinity for, and provide problem-solving challenges that let them have fun learning. While students’ enthusiasm remains high, transportation, insurance, and supply costs are increasing. This summer we are expanding our search for grants to supplement local funding, but as always we depend upon local generosity to serve local needs.

EMU’s board continues to provide generously their time and energy to keep EMU running. Jim Hershberger, Miami University professor of chemistry, has taken the helm. Beverly Thomas, of Miami’s Financial Affairs Office, is managing the paper flow that keeps EMU a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Janet Breeden, a retired Marshall kindergarten teacher, has graciously undertaken the secretarial duties. Judy Meicenheimer, Kramer third grade teacher, and Diane Zipko, a parent among numerous other callings, bring insight and energy to the cause.

It has been a challenging year but well worthwhile as I think back on all the “AH-HAH” moments as kids clicked onto new ideas and understandings. Many thanks to all who have helped.


  • Whales -- Kindergarten
  • Animals in Winter -- First Grade
  • Polar Bears -- Second Grade
  • Geology: Rock On -- Third Grade
  • Twig Keying -- Fifth Grade
  • Oil & Water -- Sixth Grade

The Naturalist’s Mailbox

Thank you for helping us plant the trees. It was fun! I love mother nature! --Aubrey, 2nd grade

Thank you for taking me to saturn. I had fun now I relly know something about the Solar System. --Chad, 4th grade

You made us learn a lot about soil. Thank you for taching us about critters. I hope you come back and teach us more. If we find any Earthwerms will put them in soil. If we cut down trees will plant more. We won’t try to ride bikes through mud so the wind won’t take it. Will try not to kill Earthwerms. --Mrs Johnson’s 2nd grade class


Contact EMU early this fall to schedule a recycling program for your class, made possible by a grant from the Butler County Solid Waste District.


EMU lost one of its biggest supporters this year with the death of Wallace I. Edwards. Despite his misgivings about the economic feasibility of starting a non-profit organization, he helped with all the paperwork for EMU to come into existence. He proofread grant applications, ran EMU errands so I could do more programs, put up with EMU’s collections of rocks, bones, soil samples, puppets and various equipment for years underfoot in his house, and maintained the EMU mobile. His and my mother’s generosity and open refrigerator policy have enabled me to live on naturalist wages. My father wasn’t a cheerleading kind of supporter; in fact he was more of a reality-check, asking odd questions such as “Exactly WHY are we carrying these tree trunks into the nature area?” And while he did not see the same urgency as I did for making seating circles, lugging a ladder through the woods to mark trees at heights of various dinosaurs, or juggling drills and hammers 15 feet high to place bat and owl boxes, he always helped. He made trails and planted trees at the local nature areas, worked at nearly every Honeysuckle Day, and week after week of these last summers of drought he hauled tons of water, gallon by gallon, to save the kids’ tree seedlings, despite saying each week that would be the last time he’d help. Most importantly, he believed in the value of helping children connect with nature in order to develop as caring, responsible, and environmentally knowledgeable adults.

Thank you to all who contributed in Wally’s memory.


Keith Wilkey, C.K. Williamson, Tom & Holly Wissing, Sandy Woy-Hazleton, Diane & Dave Zipko, Edwin & Kimie Yamauchi, Steve Moore & Holly Wilson

Olivia Bentley and other students made a dozen birdhouses for cavity nesters such as bluebirds. Thanks to Audubon Miami Valley, Debra Bowles, and Shirley Hill for providing these learning opportunities.


EMU has received a grant from the American Chemical Society for supplies for water, air, and soil testing programs. Your matching gift will enable students to learn some basic (and acidic!) chemistry. If you’d like a program for your 4th, 5th, or 6th grade class, please contact EMU!

Environmental Mobile Unit | P. O. Box 701 | Oxford, OH 45056
513-523-9849 |
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