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InaNewFlight looks to experts on BirdWalk

GIRLS LEARN ABOUT 43 DIFFERENT BIRD SPECIES

Four dedicated, novice birders from the Prairieview program woke up before sunrise and geared up for their first “bird walk” at Wisconsin Interstate Park. The bird walk was led by the Polk County’s most sought after “bird man,” Brian Collins. Brian teaches at Unity High School located in Balsam Lake, Wisconsin and spends his summers working all over the state conducting bird surveys.

The girls were welcomed with enthusiasm to the bird walk, which was attended by a diverse group of local people all wanting to spend their Saturday morning the same way (on the trail counting birds)! Geared up with binoculars, pencils and bird count pamphlets, we set out on our morning adventure. The first exciting species noted was the Great Blue Heron which included views of their nest, hatchlings and the adults carrying building material up to the nest. Next up was the great Bald Eagle who dipped down into the marsh to gather nesting materials before heading back to its nest, giving us an extended amount of time to view the raptor in action. The morning continued to get better as the expert birders were hearing several species of birds at the same time, calling them out and the girls worked hard to find the different spotted birds with their binoculars. All in all, we either saw or heard 43 different species. At the very end of the hike, a special treat was in store as the parks education ranger, Julie Fox, pointed out a small hole in a bare tree near the trail. Much to our surprise, the hole was indeed the home to a pair of Ruby Breasted Nuthatches. We were mesmerized for several minutes, watching the pair trade places and do some cleaning of their house by ousting sawdust with their beaks. We had a fantastic morning and it was so fun being on the trail with experts on the topic. If the girls spotted a bird, there was someone right next to them willing to help identify the bird and share their knowledge.

With cold fingers and a new appreciation for early Saturday mornings, we enjoyed a hot chocolate and fresh cake donut from the local bakery before heading back to Northwest Passage. Our conversation on the way home was full of contagious enthusiasm for the morning experience and each girl talked about their favorite bird of the day.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher

Here at Northwest Passage, we enjoy watching our kids learn. Our teachers work hard to come up with lesson plans to get them out of the classroom and exploring the local area to learn about wildlife. InaNewFlight is a bird unit dedicated to teaching our youth about the many different species of birds and their hardworking lifestyles.

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Prairieview bird unit is InaNewFlight

STUDENTS MEET CHALLENGES OF WATERFOWL INSTRUCTION

Divers, Dabblers, Geese and Swans all encompass the latest segment of Prairieview School’s bird unit, otherwise known as, #quackquack.  The girls have spent several weeks engrossed in the biology and ecology of all types of birds. The past two weeks have focused on waterfowl, which naturally resulted in an educational field trip to Crex Meadows, located in Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Crex Meadows is a unique area that we are fortunate enough to have in (almost) our backyard. The wildlife area is 30,000 acres, making it one of the largest state owned wildlife areas in Wisconsin. Crex Meadows provides us with a place for our kids to explore the outdoors and view Wisconsin wildlife up close.

This week, Prairieview students were instructed on waterfowl and challenged by Crex Meadow’s Wisconsin Conservation Educator, Kristi Pupak. Throughout their morning program, the girls worked to build a duck blind, identify various ducks using a field guide and mounted specimens, and played an active game simulating duck migration and habitats! They turned out to be fantastic duck identifiers and worked hard throughout the morning to put their waterfowl skills to the test.

After a morning of waterfowl education, we ate our packed lunches at Crex Meadows and spent the afternoon taking photos for InaNewLight. The kids strived to photograph and identify the species which they focused on earlier in the day. They have enjoyed the challenge of putting their classroom knowledge to use in the field with their cameras.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the academic care of our kids. Our teachers take them on field trips to places like Crex Meadows where they have hands-on experiences for a memorable learning experience. We are mindful of the fact that everyone learns differently and the more opportunities we can give, the more likely that they will comprehend the teachings and walk away with new knowledge.

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Need for Speed met at Riverside through Pinewood Derby

TAKING PART IN A CLASSIC BOYHOOD EXPERIENCE

 

This April was host to the 20th annual pinewood derby races at Northwest Passage Riverside.

The need for speed was racing through our Riverside Creative Arts program as the residents worked feverishly to create unique and original car designs to enter into the big race. From trucks to convertibles, the various designs were tested and adjusted by each student to maximize the speed of their cars. We were even lucky enough to have a celebrity appearance by Mater from the movie Cars as he raced backwards down the track.

After the cars were completed, and race day arrived, we all gathered around our pinewood derby raceway. The races took place, cheers and laughter could be heard echoing around the Riverside grounds, as each student entered their car to race against staff and peers. The excitement and sportsmanship witnessed amongst the residents truly made the 20th annual pinewood derby race a memorable and inspirational experience.

Ben Johnson – Riverside Teacher

Northwest Passage focuses on many areas of care for our kids. One is through our expressive arts program. This program at Riverside gives the boys a chance to take part in classic boyhood experiences that they may be missing out on during their stay with us or that they may never have gotten to experience if they did not come to be with us.

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Andrew Walsh is Coming!

KIDS SEE THEMSELVES IN A NEW LIGHT, QUITE LITERALLY

For the second year in a row, we are happy to welcome home, former Webster graduate and professional commercial and fine art photographer, Andrew Walsh of Andrew Walsh Photography and Andrew Walsh Productions, to Northwest Passage. He will be here during the week of May 16 – 20 as an artist in residence at our InaNewLight Gallery. During his stay he will be inspiring our students to think big and enhance their story-telling through their fine art photography efforts in our InaNewLight programming.

In addition to this amazing experience for the kids, Andrew also spends time capturing world-class portraits of each resident allowing our kids to see themselves as the beautiful people that they are. Andrew shares these photos with our residents and we all take a moment celebrate our own unique identity and beauty as it shines out from within in the stunning photos.

At the end of this whirl-wind week, we’ll be hosting an open house showcasing Andrew’s work alongside the photographs by the Youth Artists of Northwest Passage. Consider joining us in celebrating our kids and thanking Andrew on Friday, May 20 at 4 PM – 6 PM at the Gallery.

We thank him for sharing his talent and passion with our clients and the community and for making the trip all the way from Oregon – thanks Andrew.

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Caring for Flour Babies at Riverside

CARING FOR BAGS OF FLOUR CREATES DEEPER MEANING FOR YOUNG MEN AT RIVERSIDE

Meet the “Flour Babies” at Riverside and their proud “parents.”

Northwest Passage’s Riverside boys took on a new experience as they cared for ‘flour babies’ for two days. In health class, the boys had been talking about reproductive systems, pregnancy and childcare. Many classroom discussions were held, power point presentations presented, videos watched, group activities completed, internet research conducted and the final project concluded with each resident caring for their own flour baby.

The boys helped create and dressed their own flour baby, named their flour baby and decided where the baby would sit and sleep for the next two days. The boys had to take their flour baby with him to all areas of programming; school, creative arts, recreation, groups, therapy, etc. While they were in programming, a designated location was decided for daycare.

When this experience was done staff reflected with the boys about the past two days. Many boys enjoyed caring for something else other than themselves and they felt like they were needed by someone. A resident mentioned, “I woke up in the morning and I would check on my baby right away”. The boys learned a lot about themselves through this project, like how caring and compassionate they are but also that many of them are not ready for the responsibility of a baby.

CONSIDER SUPPORTING OUR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

Northwest Passage is dedicated to the experiential education of our kids. Through activities like this, kids are able to bring topics from the classroom to whole new level. Thanks to the dedication of our teachers and staff and support from donors like you, we’re able to offer exceptional opportunities like this that truly teach our kids to enjoy school again.

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Thinking outside of the box, with boxes… and MORE!

CLASSROOM FUN SPARKS LOVE FOR LEARNING AT PASSAGE

As you know, our experiential education programming has allowed InaNewLight to soar to great heights and allows learners of all types to reclaim a love for the classroom. Now take a moment to see our educators, and kids, in action as they strive to provide a classroom experience to fit all of our kids’ needs; to ignite a passion for learning.

By combining service, nature, and project-based learning we are curating classroom experiences where our kids are excelling at learning, sometimes for the first time. If you’d like to learn about what we’ve been up to, here are just a few stories to get you started.

We are proud of the education the kids at Passage receive during a very difficult time in their lives. The kids that come to us are dealing with mental health and emotional challenges, but they’re also struggling with the realities of living away from home, meeting new people, making friends, and learning many new life skills. One thing we can do to help ease the kids into their home-away-from-home is to provide an adaptive education that looks and feel like a normal classroom. We still have science fairs, papers due, and those desks connected to their chair, but we also inject project based learning that can open up the classroom to learners of all levels.

Our educational curriculum is guided not only by state and core standards, but by the principals of living the PassageWay – learning to live a Therapeutic Lifestyle. This means that many of the elements to living a therapeutic lifestyle are incorporated into the classroom, resulting in a more dynamic approach to teaching. From service to time spent in nature, our kids have a robust learning experience that we’re proud to say is fully accredited and truly serves as a building block to success in life.

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Northwest Passage Riverside Captures Gitchi Gumee In a New Light

THE YOUNG MEN OF RIVERSIDE HIT THE SHORES OF LAKE SUPERIOR

Experiential learning on the shores of Lake Superior connects boys to nature, history, and even themselves.

Gitchi Gumee, otherwise known as Lake Superior, lies just over an hour’s drive up the road from Northwest Passage Riverside – practically in our own backyard! Over the course of the next year, the young men at Riverside will turn their camera lenses and desire for adventure to “the Big Lake” while they learn about culture, history, and the environment. They will explore the tributaries, shorelines, lighthouses and beaches while they capture the many faces of the lake and discover the healing power of Gitchi Gumee.

So why are we so excited about spending time at the shores of Gitchi Gumee? Well, for anyone who’s ever been there, it is obvious. But just to be clear let’s talk a little more about her. She is the biggest body of freshwater on earth. Three quadrillion gallons of it sloshing around in a sand and stone basin that was formed by volcanic activity over a billion years ago. From east to west the Lake is just over 350 miles long. From north to south, 160 miles. One could more easily travel from Miami to Seattle than trace each foot of shoreline* along the Lake. The water is home to 78 species of fish, countless invertebrates, mammals and birds. It is so clear that  along most of its coast you can see down deep, to the sandy bottom. However, it’s much deeper than you can see – over 1300 feet at its greatest depth east of the Keweenaw Peninsula. If Lake Superior were drained it would cover the entirety of North America in about a foot and a half of water.

Gitchi Gumee is far more than facts and figures and math and measurements, though. She is calm waves on endless beaches. She is distant horizons with hopeful sunrises and reflective sunsets. She is ice-heaved shorelines in the middle of January and ten foot tall crashing waves on rocky cliffs in October. She is the tributaries and coastal wetlands of her watershed. She is an inland sea with many faces and countless moods.

Please follow our adventures and get to know Gitchi Gumee a little better… and along the way, our special young men.

*If you paddle your kayak fast and you can take some shortcuts, you can make it around in about two months…trust me.

Ian Karl – Experiential Programming Coordinator for Northwest Passage

 

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Riverside heads to Feed my Starving Children

THE BOYS AT RIVERSIDE LEARNED A LESSON OR TWO AND WHILE LENDING A HELPING HAND

This month some residents of Northwest Passage Riverside made a real and tangible difference in the lives of children around the world. They did so by donating their time and money to the Coon Rapids-based charity “Feed My Starving Children.”

Students had been studying about South America and Africa in geography class. In addition to learning about the interesting physical features and positive cultural aspects of these continents, students were introduced to the harsh reality of severe poverty that sometimes afflicts children and adults in these (and other) parts of the world.

The goal of the lessons on poverty was not to heap guilt or hopelessness upon our residents, but rather to raise awareness and to prepare them to make a real difference by turning a situation of despair into one of hope.

In preparation for the field trip, residents were given the opportunity to donate their hard-earned “school bucks” (our incentive program at the Riverside School). Many of our students responded to the call and donated a total of $62.75 to the cause of feeding hungry people around the world. (The students’ school bucks were traded in for real dollars at a healthy exchange rate).

At the facility we were given a brief orientation to the goals and impact of Feed My Starving Children and the procedures for making the food packs. After this, three staff with 11 residents helped to scoop, weigh, bag, seal, and box meal packs that were going to be shipped to needy areas around the world. The food packs (called “Manna Packs”) consisted of a vitamin mix, dried vegetables, soy filler, and rice. The cost to produce one of these packs, which make 6 – 12 servings, is a mere 22 cents. The low cost is partially due to the fact that much of the labor needed to produce the Manna Packs is completed by volunteers – like our group of boys from NWP Riverside. Our young men worked energetically and cooperatively to produce numerous boxes of potentially life-saving meals. One resident was so focused on his task in the effort that he refused to take a water break. And while our residents were engaged in serious work, they also had a lot of fun volunteering at the facility with other local school groups. They enthusiastically cheered whenever they completed a box and some of them even felt comfortable enough to loudly sing along to some songs being piped through the facility speakers.

At the conclusion of our shift, we were thanked for our hard work and donation. We also were given a sample of the Manna Pack meals that we had been making. The director of the facility then shared the total number of packs produced at the facility during the shift – enough to provide over 35,000 meals. While this effort involved more than our small group of students, I am very proud of our residents’ contributions in time, energy, and resources to make it happen.

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Snow, Ice, and Fishing

LEARNING FROM WISCONSIN SPORTING TRADITIONS

Nothing says winter like spending a day on the ice attempting to catch some fish! The Assessment’s Cedar Unit ventured to Big Butternut Lake in Luck to try their hand at ice fishing and bring home the big fish. The students first learned, in the classroom setting, about safety on the ice and the different variety of fish that lived in the lake. They created posters and other projects about the fish they chose to research.

No trip would be complete without learning about how to use the equipment – because let’s admit it – tangled fishing line is just no fun. The kids learned how to hook minnows and be patient (especially when the fish were not biting), as well as set up a tip-up. While waiting for the fish to bite we had a variety of different activities set up for the kids to stay active and engaged. These included building snow sculptures, sliding contests, and ice bowling.

Students also took advantage of the weather and brought cameras to explore a different side of winter – on the ice. Learning about how light affects photography on the ice was a key teaching point. Molly, our expressive arts teacher, worked with several students to identify the most effective angles and how to manipulate light to get the shot they wanted.

Hannah Curran – Assessment, Cedar Unit Teacher

Northwest Passage is committed to the recreational care of our kids. Our teachers and staff get the kids outside trying new recreational activities in order to help the kids find things that they may have not known that they would enjoy. This not only gives them something to look forward to during their stay at Northwest Passage but also teaches them something that they can do for fun when they leave.

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Prairieview at the Birkebeiner!

SEE THIS HISTORIC SKI EVENT THROUGH THE EYES OF OUR KIDS

Six young ladies from Prairieview traveled north and braved the bone-chilling rain to volunteer and capture some special moments of the skiers as they traverse the trail in their final miles.

The 43rd American Birkebeiner took place over the past weekend and Northwest Passage was there to capture the action. The young ladies of Prairieview volunteered at the Gravel Pit Aid Station with helping hands. They passed out water, energy drinks, and snacks to the racers. Some of the fastest cross country skiers in the world were on hand along with dedicated citizen racers from around the country. The girls from Prairieview not only volunteered but captured the excitement and emotion of the ski marathon with their cameras.

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