HALES CORNERS - The Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners offers more than splendor in the grass. It is also a site for student enrichment.
President and CEO Ellen Hayward explains, "The purpose or Boerner Botanical Gardens was to make sure this was a place for learning, for renewal for education for the entire life balance experience."
And that's why Boerner is a popular place to nurture young minds. Every year thousands of students learn first hand about the science of growing food. Kids witness the transformation from field to plate. They even get to sample products in a "Stir Fried Plants" class.
Loren Fitzpatrick and Kody Roberts from General Mitchell Elementary School in Cudahy took one of Boerner's classes for students. Fitzpatrick shares, "I got to learn all about the plant what it does and how it makes the food."
Roberts described his favorite part of class. He says, "Where they cut out wood from a tree and you get to look at the lines through them to tell how old they are."
Monica Jeske runs the education program at Boerner. Jeske admits, "The best part is that I get to see all different grade levels and ages levels of kids, from preschool all the way up high school."
President and CEO Ellen Hayward stresses the classes are not just field trips.They are in line with state standards for science classes. Hayward explains, "The programs at the "Friends of Boerner are all about accountability. The kids come here, we talk about what they want to learn, what they hope to learn. When they leave we talk to them about what they learned."
Hayward notes the classes go beyond the textbook. "It's intended to teach respect, trust teamwork and learning. "
The classes at Boerner attract people of all ages. There are even special programs for adults. And what better way to grow minds than in a setting that showcases one of the most stunning jewels of the Milwaukee County Park system.
Hayward concludes, "A resource like this belongs to the public. It's a private entity. We are the stewards making that happen."