Helping students experience benefits of being in nature is focus of new grant funded by Kathie and Rob Tyser

La Crosse school students will enjoy field trips to explore nature, urban gardening projects, hiking, birding, kayaking, geo-caching, classes in outdoor survival techniques and many other opportunities due to a new grant program of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Retired educators Kathie and Robin Tyser have created a new endowment fund, the Tyser Power of Nature Fund, to provide perpetual funding for grants to give students in the School District of La Crosse the opportunity to experience the benefits of being in nature.

“We love the outdoors and extensive research shows the clear benefits of being in nature – for mental health, wellness and physical fitness,” said Kathie Tyser. “Plus, it nurtures curiosity and increases a child’s understanding of the natural world,” said Rob Tyser.

Kathie Tyser is a retired former associate superintendent of the School District of La Crosse. She was a teacher and administrator in La Crosse schools for 30 years before retiring in 2008. During her time in administration, she worked to establish Summit Environmental School, a K-5 school on French Island that integrates an environmental focus throughout the curriculum. Since retiring, Kathie has remained active in community affairs, including serving one term on the La Crosse County Board and also as a member of the Board of the UW-L Foundation. She joined the LPEF Board in 2017 and currently serves as the foundation’s secretary.

Rob and Kathie Tyser admire the raised bed gardens planted and maintained by students and staff at Summit Environmental School on French Island. Projects like the garden could be funded under the new grant program announced June 4.

Rob Tyser taught biology for many years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he especially enjoyed teaching and research in the areas of environmental science and conservation biology. He has enjoyed many types of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, biking, and birding that started when he was a child growing up in rural Nebraska. In retirement, he is heavily engaged in Mississippi Valley Conservancy land conservation activities.

The new grant will be offered as part of LPEF’s twice-annual Gold Star Grants program, with the first applications to be accepted this fall. The overall intent is to inspire teachers to guide students, and parents, in seeing the benefits of time in nature, for people at all ages. Projects may include: field trips to explore nature or land conservation projects; on-site school experiences; co-curricular or after-school activities (such as birding, nature study, geo-caching, hiking, outdoor survival techniques, etc.); fees to hire speakers or guides; or support of costs for students exploring nature-oriented career experiences.

Get information and application forms here for Gold Star Grants.

LPEF’s mission is to enhance learning opportunities for students in the School District of La Crosse and to promote community support for public education.  For more information, contact the LPEF office at 787-0226, or email David Stoeffler at: david@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.

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