Lisa Wininger's Learning Story


When I was very young, I always liked to run around outside and play in the woods, creeks, fields, and meadows. I found the natural world fascinating and spent as much time as possible in it, digging holes and trying to catch wildlife.
When I was in elementary school in the 70’s, the environmental movement was just hitting its stride, and our teachers accepted the challenge of trying to get kids out of the classroom and into nature as much as possible. We had all school field days where we went to Yosemite National Park to learn about geology. We trekked out to the nearby riverbanks and took plaster molds of animal tracks for identification and measurement. Our music teacher created an all-school musical with an environmental theme, where we sang, danced, and acted what we had learned, to the delight of our parents and our small community.
Later in high school, my biology and ecology teachers moved us into the real work of water testing in local streams and irrigation ditches, and tracking and noting bird species in our local park. But by far the best were the trips she arranged to take a busload of valley and mountain kids to the Central California shore,where we spent hours just poking around in the tide pools and beach areas. We learned about where our mountain rivers went, what happened to them on the way, and how the marine environment was a wondrous place of diversity. When I attended college , those experiences and the guidance of my early teachers supported me through a science-based education. I studied environmental planning and later became an urban planner. Much later, I went back to college to become a science teacher.
Recently, I was told by a colleague that Howard Gardner had added a new “intelligence” to his previous group, naturalistic intelligence. My friend told me that as soon as she heard about this, she thought of me because of the close connection that I have with nature and its many interactions. I hope that I can do as good a job encouraging my student’s love of science and nature as my family, teachers, and community did.