When we first began exploring the world, explorers believed the world to be flat. However, because of their love of learning, scientists continued discovering all science has to hold. At West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science, our overall plan for the school has also travelled along this same path. Initially, the environmental focus was directed toward agriculture and animal husbandry: plans called for a barn with a live-in caretaker and community gardens. But, like the “flat world”, WMAES has expanded this outlook to embrace many aspects of environmental education. Sustainable living practices, renewable energy study, natural habitat, and the production and development of ecosystems are a variety of environmental areas students at West Michigan Academy are able to take part in.
Through all of the changes, our school’s mission to provide all students with the academic and life skills needed to excel once they have left the academy, has not changed.
One of the hallmarks of the school is its 62-acre campus that features outdoor stations where you’ll find students learning year-round:
- The vegetable garden –with a greenhouse for late fall/early spring gardening – helps supply the lunchroom’s salad bar, stock a summer Farmer’s Market, and provides hands-on lessons for all students.
- There’s a mud oven where students bake everything from pizza to stone ground cornbread.
- The new boardwalk, situated along the edge of the pond, gives students an excellent vantage point to study water life.
- Every few years students, with the supervision of the DNR and the Walker Fire Department, conduct a prairie burn to restore the native prairie.
- Late in the winter students tap the sugar maples and learn about syrup-making.
- Chickens and roosters provide background sounds all over the campus.
- Each summer the school hosts camps and nature sessions where students of all ages from throughout West Michigan come to learn about things like edible plants, native animals, wetlands, and more.