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How the Heckrodt Nature Center repurposes Christmas trees for education

Reusing Christmas trees
Posted at 3:53 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 15:03:43-05

MENASHA (NBC 26) — You probably spent time picking out the perfect tree and staring at its beauty throughout the holidays, so why let all that holiday magic go to waste just because the season is over?

After the holidays, Christmas trees can actually be reused in more ways than one.

“You can also put the trees in your own backyards. They make good shelters for birds and small mammals,” said Andrea Bierbrauer, a naturalist and early childhood program manager at Heckrodt Nature Center.

But rather than leaving them on the curb to be recycled by the city, many people chose to donate them to Heckrodt Nature Center.

“Anywhere from 75-100 trees we collect each year,” said Bierbrauer.

All to be used for education.

“So, what we do with our trees is a class called winter survival,” said Bierbrauer.

Students from all over come to learn skills that Andrea says can't be taught in the classroom.

“Learning what would happen if they got lost in the woods, how would they survive,” said Bierbrauer.

The program teaches the acronym STOP.

“We talk them over STOP, which is stay put, think, observe, and plan,” said Bierbrauer. “Then we come outside and think about building a shelter, what do you need to build a proper shelter to stay warm.”

Today, fourth graders from Franklin Elementary got to build a shelter themselves.

“They get to be as creative as they want and team build,” said Bierbrauer.

This program doesn’t just teach kids survival skills.

“It gets them outside doing the things that we did growing up, out there building shelters, enjoying nature. When they enjoy nature, they learn to appreciate nature,” said Bierbrauer.

It challenges them to solve problems they wouldn’t naturally think of.

“They did a really good job,” said Bierbrauer.

Meet Olivia Acree: NBC 26's reporter for Neenah and Menasha!

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Olivia Acree

9:53 AM, Jul 14, 2022
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