Friends of Dicken Woods Grants Program Overview

In the Fall of 2004 the Friends of Dicken Woods kicked-off an innovative grant program, providing approximately $1,000 in funding to classrooms at Dicken Elementary School, with the goal of helping to integrate Dicken Woods into the environmental education curriculum and wider school experience for the Dicken Elementary community. The great success of the first year's efforts convinced the Friends of the value of this exciting program. A 2nd annual grants program was carried out in the Fall of 2005 and plans are already underway for a 3rd annual program in the 2006-2007 school year.

See below for a summary of the awards made to-date.

School Year 2005-2006 Awards

  • The 5th and 3rd grade classes will have presentations with live bats by the Cranbrook Institute, including a bat with a 4-foot wingspan! The presentations show the importance of bats in our environment, with a focus on ecosystems, foodwebs, and conservation. A followup activity will include construction and placement of bat houses into DW.
  • The 4th grade classes will have presentations with live raptors, by Dody Wyman of the River Raisin Raptor Center. This presentation fits well with the curriculum unit on animal behavior, and this will be the third year in a row that we have funded presentations by Dody. She knows Dicken School and Dicken Woods well.
  • The 2nd grade classes will work on formation of a butterfly/wildflower/seed garden. In the future the Friends (and students) will gather seeds from the flowers and then spread them to other areas of DW. The 2nd graders will also work on a wildflower and leaf quilt project, using a pounding technique with leaves and flowers from DW.
  • The 1st grade classes will conduct a bird identification project in DW, and will purchase resource materials, books, games and posters related to the environment. These activities fit well with the 1st grade curriculum unit on "the animals around us."
  • The kindergarten classes will have guided walks through the woods to see the plant life and animal habitat.
  • And finally, the art teacher will work with students in multiple grades to develop art projects for our 2nd annual mid-winter evening walk

School Year 2004-2005 Awards
The first year's grant program included awards and activities for numerous classes, including first, second, and fourth grade classes, as well as activities coordinated by the Dicken Art Teacher.

  • The first grade students in all first grade classes had guided walking tours of Dicken Woods, to learn about the animals that live in DW, as a culmination of the science curriculum unit "Animals Around Us."
  • The Dicken Art Teacher received funding to purchase supplies that allowed students to sit in DW and sketch trees, leaves, and plant life. As the teacher, Theresa Erickson, said, "Drawing from life not only helps to increase drawing skills, but also nurtures students into becoming more observant people ... with an appreciation for the beauty and complexity of nature."
  • The second grade class of Carol DeKeyzer, in collaboration with Dave Szczygiel (Ann Arbor Public Schools environmental education coordinator), received funding for a series of activities involving 3 walking tours through DW to learn about identifying plants in fall, winter and spring, as well as talking about the animals in DW. The students also wrote research reports about the plants in DW, and compiled a "Guidebook to Plants in Dicken Woods."
  • Finally, the fourth grade classes, coordinated by Leslie Lawther, received funding for presentations by Dody Wyman of the River Raisin Raptor Center, including live raptors brought to the school. This grant also included having Dody lead the students on walks through the woods to identify the best locations to place screech owl houses, which were then built and placed by FoDW volunteers.
  • The Friends are committed to making Dicken Woods a wonderful community amenity and environmental education resource for Dicken Elementary School. Stay tuned for future updates. And join the fun if you'd like! By joining the Friends mailing list, you'll be kept up to date on future activities. To Join the mailing list email "tivacko at"