Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"You showed me my first wildflower"

Bill Browning in action
At tonight's AAPS board meeting, Dave Szczygiel and Nancy Stone presented an award and thank you to Bill Browning. For many years Bill was the Ann Arbor Public Schools environmental education coordinator. He also was a member of the school board for several years. Dave is the current environmental education coordinator and Nancy Stone works for the City of Ann Arbor, but her background is also in environmental education.

Most recently, Bill Browning made a $30,000 donation to the environmental education endowment fund. The environmental education endowment fund helps support the field trips that our kids love and learn so much from. I thought it was worth saying that you, too, can make a donation to the environmental education endowment fund. They take my (not very large, but devoted) donation every year. Find out more information about the AAPS Science and Environmental Education Endowment Fund. It is easy to make a donation.

Dave Szczygiel gave Bill Browning a puddingstone, and Bill gave an explanation of puddingstones to the Board of Education. Bill also thanked "those who had gone before him." Perhaps he was talking about Bill Stapp, the founder of the district's environmental education program and a huge leader in national environmental education.

Bill Stapp
He made particular mention of people taking students up north in a "stake truck" to an AAPS-owned property. I think he might have been talking about trips that Tappan ran every year for many years. I only know about them because there is a very cool book in the Ann Arbor District Library--a history of Tappan School--and a description of the trips is in there.

My favorite thank you came from trustee Susan Baskett.  (I am slightly paraphrasing here, despite the quote marks.) "I remember those trips very well. I am a master gardener now, but you showed me my first wildflower. Trillium. Marsh marigold. And mayapple. For a little city girl, that was a big deal."

Thank you, Bill Browning!
Thank you also to Dave Szczygiel and Nancy Stone for their hard work on behalf of this program.

Read more! Here is a history of environmental education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.


  1. Bill Browning is a remarkable man - he used to take us on walks through the Lakewood woods when I went there in the 1970's. He was the first women's soccer coach at Pioneer High School in the 1980's, too.

    I will also donate again to the AAPS science and Environmental education endowment fund... Thank you for leading the way!

  2. When I read your post I thought it said a lot about you, in a good way, that what you noticed was what Sue Baskett said. Which was a very sweet moment, in what was a tough board meeting, especially when the kids got up to talk. It was so sad to hear them, sad, because no kid should feel as discouraged and defeated as they did at one time.