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ACNW Environmental Education News

December 3, 2015

Dear Charter School Leaders, EE Coordinators, Teachers, and Board Members,

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2015 ACNW Charter School Leaders Retreat last month! We learned with and from school leaders from across the state, tackled challenges facing board members and directors, and explored ways to build networks and collaborate. We want to keep the learning going, so please join us on Saturday, February 20 from 9:00-4:00 at the Audubon Center (in Sandstone) for a Flying WILD teacher workshop. Details about this event, and other learning opportunities, are below.

As always, please keep in touch! Do you have insights to share? Are you doing something really cool related to EE at your school? Are you struggling to implement a certain aspect of your contractual goals? Let me know! I’d be delighted to highlight your successes, and happy to be a thought partner in tackling your challenges.

Sincerely,

Erin E. Anderson
Environmental Education Evaluator
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 507
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 331-4181

STEMhero

STEMhero aims to help students prepare for, and get excited about, careers in STEM fields, especially those related to the natural resource challenges we hear about everyday. STEMhero uses students’ own personal data (water, energy, health) to practice real-life STEM inquiry. Why? Because young people want to learn skills and take actions that they can immediately implement and that are clearly relevant to their families today. Learn more at the STEMhero website.
CHILDREN’S ENVIRONMENTAL LITERACY FOUNDATION
 
The Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation provides consulting services, training programs, and educational programs for teachers, students, and communities to promote sustainability education in K-12 curriculum, decision-making, civic engagement, community partnerships, and school campus practices. Both standard and customized programs are available.
ACNW ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION STAFF TRAINING
 
ACNW staff will visit during teacher professional development to provide context for implementing the school’s EE goals in conjunction with a site visit or other PD opportunity. The presentation walks through what ACNW is and why we authorize schools, outlines our authorizing responsibilities, and focuses on understanding the role of EE in the contract and how schools can carry out those goals. We typically request 60 minutes, including time to reflect on the school’s EE goals and discuss them in teams.
 
Please contact Erin for more information or to schedule a session. We look forward to the opportunity to meet your faculty and staff.
CASE STUDY: CREATING COLLABORATIVE CURRICULUM
 
Collaborations between teachers and scientists can generate novel classroom experiences that enhance students’ enthusiasm for science. This article (via Green Schools National Network) describes a collaboration between teachers and scientists, the goals of which were to create classroom-ready materials that get students thinking about and analyzing ozone pollution data like scientists would, and advises educators on how to get involved in science out-reach of their own.
SUSTAINABLE PURCHASING POLICY
 
Does your school have a green purchasing policy in place? Green purchasing policies take into account the environment and health when making buying decisions for the entire school (or district). They can save schools money while protecting the health of students and staff. What’s not to love? More information, and sample policies, can be found on the Green Schools Initiative website.
FARM TO SCHOOL 101: AN INTRODUCTION TO FARM TO SCHOOL AND TIPS FOR LAUNCHING A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM
 
It is not a secret that healthy children have higher levels of academic achievement in the classroom (Dirks and Orvis 2005, Waliczek 2001). Having access to nutritious food, in school and at home, can play a big role in influencing a child’s health and learning outcomes. Increasingly, schools are investing in programs that promote healthier food choices and nutrition education. One of the most popular and successful programs in the United States today is farm to school. This article provides background, benefits, and tips to start and maintain a farm to school program.
EVERY KID IN A PARK
 
Fourth grade educators can download an activity on exploring federal lands and waters with their students, as well as print out paper passes that grant fourth grade students free access to all national parks, lands, and waters through August 31, 2016. Download your paper passes on the Every Kid in a Park website.
GREEN RIBBON SCHOOLS
 
Is your school making strides in being green? Do you want to have an incentive for improving? The Green Ribbon Schools Awards from the U.S. Department of Education honor schools that reduce environmental impact, improve health and nutrition, and provide effective environmental education. The U.S. Department of Energy Green Ribbon website includes many resources, including summaries of applications by past awardees. For further information, contact John Olson, MDE Science Specialist, at (651) 582-8673. Applications are due in late December.
MINNESOTA GREEN SCHOOLS COALITION
 
The Minnesota Green Schools Coalition brings together the state’s strongest advocates for our children to create a Minnesota infrastructure of green schools – healthy, high-performing schools that are conducive to learning while saving energy, resources, and money. Membership is FREE and open to any teacher or school interested in participating. To join or to learn more, visit the GSC website.
GRANTS
 
Fund for Teachers
Fund for Teachers provides educators the resources and funding they need to pursue self-designed professional learning experiences. Funding for Teachers grant awards support a variety of projects, all designed to create enhanced learning environments for teachers, their students, and school communities. Since 2001, Fund for Teachers has invested $22 million in nearly 6,000 teachers. Learn more about how to apply online, or RSVP for the next info session webinar on December 16, 2015 at 5:30 PM.

Herb Society of America Accepting Applications for Educator Grants
Through the Grant for Educators program, the Herb Society of America will award a grant or two totaling up to $5,000 to a project(s) that enhances herbal education in school systems, communities, or in any public forum (electronic or person-to-person). To be eligible, projects must have learning goals and a mechanism to measure educational outcomes. To be considered for an award, applications must be e-mail date stamped by December 31, 2015.
 
Captain Planet Foundation Offers Grants for Hands-On Environmental Education Activities
The Captain Planet Foundation offers grants to bring environment-based education to schools and to inspire youth and communities to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities. The foundation will fund unique and innovative projects that do not precisely match the grant guidelines but otherwise promote the foundation’s mission of hands-on environmental activities. Learn more and apply online. Applications are due January 31, 2016.
 
Toshiba America Foundation
The Toshiba America Foundation gives grants to teachers in K-12 schools to help them teach math and science in innovative ways. Applications are for project-based learning only and must be completed online. Grant applications for grades 6-12 that are $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the calendar year, while grants exceeding $5,000 are reviewed twice a year. The next deadline for these grants is February 1, 2016.
 
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools
Launched in 2010, the mission of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is to donate salad bars to U.S. schools so every child has daily access to fresh fruits and vegetables. This grant program is an equipment grant. Grantees receive an actual salad bar and the training needed to implement a school salad bar program successfully. Interested schools should have their food services director complete the application and be the point of contact.
 
More School Garden Grants
The Jeffers Foundation has compiled a list of grants that are available to help you start or maintain a school garden. They have identified 13 opportunities with deadlines from now through early January.
 
USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative
The USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative offers a listing of funding sources for scaling up local and regional food systems and strengthening economies. The website lists over two dozen programs at USDA that can help build local and regional food systems, including funding for farm to school programs.
 
EE Mission Match Funds
ACNW offers up to $500.00 annually to each authorized school to help achieve your environmental education goals. FY16 funds will be available beginning on July 1, 2015. Schools can apply for these funds each year of their contract. Funds may be used to buy equipment, provide a match for an EE-related grant, hire a presenter, or pay for a field trip to the Audubon Center or any other EE-based location of your choice.
 
To apply for these funds:
  1. Download the application from the CSD website. Your project must be pre-approved before you can receive funding.
  2. Complete the application and return to Erin.
Once approved, funds will be released to your school only AFTER an invoice or other proof of payment is received. Our Business Manager is diligent in sending out funds within 5-10 business days. Proof of fund use is a requirement of the Audubon Center audit and funds will not be released without this.
UPCOMING DATES

Project WILD Workshop
The Audubon Center of the North Woods is hosting a Flying WILD & One Bird Two Worlds Teacher Workshop on Saturday, February 20. Flying WILD, a program of the Council for Environmental Education, introduces students in grades 5-9 to bird conservation through classroom activities and environmental stewardship projects. Registration includes lunch, curriculum guides, and 6 CEUs. FREE Project Learning Tree Workshop
The Audubon Center of the North Woods is hosting a Project Learning Tree Teacher Workshop on Saturday, February 27. Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers working with youth in Grades PreK-12. This workshop is sponsored by the Twin Cities chapter of ICOHH, and will provide lunch in addition to curriculum guides and 5 CEUs.
  • When: Saturday, February 27 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
  • Where: Audubon Center of the North Woods
  • Fee: FREE, but pre-registration is required
  • Register online
  • For more information, contact Laura Duffey at (651) 259-5263 or by email.
FREE Green Teacher Winter Webinars
Green Teacher's upcoming webinars are an interactive way for educators to continue learning about key environmental topics. These professional development webinar series features some of the most important thinkers in the field of environmental education addressing vital and relevant topics. Winter topics include:
  • Fostering Leadership for Sustainability;
  • How to be a Better Teacher-Naturalist;
  • Collecting Field Data on Local Birds with Elementary Students; and
  • Remote Cameras in Environmental Education.
Registration is FREE and one can obtain a certificate upon completion.  Visit the Green Teacher website to register.
RESOURCES

Discovery Education
Discovery Education offers a broad range of free classroom resources for teachers in grades K-12. Subjects covered include science, math, English, social studies, health, and technology. Find lesson plans, videos, puzzles, worksheets, and more.

The Food Trust’s Kindergarten Initiative
The Food Trust, a nonprofit based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has developed a toolkit for its Kindergarten Initiative, a program focused on teaching kindergarteners about farm fresh foods through cooking in the classroom and farm field trips.

USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit
The USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit contains tips, examples, insights, and resources for schools, school districts, and community partners looking to start or grow a farm to school program.

Nourish Curriculum for Classrooms
Nourish is an educational initiative, launched in 2009, that is designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, particularly in schools and communities. The Nourish website has a wealth of resources to help teachers create their own food literacy units, including a curriculum guide, food system tools, videos, and action ideas.
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.


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