ACNW Environmental Education News

January 7, 2014 

Dear Charter School Leaders, EE Coordinators, Teachers, and Board Members,
Happy New Year! I hope everyone is keeping warm and enjoying the cold, clear Minnesota winter. Don’t let the weather keep you inside – there’s lots of fun ways to learn in, with, and about the environment, even when the drifts are high. On a related note, please join us on Friday, January 16 from 10:00-3:00 at the Audubon Center (in Sandstone) for an environmental literacy work session as we think about ways to measure student environmental literacy. (We can probably find time to play in the snow while we’re there, too!) 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.


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


Please join us on Friday, January 16 from 10:00-3:00 at the Audubon Center (in Sandstone) for an environmental literacy work session. Throughout the course of the day, we will seek to define environmental literacy, identify its components, and develop ways to measure and assess this important, though complex, domain. CEUs are available, and lunch will be provided.
If you are interested in participating, please RSVP to Erin by Friday, January 9.

This Flying WILD and One Bird, Two Worlds Teacher Workshop is designed for teachers to use with 5th grade to 8th grade as a year-long science theme or tailored to an 8-week concentrated unit. The curriculum focus of birds, forest, and people is woven together with a travel scheme, by our ambassador bird the Baltimore oriole, by our sister state Costa Rica, and by our common ecosystem, forests.

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. Flying WILD encourages schools to work closely with conservation organizations, community groups, and businesses involved with birds to implement school bird festivals and bird conservation projects.Light refreshments and lunch will be provided in addition to the One Bird Two Worlds and Flying WILD curriculum guides, and CEUs.

In order to support its authorized schools in meeting its contractual EE goals, the Charter School Division is offering free teacher training. The session focuses specifically on creating place-based and nature-focused learning opportunities, even in schools where concrete abounds. Teachers will engage in model classroom activities that use objects as the basis for learning, and explore ways to build their own nature-based learning opportunities.

To learn more or to schedule training, please contact Erin.

To visit the Audubon Center, or to learn more about bringing a K-12 program to your school, please visit the Audubon Center of the North Woods.

The Arctic Ocean is the world's smallest and most shallow ocean, but it is also home to amazing plants and animals. Draw attention to our living Arctic by creating a bookmark masterpiece. Schools may submit entries until January 23, 2015. The wining student’s class/school will receive 100 copies of their wining bookmark along with a copy of the book: The Arctic Refuge; Seasons of Life and Land. For more information, to learn more about the plants and animals of the Arctic, or to join visit the Alaska Wilderness League Educator Network, visit their website.

Desirable environmental education is about both natural and built environments. The Minnesota Historical Society offers a variety of natural history and nature programs at its historic sites throughout the state, and resources are available to help get you there.
The MacMillian Field Trip Grants Program helps offset transportation and lodging costs for greater Minnesota schools visiting Minnesota Historical Society historic sites and museums in the Twin Cities metro area. Apply for a scholarship online.
The Legacy Field Trip Support Fund offers financial assistance to offset transportation costs to visit any of the Minnesota Historical Society's 26 museums and historic sites. Scholarships are first come, first served, and field trips need to be completed before June 30, 2015. Apply online, or email with questions.

Join a dedicated group of educators focused on integrating and embedding environmental education and outdoor learning into everyday instruction. Join for one Saturday or for the entire series. Come prepared to spend a bit of time outdoors at each session, and bring a journal. This group typically meets the first Saturday of each month, although not in December.
Next date:       Saturday, January 10, 2015
Topic:              Reading Your Winter Landscape
Time:               9:30 AM-12:00 PM
Location:         Bloomington Education and Visitor Center of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Register online or contact Suzanne Trapp at (952) 361-4502 for more information.

Captain Planet Foundation
The Captain Planet Foundation supports educational programs that enable youth to understand and appreciate our world by getting involved in hands-on projects to improve the environment. The Foundation is interested in funding innovative programs that inspire youth to participate in community service through environmental stewardship activities. An additional priority is to fund programs that encourage environment-based education in schools. Nonprofit organizations and public schools may apply for grants of $500 to $2,500. Priority is given to projects with matching funds and/or in-kind support. The first application deadline for 2015 is January 31st.
Up North Farm Bus
Up North Farm and Restoration, located near Duluth, is converting a retired school bus to create a mobile education center for sustainable farming, complete with live animals and a perennial propagation aquaponics system. To bring the bus to your school or community for free, please email Charlie Danielson with a one to two paragraph description about why it is important for students and families to learn about sustainable food sources by January 15, 2015. Visit the Up North Farm website for more information about the project or the farm.
EE Mission Match Funds
ACNW is offering up to $500.00 to each authorized school to help achieve your environmental education goals. 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.
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.

Great Lakes Aquarium Science Institute for Educators Field Day
This FREE six-hour field day will focus on collecting data on lakes in winter and macroinvertebrate identification. Field day workshops feature hands-on learning with local scientist in rivers and lakes around Duluth, tools and tips for designing field excursions with students, and local environmental education resource centers and supporting mentors. Earn six CEUs. Participants will need to pack a lunch and provide their own transportation.
  • When: Saturday, January 10
  • Time: 10:00 AM-4:00 PM
  • Where: Pike or Island Lake & Boulder Lake (Duluth)
  • Register online or contact Samantha Smingler at (218) 740-2027.

Refuge Partner Teacher Orientation Workshop
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge offers a FREE teacher-led environmental education model that emphasizes teacher training, field trip planning support, and multidisciplinary, standard-based curriculum. The curriculum incorporates hands-on, real-life experiences with plants and wildlife. The Partner Teacher Program is open to any teacher interested in using the refuge as their own personal outdoor classroom! Attend at least one orientation session to participate in the Program.
Great Lakes Aquarium Science Institute for Educators
This FREE two-hour workshop showcases inquiry-based activities tying into the Next Generation Science Standards Crosscutting Concepts. This workshop will showcase an interdisciplinary hands-on lesson plan and teaching tools related to invasive species and human impacts.
Refuge Partner Teacher Winter Workshop
In this workshop, you will work directly with Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge education staff to develop personalized field trip plans that support classroom learning in science as well as other academic areas. Receive free multi-disciplinary, standard-based refuge curriculum that highlights biological events of winter, provides literature connections, and rainy day alternatives. Participate in a variety of outdoor experiences like snowshoeing and wildlife observation using refuge snowshoes and binoculars. Participants must have attended a Refuge Partner Teacher Orientation Workshop prior to attending this workshop.
Night Sky of the North Woods (Soudan)
After a short presentation, participants can view the celestial sights through provided telescope and binoculars. Please use the winter (service) entrance and park by the visitor center. Be sure to dress for being outside. Bad weather will cause this program to be canceled.
SciGirls STEM Educator Training
Local educators are invited to participate in a hands-on, minds-on professional development training hosted by Twin Cities Environmental Education Consulting. Participants attending this workshop will discover the latest research for exciting and engaging students in STEM learning, participate in hands-on STEM activities, learn to modify activities to engage students in STEM, and receive curriculum and additional online resources to enhance teaching and learning. CEUs are available upon request.
Our World Speaker Series at the Minnesota Zoo
There are more than 1,000 internationally recognized World Heritage sites, more than 200 of those are natural sites e.g. Yellowstone, the Serengeti, and Mount Everest. Every one of them is currently being affected by climate change, urbanization, and land use. In order to conserve these sites for future generations, we need to know which sites are most at risk, which animals (and plants) are at risk, and we need to agree on the concept of heritage. Dr. Perry will share his personal stories from his travels and research to profile five natural World Heritage sites, discussing the animals and the ecosystem characteristics that are being threatened by different forces. Two CEUs are available upon request for each event.
Free Exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
In “The Nature of Nature,” MIA curators invite visitors to explore fundamental ideas about our evolving relationship to nature over time, across cultures, and in our lives today. Our understanding of nature, as depicted in contemporary and historical works of art from all areas of the museum’s permanent collection, appears in multiple mini-exhibitions spanning 10 galleries in the Target Wing. Open now through July 17, 2016.
Free Climate Literacy Framework
Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science is an interagency guide that provides a framework and essential principles for formal and informal education about climate change. It presents important information for individuals and communities to understand Earth's climate, impacts of climate change, and approaches for adapting and mitigating change. Principles in the guide can serve as discussion starters or launching points for scientific inquiry. The guide can also serve educators who teach climate science as part of their science curricula. This resource is available for download in both English and Spanish at the U.S. Global Change Research Program website.
Free Copy of Energy Saving Guide for Schools
Download a free copy of The Ultimate Guide to Saving Energy and Money in Schools from Schools for Energy Efficiency, an energy conservation program for schools based in Minnesota. The link to download the resource is on the homepage of SEE’s website.
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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