September 2016 EE Update
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ACNW Environmental Education News

September 12, 2016 

Dear Charter School Leaders, EE Coordinators, Teachers, and Board Members,
The EE Update is back with the start of another new school year! I hope you had a great summer exploring Minnesota’s natural places and rejuvenating for the year ahead. As you head back to the classroom, think about buying green when you stock up on school supplies – look for products that are less toxic, are recyclable or have recycled content, and are reusable. The Green Schools Initiative has a webpage devoted to green back-to-school supplies and where to purchase them.
In addition, ACNW is partnering with the Project WET Foundation to offer teachers in ACNW-authorized schools training in the Clean and Conserve curriculum on Tuesday, September 27 at 4:15 PM. This free, two-hour workshop will be hosted by Noble Academy in Brooklyn Park. See below for more information, or to register.
This spring, Hennepin County awarded several grants to local schools to build, grow, or improve their recycling program or organics collection. Congratulations to ACNW-authorized schools Best Academy, Bright Water Academy, Excell Academy, Harvest Prep, and Noble Academy for their awards! We can’t wait to see how this funding contributes to your students’ environmental literacy.
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


The Project WET Foundation and Ecolab have partnered to create the Clean and Conserve Education Program. Their goal is to empower two million people worldwide to conserve water and make the world a healthier place. ACNW is partnering with Project WET staff members to host a training workshop for educators in ACNW authorized charter schools on Tuesday, September 27. This two-hour workshop is FREE to attend and will include training in the Clean and Conserve curriculum and a discussion about implementing the program in the classroom. Complimentary copies of all four Clean and Conserve publications will be provided to each participant, and attendees will have the opportunity to request additional copies of the materials. There is no limit on the number of teachers who can attend from each school. CEUs will be provided, but pre-registration is required by Friday, September 23.
  • Date: Tuesday, September 27 at 4:15-6:15 PM
  • Where: Noble Academy, Brooklyn Park
  • Who: Teachers in ACNW authorized schools
  • Cost: FREE
  • Pre-registration is required. Register online, or email Erin for more information.
Thanks to everyone who participated in ACNW's environmental justice-focused teacher workshop. Teachers reported that it was their first time learning about how environmental racism impacts students across Minnesota and how that might impact their learning, as well as learning some hands-on ways to integrate environmental education, even if concrete abounds at your school. Below you will find links to other resources that were provided by session presenters, and that you might find useful in your teaching this year.
Envirothon is a problem-solving, natural resources competition for high school and junior high school students that tests their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife. Teams of five students complete hands-on activities and give presentations on current environmental issues at an Area Envirothon, and the top three teams from each area advance to the State Envirothon. Visit the Minnesota Envirothon website to learn more or begin preparing for the 2017 competition!
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.

Many schools have been slow to embrace recycling. Recycle Bowl hopes to galvanize recycling in elementary, middle and high schools across America through a national K-12 recycling competition. By participating, schools have the opportunity to win prizes and receive national recognition. Visit the competition website to learn more about competing, view the official rules, and register your school. Registration ends on Tuesday, October 11, 2016.
Founded in 2001, Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) is an innovative network of free public schools serving South Los Angeles. The mission of ECS is to create and deliver vibrant, innovative, interdisciplinary learning opportunities using the environment to engage students and connect them to the wider world. Since its inception, ECS has provided students with unique learning experiences that utilize environmental service learning to inspire students to find authentic meaning in their studies. Learn more in this article about the ECS best practice model – a small community school paired with an interdisciplinary curriculum and authentic assessment, environmental and experiential learning, and community partnerships – and how those practices are incorporated across the ECS experience.
Since 2002 Crellin Elementary, nestled in Appalachia (a region known for generations of persistent poverty), has turned its school around by rejecting prevailing educational trends. Crellin engaged the community and embedded local terrain in every aspect of its place-based education. Students were rarely indoors, instructors ensured subject areas “intertwined,” standardized tests were “just another day,” and state standards were the “floor” and not something to be taught to. Tending to the students’ (and often the community’s) social-emotional needs was the highest priority. Learn more about the school’s transition and get tips for getting started with place-based education in this article from Green Schools National Network.
Educators and policymakers alike acknowledge that sustainability education is good for the planet, but there is less consensus on how developing informed environmental advocates impacts achievement. EL Education schools – a network of 150 schools across the country, many of them serving urban and/or low-income families – are answering that question with enviable academic results and equally stellar stewardship. EL Education’s portfolio includes three national Green Ribbon award winners, and many more schools that ensure kids develop both the aptitude and attitude to address the sticky problems of our global future. Leaders at EL Education schools share three common practices that get kids on the green way to getting smart.
Lowes Toolbox for Education Grants
The Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program is funded by the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, and supports grassroots community and school projects in the communities where Lowe’s does business. The Fall 2016 grant cycle closes on September 26, 2016. Visit the website to learn more about past grant recipients, view sample projects, and download a pre-application checklist.
Captain Planet Foundation
The Captain Planet Foundation offers grants for hands-on environmental education activities. Grants are intended to serve as a means of bringing environment-based education to schools and of inspiring 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 its grant guidelines, but otherwise promote its focus on hands-on environmental activities. Captain Planet Foundation will accept small grant requests for amounts between $500-$2,500. Preferential consideration is given to requests that have secured at least 50% matching or in-kind funding for their projects. Learn more or apply online. The deadline to apply is September 30.
Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! Grant
Project Learning Tree is accepting applications from schools and nonprofit organizations for environmental service-learning projects through its GreenWorks! grants program. The program is designed to help students make their schools "greener" and healthier by, for example, implementing a recycling program, conserving water and energy, initiating a project to improve air quality, or establishing a school garden or outdoor classroom and integrating it into the curriculum. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to support environmental service-learning projects. To be eligible for a grant, the proposed project must have secured at least a 50% match from another source (in-kind acceptable). The deadline to apply is September 30.
Native Plant Education Projects
Wild Ones, a nonprofit environmental education and advocacy organization, is accepting applications from projects that aim to enhance and develop an appreciation for nature using native plants. Grants of up to $500 will be awarded to projects that emphasize the involvement of students and volunteers in all phases of their development. Visit the Wild Ones website for examples of appropriate projects, complete program guidelines, and application instructions. Qualified applicants must have a site available for the project. The deadline to apply is October 15, 2016.
Target Field Trip Grants
Target Corporation is accepting applications from education professionals for the Target Field Trip Grants program, an annual program designed to introduce K-12 students in the United States to museums, historical sites, and cultural organizations through field trips. Grants of up to $700 will be awarded in January 2017. Grants are available to applicants from the U.S. for field trips taking place between February and December 2017. Funds may be used to cover field trip-related costs such as transportation, ticket fees, food, resource materials, and supplies. Learn more or apply online. The deadline to apply is October 1, 2016.
MAEE Educator Scholarship
The Minnesota Association for Environmental Education has a new scholarship for educators to buy supplies and equipment to enrich their environmental education-based learning environment. The scholarship is an ongoing award, and educators can apply for one scholarship throughout the 2016 year. Scholarship amounts will vary based on availability of funds, but educators can be expected to be awarded $50-$100. Learn more or download the application online.
Envisioning the Future of Environmental Education for Youth
Hennepin County is seeking input from community members to explore how they can best support youth development and environmental education efforts and uncover the benefits of, barriers to, and effective strategies for engaging youth in environmental education. Anyone interested in providing programs or services to youth, preparing them for the future, or protecting the environment is encouraged to attend.
Meetings are scheduled for the following dates and locations. Each meeting will be the same, so you only need to attend one.
  • Thursday, September 15 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, 2522 Marshall St NE in Minneapolis
  • Thursday, September 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center
  • Thursday, September 29 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center
A meal and refreshments will be provided. Registration is free, but please RSVP.
Email Alisa Reckinger or call (612) 348-4788 with any questions.
FREE Green Teacher Webinars
Green Teacher's upcoming webinars are an interactive way for educators to continue learning about key environmental topics. These professional development webinar series feature some of the most important thinkers in the field of environmental education addressing vital and relevant topics. Registration is FREE and teachers can obtain a certificate upon completion. Visit the Green Teacher website to register, or access their archive of past webinars.
  • September 27: Transforming School Food
  • October 25: Introducing Biomimicry, Inspiration and Innovation for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Workforce
  • November 3: Plant-Protecting Superheroes
B.E.E.T.L.E.S, a resource for outdoor learning and science programs with research-based approaches and tools to improve science teaching and learning, published a variety of new resources over the summer, including Ecosystem Literacy and Exploration Guides and other activities for classroom teachers. Visit the website to learn more or explore some of the great resources available on the B.E.E.T.L.E.S site.

Free Climate Justice Seed Package
Rethinking Schools put together a "seed packet" of materials to help people around the country plan climate justice work in their communities, including the story of the successful work of teachers, students, parents, and community activists in Portland, OR, who worked together to pass a district-wide climate literacy policy. The Climate Justice Resource Kit is available online, including a preview PDF of the book A People's Curriculum for the Earth. If you are interested in purchasing A People's Curriculum for the Earth, Rethinking Schools is currently running a back-to-school sale and offering a 25% discount on all books and subscriptions. Use code SCHOOLH16 at checkout.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: BirdSleuth
BirdSleuth is an inquiry-based science curriculum that engages kids in scientific study and real data collection through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s citizen-science projects. BirdSleuth provides educators with kits that:
  • Encourage kids to answer their own questions about nature using the scientific process.
  • Spend time outdoors, connecting with nature by focusing on the fascinating sights, sounds, and behaviors of birds.
  • Motivate kids by the real-world importance of the data they enter online, which scientists use to understand and conserve birds.
BirdSleuth offers a variety of resources, as well as opportunities for in-person training, workshops, and online webinars for all types of educators who are looking for top notch professional development. BirdSleuth even offers a free student publication, BirdSleuth Investigator, written by students, for students and can be downloaded from the website.
Four STEM Tools to Get Kids Learning and Exploring Outdoors
Getting out of the classroom can benefit both teachers and students. Fresh air and fresh perspectives combine to allow for new types of creativity, for play, and for a chance to connect learning to life. The article Four STEM Tools to Get Kids Learning and Exploring Outdoors, from the KQED Mind/Shift blog, offers four STEM apps that will get kids moving in different ways, whether by looking up at the sky, analyzing how their own bodies move, discovering unique objects to photograph, or getting muddy at their local watershed. 
Copyright © 2016 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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