December 2016 EE Update
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ACNW Environmental Education News

January 12, 2017

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. If you want to stay in, you could start an environmental book club, create an environmental campaign, create an environmental art project, or make a plan for sticking to a green resolution. Don’t let the cold stop you – these tips for teaching outside will help you (and your students) get out and enjoy the winter! As the Swedes say, “Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder.” (“There’s no bad weather, only unsuitable clothes.”)
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


A “green school” is environmentally responsible, healthy for staff and students, and provides environmental education. Many schools think that the secret to a successful green school is expensive bells and whistles, such as solar panels, geothermal heating, or low-flow toilets. While these are important, a great first step is to rethink your cleaning routine, and take a look at how the chemicals in cleaning supplies might be impacting the health and safety of staff and students.
The Green Schools National Network published a useful article to help you get started: How to Implement a Green Cleaning Program in Schools. In addition, look for the EPA’s Safer Choice label to find products with ingredients that are safer for schools and communities. The Green Schools Alliance offers the GSA Purchasing Solution, leveraging the collective power of its over 8,000 member schools to save money, source better quality products, and drive down the price of sustainable products to make them more accessible to schools.
The Healthy Schools Campaign’s (HSC) Green Clean Schools web portal is the place for all things green cleaning. It brings together practical information and easy-to-use resources to support green, sustainable school cleaning programs. Resources include a toolkit with posters, webinars, tip sheets, and check lists.
Eco-Schools is an international program that provides a framework to help educators integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum. It’s free to register for the program and utilize the Eco-Schools framework to green your school.
Eco-Schools USA is built on a framework of Seven Steps. The framework offers a step-by-step method to implement your program, but it is a flexible process that allows you to complete each step in the way that best suits your school and situation. The Seven Steps are:
  1. Establish an Eco-Action Team 
  2. Perform an Environmental Review / Audit 
  3. Develop an Eco-Action Plan 
  4. Monitor and Evaluate Progress 
  5. Link to the Educational Curriculum 
  6. Involve the Entire School and Larger Community 
  7. Create an "Eco-Code" or Mission Statement
Once your school has registered and implemented the Seven Steps, you can apply for an Eco-Schools award. There are three levels of the award system: Bronze, Silver, and the highest honor, Green Flag. To learn more or to register, visit the Eco-Schools website.
The Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC) was formed through a partnership between superintendents and environmental organizations. Its mission is to expand environmental education programs for all students to provide robust, real-world learning experiences that bolster STEM learning, civic engagement, and prepares students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workforce. SEEC’s website provides a variety of resources and links to webinars and other events to help superintendents leverage and advance environmental education initiatives in their schools and districts.
The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has a variety of publications and resources to provide targeted information to enhance your knowledge and skills as an environmental educator. One area of focus includes urban environmental education, which varies significantly from EE in natural settings. More than half of students in ACNW-authorized charter schools are located in the Twin Cities, and while there is much greater access to resources than in other areas, it also poses different challenges. Below are a variety of resources, available for free from NAAEE, you might find useful as you build your school’s EE program in an urban setting.
  • Urban EE Toolbox Workshop Resource Manual. This unit is for workshop leaders who want to help educators explore the urban environment with their students. It might be particularly useful for school leaders or EE Coordinators who are tasked with providing professional development for their peers.
  • Urban Environmental Education. Written by environmental educators in the U.S., this e-book advances our understanding of settings, audiences, teaching approaches and goals of urban environmental education. This e-book can be a useful reading for in-service and in-training educators who are interested in urban environmental education. 
  • Urban Environmental Education Narratives. The goal of this e-book is to encourage environmental educators to reflect on their own professional stories and experiences, and to explore the idea of urban environmental education.
  • Essays in Urban Environmental Education. This e-book includes 10 selected chapters from the book “Urban Environmental Education Review,” to be published by Cornell University Press in 2017. This e-book can be used for professional development of environmental educators, in university courses, and for self-learning.

AFSA High School, an ACNW-authorized school in Vadnais Heights, is seeking judges for their upcoming science fairs on January 19 and January 26. If you are able to volunteer, please visit the school’s website to register. (The link is on the front page of the site.) Due to an increase in student numbers, the school is holding two science fair events this year, anticipating about 120-140 projects each session. The school needs about 40 judges for each session. The school will train all judges at the beginning of each session. Hours are from 3:30 to 6:30 or 4:30 to 7:30. If you have questions, please email Becky Meyer, AFSA Executive Director.
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.

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, 2017.

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, 2017.

Hennepin County School Recycling Grants
Funding is available for projects that implement or improve recycling and organics recycling programs in schools. The County’s funding priorities include recycling organic waste and recycling and waste reduction improvement and innovation. Learn more about the school recycling grants online. Applicants are encouraged to contact Kira Berglund, School Recycling Specialist, at (612) 596-1498 or via email to discuss their project before applying. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on February 28, 2017.

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. Applications are due by January 31, 2017.

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 Spring 2017 grant cycle will open on December 18, 2016 and close on February 9, 2017. Visit the website to learn more about past grant recipients, view sample projects, and download a pre-application checklist.

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.
  • February 1: Place-based Education
  • February 20: The Power of Positive, Inspiring Solutions
An Evening with Author Richard Louv
In celebration of Dodge Nature Center’s 50th anniversary, join renowned journalist and author, Richard Louv, as he speaks about nourishing your need for nature. Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” in his book Last Child in The Woods. This work helped launch an international movement to connect children and families to nature. His most recent book, Vitamin N, was published this past year. It expands on the idea that experiences in nature are foundational to learning, development, and wellness in children and adults. Teaching with Lake Superior Conference: Nature as a Resource
This full day conference is designed to offer sessions for PreK-12th grade educators in formal and non-formal settings. The February conference is designed to help educators make the most of natural phenomena and draw resources of the North Woods into meaningful teaching moments. Sessions topics include the science behind lake effect and snow, what’s new in the world of renewable energy and how it works, the unique geology of the Lake Superior region, forest fires, forestry products, and the impacts of climate change on Lake Superior and the people in its watershed.
  • Date: Saturday, February 11 from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Who: PreK-12 educators in formal and non-formal settings
  • Where: Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, MN
  • Cost: $20, which includes registration, parking, admission, print materials, coffee, morning snacks and a box lunch. Vegetarian and gluten free options will be available.
  • Register online, or contact Samantha Smingler for more information.
2017 Citizen Science Association Conference
The 2017 Citizen Science Association Conference will be held May 17-20 in Saint Paul! The conference provides a venue for citizen science researchers, practitioners, community members, and theorists to come together and share knowledge and best practices in the interest of advancing the field of citizen science. Educators engaging in citizen science in their classroom are encouraged to attend and take advantage of the workshops, events, and networking opportunities offered during the conference. More information about registration, hotels, and travel can be found on the conference’s website.

Calendar of Events
Incorporate environmental activities and celebrations throughout the year using a calendar of seasonal topics and environmental holidays.
Resources for Outdoor Classrooms
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services has been using outdoor classrooms at community centers and at wildlife refuges to connect communities to their more wild spaces. Their Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide offers planning tools for creating schoolyard habitat and outdoor classroom projects.
Free systems thinking resources about water
ThinkWater is a national campaign supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help people think and care deeply about water. It does so by applying systems thinking (using habits, tools and concepts to develop an understanding of the interdependent structures of dynamic systems) to existing water education and research efforts and by actively engaging people in a new way about water issues. Learn more and browse free resources including posters, infographics, and activities.

Learning Lab
Learning Lab provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive, project- and STEM-based curriculum that encourages student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action. A product of the U.S. Green Building Council’s The Center for Green Schools, the website is a portal to lesson plans, interactive projects, assessment opportunities, and other multimedia resources in English and Spanish. Lessons are mapped to standards and were created with educators, for educators.
Copyright © 2017 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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