ACNW Environmental Education News

February 3, 2015

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

The cold, clear Minnesota winter in here, but don’t let the weather keep you inside! There are lots of things to observe and do when you get outside in the winter. Animals might be hard to find, but their traces are much easier to spot – look for tracks, droppings, nests, and marks on trees. Listen for the eerie sounds of ice shifting its position on lakes, and the birds that stick around in winter – chickadees and cardinals are in many parts of Minnesota all winter long. Feel the different textures of snow as they fall, and watch how the wind moves it across the ground. What’re you doing this winter to fight cabin fever?
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

Schools and environmental groups nationwide are focused on reducing the amount of waste produced in schools – and the cost associated with disposing of it. Officials say schools can make an immediate impact by starting with cafeterias, where some estimate the average 500-student school tosses 40 pounds of liquid in milk and juice cartons daily. This article, from District Administration magazine online, offers some great examples of work that schools around the country are doing to promote environmental stewardship and increase environmental literacy.

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 Audubon Center of the North Woods has surplus mammal skulls for sale. Skulls are a great way to teach environmental education concepts in the classroom, such as predator-prey relationships, animal habitat adaptations, and classification. All skulls are in good condition with either all teeth present or missing just a couple teeth. The skulls are clean and not federally protected, so you do not need a salvage permit to have them in your classroom. To purchase, please contact Jeff Tyson at the Audubon Center.

Currently available:
  • Raccoon ($35)
  • Red Fox ($35)
  • Gray Fox ($35)
  • Striped Skunk ($15)
  • Gray Squirrels ($10)
UMD’s Boulder Lake Environmental Learning Center is offering two, FREE two-day workshops in June: Renewable Energy and Mississippi Headwaters Watershed. Space is limited to 20 participants per workshop and fills quickly, so register early. For more information email John Geissler or call (218) 721-3731.

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 enivronmental education and outdoor learning into every day 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. Those who attend 3 or more sessions receive a free set of Jeffers Journals for their classroom.
Next date: Saturday, February 7, 2015
Topic: Creating Significant Life Experience and Reflection in the Outdoors 
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.
During the 2014-2015 school year, ACNW will again be 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.
  3. 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.
Jeffers Foundation School Garden Grants
A Garden 4 Every School” is a program initiated by the Jeffers Foundation to help promote interest in school garden projects in Minnesota. The Jeffers Foundation offers $500.00 grants to 20 schools throughout the state to help with initial start-up costs of a school garden project. Applications are due March 7, 2015, and will be awarded no later than March 20, 2015.
Hennepin County School Recycling Grants
Hennepin County has funding, free container signage, and technical assistance available to help schools start or improve recycling programs. Funding is available for projects that implement or improve recycling and organics recycling programs in schools. Staff is available to give classroom presentations to engage students in hands-on learning about waste generation, the benefits of recycling and the importance of sorting waste correctly at school and everywhere else. School recycling grants are due by 5:00 on February 27. Similar programs are available through Ramsey County and throughout the state.
Green Partners Environmental Education Program
Hennepin County provides funding and support to organizations to implement projects that empower residents to reduce waste, increase recycling, reduce toxicity, conserve energy and protect water quality. The Green Partners Program consists of three groups with varying levels of support and requirements: Branch, Root, and Seed. Participants in the Seed group receive free field trip transportation to an approved destination and activity supplies. To learn more or apply, email Patience Caso or call at (612) 348-9352.
2015 Community POWER Grant Round
The Community POWER team is looking for applicants to propose new and innovative ways to educate and actively engage residents in the Twin Cities to change their behavior to reduce waste. Non-profit organizations and schools are eligible to apply. The deadline to apply is March 27, 2015. There are two types of grants available – traditional grants in amounts up to $12,000, and mini grants up to $5,000. Learn more about the grant application process or attend an informational meeting on Thursday, February 26.
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.
Our World Speaker Series at the Minnesota Zoo
Minnesota is home to a lot of amazing species of birds. Many are in decline, but many species are also increasing or maintaining stable populations. Dr. Jerry Niemi will talk about the population and distribution status of birds, and share information summarized from 40 years of gathering data in Minnesota. Two CEUs are available upon request for each event.  
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 bioaccumulation.  
Schoolyard Gardens Conference
Whether you’re a beginner or a schoolyard veteran, join the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to learn innovative strategies for building, sustaining, and engaging everyone in a thriving schoolyard garden.
Free Resources for Outdoor Science Schools
B.E.E.T.L.E.S. (Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning, Expertise and Sharing), a project of the Lawrence Hall of Science, helps residential outdoor science schools take full advantage of the rich opportunities for science learning in the outdoors. B.E.E.T.L.E.S. resources encourage students and teachers to “slow down, get down, and look around,” in order to develop a relationship with nature and become curious about natural mysteries.
Environmental Education Resources
A wide variety of free environmental education resources, project support, and funding is available to organizations working with residents in Hennepin County, and can be used by teachers and learners throughout the state. Available options include toolkits, learning trunks and event displays, environmental literature, newsletter articles and social media posts, ideas for tours and field trips, guest speakers, and videos.

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 is the third installation in an innovative series connecting art with relevant issues in everyday life. 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 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.
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 Curricula Resources
The Will Steger Foundation climate change and energy curriculum for students in Grades 3-12 is available for free online.  Aligned with national standards, state standards (where relevant) and the climate literacy principles, each curriculum has been reviewed by educational organizations and partners.
Free Classroom Materials for Educators
The Will Steger Foundation offers classroom kits to support its climate change and energy curricula. These kits are free for Twin Cities area educators to borrow for up to three weeks. Kits include Explore Minnesota’s Biomes, What Does the Data Show?, and Watt Meters. Visit the Will Steger Foundation website to learn more or to request a kit.
TOLBY (Turn Off Lights Behind You) is the friendly energy mascot that encourages students to conserve energy. The Minnesota Energy Challenge offers FREE resources to bring TOLBY into schools and classrooms, including presentations and e-learning. Visit the Minnesota Energy Challenge website to learn more or to request a presentation or other resources.
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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