ACNW Environmental Education News

February 2, 2016

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

Woodchucks (also known as groundhogs) are found throughout Minnesota in both rural and urban areas. At this time of year, most of them have been in hibernation since late October and will stay that way until late February or early March. (They’re certainly not out predicting the weather!) Although they’re often a nuisance to gardeners, woodchucks provide food for coyotes, foxes, weasels, badgers, hawks, and eagles. Their abandoned burrows provide habitat for amphibians, reptiles, and other rodents. Learn more about our wild neighbors 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.
In addition, Noble Academy has shared highlights from their environmental education program. Noble Academy was not founded with an environmental mission but has sought to implement ACNW’s mission match requirement with fidelity. Beginning this month, ACNW will highlight effective EE practices we’ve observed in ACNW-authorized schools in order to provide opportunities for schools to connect and learn from one another, as well as feature the good work of schools that are increasing 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


Noble Academy is a K-8 charter school located in Brooklyn Park that was founded in 2007. The school enrolls 629 students. Currently, 77% of the student population qualifies for free and reduced lunch, 69% of the student population is English Learners (EL), 85% of the student population is of Asian heritage and 14% of the student population is of African American heritage.
The basis for forming the school was community demand for a school tailored to meet the needs of a bilingual community that would offer Hmong language development and culture to all students. Noble Academy’s mission is to provide high quality, relevant and multi-cultural education to its student population through embedding the mission and vision into the day-to-day delivery of the school curriculum. The cornerstones of the school’s philosophy include the following:
  • A rigorous educational program that addresses core content areas and standards mandated by the State of Minnesota in the areas of reading, written language, mathematics, science and social studies;
  • Hmong heritage language and culture;
  • Responsive classroom and social skill development; and
  • State-of-the-art technology.
Noble Academy embraces Audubon Center of the North Woods’ mission, “to instill a connection and commitment to the environment in people of all communities through experiential learning.” Noble Academy is working toward mission match through establishing clear goals and expectations for its staff and providing them with staff development opportunities that have helped teachers infuse environmental education into our school-wide curriculum. Noble has also developed accountability systems (i.e., Individual Learning Plans, or ILP) that provide the school with the means for measuring goal attainment. During the current school year, students and staff have been actively engaged in achieving the Noble's environmental goals. Each student’s ILP includes an environmental goal and examples of specific student and teacher engagement activities that include the following:
  • Learning to separate organic materials after breakfast and lunch;
  • Equipping our  cafeteria with reusable plates and silverware;
  • Developing classroom systems to reuse paper;
  • Limiting the amount of paper that can be copied; and
  • Providing each student with a small white board as opposed to using paper.
Noble's school-wide goal of providing relevant education is partially achieved through embedding environmental education into other subject areas, especially Science and morning meetings, an essential component of our Responsive Classroom approach to forming learning communities within each classroom. Finally, Noble's new state-of-the art school building was designed to be eco-friendly and includes hand dryers, lights that automatically turn on and off based on use, and Smart Boards that limit the use of paper required for instructional purposes.
Kiribati (pronounced KEER-ə-bahss) and many other small developing countries are often unknown to most people and therefore ignored in the greater climate change discussions. Educator Chris Brown is offering, at no charge, to come to your school or classroom and present a two-hour interactive, standards-based lesson focused on Kiribati and climate change refugees. This will not only help students become aware of the plight of countries such as Kiribati, but also help develop a greater understanding of the implications climate change has on all of us.
This program is offered to Grades 4-12 and is adapted depending on the grade level(s), number of students, English levels, etc. of the students. Please contact Chris via email to learn more or schedule a time for him to visit your school.
The BEETLES Project has launched a new website, full of free resources to help teachers implement environmental education in their classrooms. All BEETLES resources are based on current research and understandings about how people learn, and tested by dozens of programs in diverse settings all over the country. BEETLES is one of many programs at the Lawrence Hall of Science, a public science center at the University of California at Berkeley. (Many ACNW-authorized schools use FOSS Kits, another resource created by the Lawrence Hall of Science.)
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 require 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.
This fall, Discovery Elementary School opened in Arlington, Virginia. The school is in a net-zero energy building, meaning the amount of energy produced by onsite renewable sources exceeds the amount of energy used on campus. By incorporating energy conserving measures as well as clean energy producing systems, such as solar panels, the school was able to become one of only four K-12 net-zero energy schools. This profile highlights the school’s sustainable design features and financial benefits of an energy efficient school.
The ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign is a nationwide effort to assist and recognize organizations for reducing the energy consumed by their information technology equipment. The website provides six ways to reduce the IT energy costs at your school, and free phone and email consultations to help schools contemplating IT energy efficiency measures. In addition, Green Schools National Network recently featured the article, Schools Save Money with Greener IT.

This useful waste reduction strategies website, presented by California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), provides tips, ideas, suggestions, and resources for school districts looking to reduce waste across the board – from administration to personnel. CalRecyle also offers tips for schools looking to implement zero-waste lunch programs. The information presented can be applied in schools throughout the U.S.
White Roofs for Green Schools is working to promote a more energy efficient rooftop. A white roof is a rooftop that has been painted with a solar reflective white coating. This coating reflects up to 90% of sunlight as opposed to traditional black rooftops which reflect only 20%. As a result, a white roof can keep a building cooler, especially in the summer, thus reducing the demand for air conditioning. According to the White Roof Project, white roofs have the potential to reduce summer energy use by 10-40%, saving money and preventing pollution in all climates, not just sunny ones.
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.
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 26, 2016.

Ecotech Grants
The Captain Planet Foundation is accepting applications from schools and nonprofits for its Ecotech Grant program. Twenty grants of $2,500 each will be awarded to schools or nonprofit organizations for projects that use innovation, nature-based design or technology to address environmental problems in their communities. Learn more or apply online. The deadline to apply is March 15.

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.

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
  • For more information or to register, contact Laura Duffey at (651) 259-5263 or by email with your name, email, phone number, school or organization, grade level, and dietary restrictions
  • Registration is capped at 25 participants.
FREE Green Teacher Winter Webinars
Green Teacher's upcoming webinars are an interactive way for educators to continue learning about key environmental topics. This 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.

Action for Healthy Kids Webinars
Action for Healthy Kids is offering a variety of webinars this winter and spring to help you create a healthy school. Sample webinar topics include:
  • Growing Your School Garden
  • Creating Walk and Bike to School Programs that Engage Kids and Families
  • Physical Activity in Schools
Summer Institute for Climate Change
Climate Generation (formerly the Will Steger Foundation) is hosting its 11th annual Summer Institute for teachers. This year will focus on a new middle school curriculum resource tied to Next Generation Science Standards: Next Generation Climate. Hear from experts in climate science, participate in hands-on activities, and learn from other educators who have been implementing climate change education.
  • When: June 21-24, 2016
  • Where: Macalester College, Saint Paul
  • Fee: $150 early bird rate (includes breakfast and lunch)
  • Register online

Energy Hog Challenge Teacher’s Guide
Energy Hog is an energy efficiency campaign developed by the Ad Council and run by the Alliance to Save Energy.  This teacher’s guide includes a series of classroom activities that guide students through lessons about different sources of energy, how we use energy at home, and actions they can take to save energy.
EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades 
The EPA’s Energy Savings Plus Health:  Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for School Building Upgrades is designed to help K-12 stakeholders navigate the construction and energy retrofit process using an integrated approach and with IAQ, occupant health, and safety protections in mind. The Guide includes 23 IAQ priority issues and related assessment protocols, recommended and expanded actions, and resources and tools for project planning and communication.
Scholastic’s Every Kid in a Park
Scholastic has developed a set of three learning activities to introduce fourth grade students to our nation’s natural and historical resources:  1) Exploring Federal Lands and Waters; 2) Environmental Stewardship; and 3) Citizen Science.  Each learning activity includes lesson plans, activity sheets, and resource sheets.  The lessons were developed to complement the federal Every Kid in a Park Initiative.
Copyright © 2016 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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