ACNW Environmental Education News

March 3, 2015

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

It’s March! And what an exciting month it is. If you’ve been watching, things have been changing all winter long, and it really ramps up now. There’s something new to see almost every single day: cracks in the ice, melting snow, mating behaviors, and even some early migrators! (Keep an eye on eBird and BirdCast for news about who’s moving and what factors impact their migration.) Even with these longer days, it can be hard to keep from getting antsy. Get outside and explore to keep your spring fever at bay!
In addition, March is when the sap begins to run! What causes the sap of maple trees to flow in the spring? During warm periods when temperatures rise above freezing (usually during the day), pressure develops in the tree. This pressure causes the sap to flow out of the tree through a wound or tap hole. During cooler periods when temperatures fall below freezing (usually at night), suction develops, drawing water into the tree through the roots. This replenishes the sap in the tree, allowing it to flow again when it’s above freezing. Warm days and cold nights are key to the maple syrup that makes pancakes, oatmeal, and even ice cream that much more delicious! Visit the sugar bush at the Audubon Center this spring to learn how to identify a maple tree, tap a tree, hang a bucket, collect the sap, and see how sap is turned into maple syrup.
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


Stephen Ritz is a teacher in New York’s South Bronx district where he began a pioneering project to farm plants and vegetables indoors at Discovery High School. The school’s so-called “edible walls” gave birth to the Green Bronx Machine, a project that helps other schools in the US start their own agricultural programs to teach children healthy eating, environmental awareness and life skills. Learn more about the program in this profile from The Guardian: Gardening Can Help Keep Kids in School.

Celebrate Aldo Leopold Weekend March 7-8, 2015! This program is a model for bringing together community around Aldo Leopold's idea of a land ethic. There are lots of events happening throughout Minnesota, and in your classroom you may want to screen Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time, exploring the life and legacy of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold, read and discuss excerpts from A Sand County Almanac, or just get outside and explore! The Aldo Leopold Foundation offers handouts, discussion guides, lesson plans, and links to other resources to help you and your students explore Aldo’s life and work.
Printed on 100% post-consumer waste, chlorine-free paper, YES! Magazine empowers people with the vision and tools to create a healthy planet and vibrant communities. Thanks to the generosity of YES! Magazine donors, teachers and librarians can apply for a free one-year introductory magazine subscription. The magazine also overs a thematic, online newsletter for free each month that offers curricula, lesson plans, and inspiring stories.

Join a dedicated group of educators focused on integrating and embedding Environmental Education and Outdoor Instruction 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, March 7, 2015
Topic: Nature’s Notebook Workshop
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.
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 the International Day of Forests to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests. The theme of the 2015 International Day of Forests (IDF) is Forests | Climate | Change, chosen purposely to highlight the ways in which forests and climate change are linked, and to rally global support for greater action and change. How will you and your school celebrate? Read The Lorax (Dr. Seuss’s birthday is in March, after all), plant a tree, discover the journey from tree to paper, or explore the many ways that trees impact your classroom, from the wood in the desks to the air you breathe. 
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)

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.
During the 2014-2015 school year, 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.
  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.
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 and contact Anita Urvina Davis, Community POWER Grant Program Manager, at or (651) 222-7227.
Captain Planet Foundation
The Captain Planet Foundation is accepting applications from schools and nonprofit organizations for its Ecotech Grant program, a new initiative to support projects that motivate children through the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields while challenging  them to reimagine the way their world can be. Sixteen grants of $2,500 each will be awarded to schools and nonprofit organizations in support of projects that use innovation, nature-based design, or technology to address local environmental problems. Proposals are due on or before April 30, 2015.
Environmental Grants and Support
Patagonia is accepting proposals of up to $12,000 to support small, grassroots, activist organizations with provocative direct-action agendas, working on multi-pronged campaigns to preserve and protect our environment. Proposals are due April 30, 2015.
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.
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.
Free Webinar: Introducing Carton Recycling into a School Program. The Process, Challenges and Successes in Minnesota schools 
The Recycling Association of Minnesota (RAM) and the Carton Council will partner in presenting a 60-minute webinar to give school districts in Minnesota the tools they need to start or expand their cafeteria recycling programs. The webinar will also provide information to the local recycling facilities that may be working with these schools. For further information call (651) 641-4560, or email
  • When: March 23, 2015
  • Time: 1:00-2:30 PM
  • This is a free webinar, but pre-registration is required. 
The High Price of Cheap Groundwater: Are We Flushing Our Future Downstream? 
In recent years many Minnesota communities have come to face something they never expected: declining groundwater supplies. The evening's presenters will summarize a wealth of information on groundwater issues related to local watersheds, as well as various land-use, storm water management, and conservation approaches to help us achieve a more sustainable water future.  Our World Speaker Series at the Minnesota Zoo
Minnesota is rich with water, but will it be clean enough, and abundant enough, for the next generation? Dr. Deborah L. Swackhamer will talk about what challenges Minnesota faces, what’s being done now, and what needs to happen for the future of Minnesota's water resources. 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 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.
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 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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