October 2016 EE Update
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ACNW Environmental Education News

October 11, 2016 

Dear Charter School Leaders, EE Coordinators, Teachers and Board Members,
Fall is here! With it comes great opportunity for taking students outside to observe how the natural world changes with the season – leaves falling, temperatures dropping and birds migrating overhead. As fall progresses, you can track the changing leaf colors throughout the state by using the Fall Color Finder on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website. Project Learning Tree has lots of fall activities posted online for learners of all ages, including tips for integrating STEM into environmental education. Minnesota’s many wild places and waterways provide much-needed refuge for songbirds, waterfowl and raptors on their journey, so get outside to see what you can find! Download a bird checklist for your favorite state park.
In other EE news, the Youth Energy Summit (YES) Club at Northern Lights Community School, which works on projects that make NLCS more environmentally friendly, won the Project Impact/Goal Setting & Teamwork Awards in this year’s statewide competition. Learn more about their award-winning project below. In each EE Update, ACNW highlights effective EE practices we’ve observed in ACNW-authorized and other schools. Please let me know if you’ve got something you’d like to share.
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 Northern Lights Community School (NLCS) Youth Energy Summit (YES) Club completed a project analyzing the water quality of the Swan River in Warba, Minnesota. The YES Club is an active organization at NLCS that is environmentally focused and community oriented. The YES Club produced projects that included a community supported agricultural program and a school milk dispenser that helped reduce wasted milk and eliminated milk carton disposal at NLCS. In the 2015-2016 school year, the YES Club developed a report on the water quality of the Swan River.
The local community uses the Swan River, located approximately 1,200 feet east of the school, for recreational purposes. Students studied the local topography near the school. Based on this research, they selected locations for water samples, and collected and analyzed them for temperature, pH, nitrate, phosphate, alkalinity and dissolved oxygen. Students evaluated and recorded sample data in this report. The large scope of the water quality report required the YES Club to be creative with the approach to the layout and design, and to use innovative techniques and processes for analyzing water samples and reporting results. Students’ scientific literacy increased, and the project demonstrated many avenues of potential employment in the field of environmental science. The Club reported its conclusions to the local community, which was grateful to know the Swan River has a healthy river ecosystem. The final report demonstrated that NLCS’s YES Club is capable of producing a product that is useful in the real world beyond high school. This project is a legacy to the community that will be around well after these students have graduated.
For more information about the project or NLCS’s YES Club, contact Science Teacher and EE Coordinator Matt Alleva.
Do you have questions about evaluation or assessment? I will be attending an Evaluation Clinic at the North American Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference on October 19-22. The clinic is an opportunity to ask questions of the experts, contribute relevant experience, and learn from peers in the field facing the same challenges. If you have specific questions about how to measure environmental literacy, the effectiveness of your school’s EE program, or other related questions, please email them to me by 12:00 PM on Friday, October 21 and I will take them to the experts!
In partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center, the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street exhibition “Water/Ways” is coming to the Audubon Center! The exhibit explores the centrality of water in people’s lives, while also serving as a community meeting place to convene conversations about water’s impact on American culture and to engage citizens in exhibits, public programs and educational activities. Contact the Center to schedule your trip, or learn more by visiting the events page on the website.
Are you working in a school in the city or somewhere concrete abounds more than green space? Creating an environmental education program in an urban setting can be challenging. What are your urban EE program goals? Watch this short video, presented by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), outlining trends in urban EE and how you can apply them to your programs. 
Based on diverse urban environmental education goals described in journal articles and books, presenters identify and provide an overview of the following five broad trends of urban environmental education:
  1. City as Classroom
  2. Problem Solving
  3. Environmental Stewardship
  4. Youth and Community Development
  5. City as Social-Ecological System

Climate Generation’s youth program, YEA! MN (Youth Environmental Activists of MN), is a youth-driven program designed to educate and empower students from across the Twin Cities Metro to engage in solutions to climate change. Students gain training and skills on mentorship and leadership, community organizing, policy and activism, and climate literacy, as well as support for action projects at their schools. The YEA! MN network is a place for high school students to build relationships with students at different high schools and empower one another to take action on climate solutions in their schools and local communities.
During the 2016-17 school year, YEA! MN will hold monthly network meetings. Any high school student from the Twin Cities metro area is invited to attend YEA! MN network meetings. There will be a different theme each meeting, and students are encouraged to come to as many as they can. View full descriptions of each monthly meeting and learn more about YEA! MN online. The first meeting, on Wednesday, October 12, focuses on climate literacy and provides an introduction to climate justice.
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 to begin preparing for the 2017 competition!
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.
The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) is seeking participants in a survey about experiences with professional development as part of their work in environmental education. This survey is part of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded project called Expanding Capacity in Environmental Education (EECapacity) led by Cornell University in collaboration with NAAEE. New Knowledge Organization Ltd. is the independent external evaluator and is studying how educators benefit from EE professional development. Your responses will help inform how EE professional development activities support the work of educators like you. The survey will take 10–15 minutes to complete and is anonymous.
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.
Native Plant Education Projects
Wild Ones, a nonprofit environmental education and advocacy organization, is accepting applications from projects that aim to enhance and develop 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.

Nature Works Everywhere K-12 Grants
Nature Works Everywhere will award a $2,000 grant to 55 public district or charter schools to support projects that implement green infrastructure to address local environmental challenges. These include access to healthy food, air quality, heat island effect, climate change, or storm water collection. Young people will work as social innovators to help their communities through project design and implementation. Schools must be located in an urban area and preference will be given to Title 1 schools. Visit the Nature Works Everywhere website for more information or to apply. The application deadline is 5:00 PM on October 31, 2016.

Whole Kids Foundation Honey Bee Hive Program
The Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with the Bee Cause Project, is accepting Letters of Intent for its Honey Bee Grant Program. The annual program offers three grant opportunities to K-12 schools or nonprofit organizations for honey bee hive education programs -- a cash grant, observation hive grant, and traditional hive grant. To be eligible, applicants must be a nonprofit school or nonprofit children's organization that works with K-12 students. Letters of Intent must be received no later than October 31, 2016. Upon review, selected applicants will be invited to submit a full applications by November 15, 2016. See the Whole Kids Foundation website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and application instructions.

Honeybee Conservancy Beekeeping Grants
The Honeybee Conservancy is inviting applications for in-kind grants designed to help nonprofit organizations or schools safely set up, maintain, and observe on-site bee sanctuaries in schools, community gardens, and green spaces across the United States. Through its Sponsor-A-Hive program, the conservancy will award grants in the form of honey or solitary bees, their homes, beekeeping equipment, and information on how to care for the bees. The conservancy also will provide grant recipients with its Sponsor-A-Hive Teacher’s Kit, which includes lesson plans and worksheets for use in teaching students more about their bee home. See the Honeybee Conservancy website for complete program guidelines and application instructions. The application deadline is 5:00 PM on November 11, 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.
FREE Sessions at the Association for Experiential Education Conference
The Association for Experiential Education (AEE) is opening its doors to the public, offering an afternoon of FREE conference attendance at its Annual Conference in Minneapolis on October 27. Opportunities include free workshops (ten to choose from), a career fair for students, and a reception with games, networking and socializing. CEUs are available. Bring Whooping Cranes to your Classroom
On Saturday, October 15 the International Crane Foundation will host a FREE teacher training workshop about Whooping Crane education trunks at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. Refreshments will be served and a special post-workshop field trip to participate in a Crane Watch hosted by the Wisconsin DNR will take place after the training. FREE Systems Thinking Webinar
In this webinar, offered by the Wisconsin Water Thinkers Network, presenters will introduce the primary concepts in systems thinking, present the use of systems thinking in program design and organizational development, and highlight some of the ThinkWater systems thinking tools and resources. Systems thinking is a discipline based on four simple rules—making distinctions and recognizing systems, relationships and perspectives (DSRP). These rules are useful for everyone from the aspiring water learner to the advanced water scientist to understand and solve complex water problems involving environmental, economic, social and political stakes.
  • When: Wednesday, October 26 at 12:00 PM
  • Where: Attend this webinar from your computer, tablet, or smartphone:
  • Fee: FREE 
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.
  • October 25: Introducing Biomimicry, Inspiration and Innovation for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Workforce
  • November 3: Plant-Protecting Superheroes
Children & Nature Network Research Library
Children & Nature Network has launched a Research Library, containing nearly 400 peer-reviewed research articles relevant to the children and nature movement. This expertly curated, free online resource offers robust search functionality to help you find the scientific evidence you need to increase nature access for all children, families and communities. Articles in the library are international in scope, represent a variety of research methodologies, and are drawn from the scientific literature of different disciplines, including public health, urban design, education, psychology, conservation, architecture and more. C&NN curates and summarizes peer-reviewed literature exclusively, and updates the collection regularly. Stay informed of the latest additions to the Research Library by subscribing to the Research Digest.
Think Water Newsletter
“Think Water” is a Smithsonian initiative bringing together exhibitions, educational resources and public programs to foster important national and global conversations and develop innovative civic engagement and citizen-science projects for community and student interaction with rivers and waterways. The inaugural issue of the Think Water newsletter is now available, sharing stories from communities across the U.S. and information about Smithsonian research, collections and exhibitions that focus on water and the resources available to the public through its federal partners.
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, which can be downloaded from the website.
Copyright © 2016 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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