ACNW Environmental Education News

December 2, 2014 

Dear Charter School Leaders, EE Coordinators, Teachers, and Board Members,
Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2014 ACNW Charter School Leaders Retreat last month! We learned new ways to teach in, with, and about the environment across disciplines, as well as exploring the natural environment through adventure activities. We want to keep the conversation going, so please join us on Friday, January 16 from 10:00-3:00 at the Audubon Center (in Sandstone) for an environmental literacy work session. Details about this event, and other learning opportunities, are below.

As a reminder, if you plan to apply for EE mission match funds, you must submit the application at least two weeks before the event, field trip, or presentation. Purchases must be pre-approved. If you do not submit an application for pre-approval, the applications will be returned, and you can reapply for a different activity or purchase.
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


Please join us on Friday, January 16 from 10:00-3:00 at the Audubon Center (in Sandstone) for an environmental literacy work session. Throughout the course of the day, we will seek to define environmental literacy, identify its components, and develop ways to measure and assess this important, though complex, domain. CEUs are available, and lunch will be provided.
If you are interested in participating, please RSVP to Erin by Friday, January 9.
In addition, the Audubon Center will be offering Flying WILD curriculum training for teachers on Saturday, January 17. Flying WILD offers a whole-school approach to environmental education using birds as the focus. Additional details will be forthcoming (keep an eye on ACNW’s Calendar of Events for registration information), but accommodations at the Center will be available for participants who attend both the work session and teacher training.

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.

Thanks to those of you who participated in the 2014 ACNW Leaders Retreat! Participants had several opportunities to increase their own environmental literacy, explore resources to implement in their classrooms and schools, and learn ways in which other school leaders and teachers are implementing EE. Resources from the conference (including presentations, handouts, and links) are available at the 2014 ACNW Leaders Retreat Website.

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 environmental education and outdoor learning into everyday 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. This group typically meets the first Saturday of each month, although not in December.
Next date:       Saturday, January 10, 2015
Topic:              Reading Your Winter Landscape
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.

Walmart Foundation Community Grant Program
The Walmart Foundation is accepting applications through its Community Grant Program. Through the program, grants of up to $2,500 will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations within the service area of individual Walmart stores in support of initiatives in the areas of hunger relief and healthy eating, sustainability, women's economic empowerment, and/or career opportunities. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2014.
EE Mission Match Funds
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.
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.
Be recognized for your school’s efforts at being green! Apply for the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Award. This award honors public and private early childhood, elementary, middle, and high schools and school districts that are exemplary in all three of the following areas:
  • Reducing environmental impact;
  • Improving health and wellness; and
  • Providing effective environmental education.
The application for Minnesota schools and local information is available from John Olson, MDE Science Specialist. There will be information and assistance webinar on:
  • Tuesday, December 2, 3:30-4:30 PM.
Contact John Olson for login details.
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.

Screening of Antarctica: On The Edge
Though big, remote and covered in ice, Antarctica may not seem fragile. But parts of the continent and its wildlife are at great risk today from climate change. This film offers a unique perspective on the humans and wildlife that call it home, and their struggle to adapt to rising sea and air temperatures. Filmed and directed by Jon Bowermaster, with support from Gary Smaby, Antarctica, On the Edge (USA, 2014, 40 minutes) will host a private screening in Minnesota.
  • When: Wednesday December 3 
  • Time: 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Where: St. Anthony Main Theater (Minneapolis)
  • Please RSVP by calling the Will Steger Foundation at (612) 278-7147.
Introductory Environmental Education Teacher Training Webinar
Save the date for FREE training for elementary and middle school teachers on in-classroom climate and energy curriculum developed by KidWind, the Will Steger Foundation, and the Bakken Museum. Earn CEUs and leave with three in-classroom lessons. Great Lakes Aquarium Science Institute for Educators
This season includes four, 2-hour workshops showcasing inquiry-based activities tying into the Next Generation Science Standards Crosscutting Concepts. New this year are two, 6-hour field days engaging with local scientists to practice collecting scientific data and designing field excursions with your students. Each workshop showcases an interdisciplinary hands-on lesson plan and teaching tools. Our World Speaker Series at the Minnesota Zoo
Ron Schara, and his trusted black lab, Raven, began sharing stories of the outdoor lifestyle back in 1995. Ron will be sharing some of his more memorable stories from his travels and experiences throughout Minnesota, highlighting the fascinating critters that call Minnesota home. Two CEUs are available upon request for each event. Climate Change Impacts in the Midwest (Webinar)
Join educators from across the Midwest as they interact in a live NASA video conference. The National Climate Assessment, released in May 2014, summarizes the impacts of climate change in the United States, touching on many disciplines. Explore the document with Dr. Fred Lipschultz from the U.S. Global Change Research Project, and learn about related educator resources from the Will Steger Foundation. For more information, call Kristen at (612) 278-7147
  • When: Thursday, December 11
  • Time: 3:15-4:45 PM
  • Where: Minnesota Department of Education, Conference Center A, Room 14
  • This is a free event, but pre-registration is required.
Nature at Night (Fergus Falls)
Learn about the native wildlife of Minnesota after the sun goes down. Appropriate for all ages Dress for an outdoor adventure. Night Sky of the North Woods (Soudan)
After a short presentation, participants can view the celestial sights through provided telescope and binoculars. Please use the winter (service) entrance and park by the visitor center. Be sure to dress for being outside. Bad weather will cause this program to be canceled. For more information, contact James at (218) 753-2245 or
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. 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 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 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.
Copyright © 2014 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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