ACNW Environmental Education News

June 16, 2015

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

I hope your summer is off to a great start! This will be the last EE update until school starts up again in September. But don’t fear – we hope to see you at our EE Workshop on August 3 & 4 at the Audubon Center in Sandstone. We heard from many of our schools this spring that teacher capacity is one of the biggest barriers to implementing high quality EE programs, and we want to change that. ACNW expects that each school will send one teacher, and will cover the cost (meals and lodging) of up to two teachers. (See below for additional details and to register.)
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


Based on feedback, suggestions, and input from schools, ACNW is offering a summer environmental education workshop at the Audubon Center in Sandstone in lieu of the EE track at the fall Leaders Retreat. The training will focus on building teacher confidence and capacity as it relates to implementing and measuring your school's EE goals. In addition, we plan to focus on ways to integrate EE in content areas other than science.

Additional information will be forthcoming, but we wanted to provide you the dates and some detail so you can ask teachers to participate.
  • Date: Monday, August 3 (check-in at 11:00 AM) and Tuesday, August 4 (end at 4:00 PM)
  • Where: Audubon Center of the North Woods, Sandstone
  • Who: Teachers in ACNW authorized schools
  • Cost: ACNW expects that each school will send at least one teacher. ACNW will cover the cost (meals and lodging) of up to two teachers. Additional attendees may participate as space allows at $112/person.
  • Pre-registration is required. A registration form can be downloaded from the CSD website.
We are looking forward to a great workshop!
ACNW has updated the EE survey for 2014-15. An Epicenter compliance task for the EE survey appeared in your queue on Friday, May 15. Completed surveys are due by June 30. Schools that are in renewal this year will not be required to complete the EE survey this spring. Please let me know if you have questions about how to complete the survey or what information is requested.
The U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools is looking for teachers to participate in a one-year pilot of a new online curriculum platform. Participants will have free access to materials from August 1, 2015 - July 31, 2016.  Apply today to take part in the one-year pilot program and receive exclusive, free access to a world of resources. Registration is open through June 30.
How can teachers integrate sustainability topics into their curricula? Doug Moss offers some suggestions at, which helps readers understand environmental issues by producing and distributing a weekly EarthTalk Q&A column. He writes, “The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) reports that environmental education teaches children how to learn about and investigate their environment and to make intelligent, informed decisions about sustainability. Furthermore, learning about the environment is multi-disciplinary, so it allows teachers a rare opportunityto integrate different parts of the their curriculum while challenging students to think about the big picture.” Read more: Green Themes Offer Multi-disciplinary Learning Approach.

Rethinking Schools magazine is looking for submissions from schools that show what engaging students' sense of equity and justice looks, sounds, and feels like through the teaching of science. The magazine seeks justice-centered, equity-oriented, story-rich, and critical articles that describe science teaching and curriculum in PK-12 classrooms, community spaces, or PK-12 teacher preparation. For inquiries, email For additional details, review the submission guidelines. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis until August 1.

Digital cameras and smart phones can be a valuable tool for augmenting student journals, documenting change over time, comparing and contrasting, recording cycles and seasons, remembering details, and providing a visual record of student learning. Originally published in Green Teacher magazine, this article explores ways to use photography to engage students in environmental learning across disciplines. 
Developing place-based projects with students can be a scary endeavor – concerns about where to go, what to do, how to keep kids safe, and other big hairy questions can get in the way of a great learning experience. Originally published in Green Teacher magazine, this article explores what it takes to get kids outdoors and into meaningful, inquiry-based outdoor learning experiences.
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.

Target Field Trip Grants
It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target launched the Field Trip Grants program in 2007. As part of the program, Target stores award Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued up to $700. Target accepts grant applications between noon CST Aug. 1 and noon CST Sept. 30. For more information, visit the Target field trip grant website.
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.
Mapping the Journey With GIS
The ‘Mapping the Journey’ workshop will inspire and train participants to use spatial thinking and ArcGIS Online to support experiential, place-based, environmental education. Participants will finish the workshop with inspiration, skills, confidence, and materials to integrate spatial thinking and ArcGIS Online into experiential, place-based work with students – both in the field and in the classroom. To maximize the relevance to teaching, technical and GIS-specific knowledge will be taught in the context of its application to this particular educational approach, although the skills are transferable to other approaches. $200 participant stipends are available. View the workshop flyer. FREE Rivers Institute
Hamline University presents FREE, three day field-based professional development opportunities that inspire, educate, and prepare Grades 3-8 teachers to engage students in STEM disciplines through hands-on, inquiry-based investigations at local watersheds. Two institutes are available this summer:
  • St. Croix River Institute, June 22-24, 2015 (Monday-Wednesday)
  • Mississippi River Institute, July 27-29, 2015 (Monday-Wednesday)
The Rivers Institutes are designed to increase teachers' science content knowledge and investigation skills, and help area educators translate their professional experiences into meaningful, engaging classroom investigations. The focus for the institutes is on elementary and middle school classroom teachers, as well as teams of teachers. All educators are welcome to apply. Visit the Rivers Institute website for more information or to apply.
FREE Project Learning Tree Workshop
Get in-depth, hands-on math, science, ELA, and social studies activities from Project Learning Tree (PLT) to use with K-8 students. Engaging activities use trees, forests, and the outdoors as a window to the world. This event is free, but pre-registration is required. Registration includes a PLT book, lunch, and six CEUs. For more information, contact Laura Duffey via email or at (651) 259-5263.
Our World Speaker Series at the Minnesota Zoo
Are some species of bear headed for extinction? Bears are one of the most threatened mammalian families, with ¾ of species considered globally threatened. Threats vary from shrinking habitat to escalating poaching. Dr. David Garshelis will talk about what which species is being most affected by the burgeoning palm oil industry, which species is heavily poached (and now farmed) to produce a valuable medicine, and what two species are most in trouble due to climate change. Two CEUs are available upon request for each event. Community Air Monitoring Training: A Glimpse into EPA's Air Sensor Toolbox
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a training webinar to share tools used to conduct citizen science projects involving Next Generation Air Monitoring (NGAM) technology and to educate interested groups and individuals on best practices for successful air monitoring projects. Additional resources will be available on EPA's Air Sensor Toolbox webpage. For more information, contact Amanda Kaufman at (919) 541-2388 or Ron Williams at (919) 541-2957.
  • When: Thursday, July 9
  • Time: 9:00-12:30 PM EDT
This is a free event, but pre-registration is required.
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