ACNW Environmental Education News

October 6, 2015

October is National Farm to School Month. Are you looking for ways to bring fresh produce to your school lunchroom, or need a home for food waste after meals? The University of Minnesota Extension Farm to School program connects schools with fresh, local food grown or raised by family farmers, as well as resources to engage students, training, and hands-on nutrition education for students. You can also send an email to to receive weekly updates from the Great Lakes chapter of the National Farm to School Network or to contact the Minnesota State Lead, Stephanie Heim.
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

This summer, a few schools have asked if we will visit during teacher professional development to provide context for implementing the school’s EE goals. The answer is yes; we are willing to do this either before school starts or as ongoing PD throughout the school year. 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 request 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.
Harborside Academy is a charter school in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a joint focus on character and academics. The school is guided by the Expeditionary Learning (EL) model, which combines rigorous academic content and real world projects with active learning and community service. Learn more about one of the learning expeditions at the school, Food and Justice for All, which creates awareness around food security issues, especially in Kenosha and Kenosha County, and connects students to the land where their food comes from.
Recommended by Mary Bohning of the Food and Justice for All program at Harborside Academy, the Got Dirt? Garden Toolkit was developed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Nutrition and Physical Activity program to provide simple, step-by-step plans for starting a school garden. The related Got Veggies? Curriculum is a garden-based nutrition education curriculum developed with the goal of getting children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. The curriculum features seven full lesson plans, a series of shorter garden-based activities, recipes, and tips for cooking and eating from the garden.
Science House, the Science Museum of Minnesota's resource center for teachers, is open for the 2015-2016 school year. This resource features an inventory of STEM teaching tools, materials to check out for use in your classroom, opportunities to collaborate with other educators, and access to SMM’s professional development staff. Contact the Museum to learn more: (651) 221-4563 or
The Minnesota Historical Society offers free admission to any museum or historic site for Minnesota sixth graders. Although not valid for field trips, this is a great opportunity for sixth graders to explore natural history. Complete the online form to request passes: Sixth Grade Minnesota History Pass.
The 2015 Earth Science Week will be celebrated October 11-17. "Visualizing Earth Systems," the theme of Earth Science Week 2015, explores what it means to see our planet through eyes informed by the geosciences. Since October 1998, the American Geosciences Institute has organized this national and international event to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Earth Sciences and to encourage stewardship of the Earth. Visit the Earth Science Week website for educational resources and classroom activities.
Does your school have a green purchasing policy in place? Green purchasing policies take into account the environment and health when making buying decisions for the entire school (or district). They can save schools money while protecting the health of students and staff. What’s not to love? More information, and sample policies, can be found on the Green Schools Initiative website.

Hennepin County offers free resources to expand your recycling habit at home and in school, including recycling labels, a bag for collecting recyclables, and a recycling guide, which can be ordered online. Want to spread the word? You can download a newsletter article, social media posts, images, and a recycling tips factsheet to help you pass it forward.
Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation Toolbox for Education Grants
The Lowe's Charitable and Education Foundation has announced the opening of its Fall 2015 Toolbox for Education program, which supports projects that encourage parent involvement in local schools and build stronger community spirit. One-year grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded in support of projects that have a permanent impact on a school community such as facility enhancement (indoor or outdoor) or landscaping/clean-up projects. Toolbox grants also can be used as part of a large-scale project like a playground as long as the funds are used to complete a phase of the project that can be completed within twelve months of the award. The deadline for submitting applications for this grant cycle is October 16, 2015.
Nature Conservancy School Garden Grant
The Nature Conservancy is working to promote environmental education through the creation of Nature Works Everywhere gardens. Nature Works Everywhere gardens are designed to connect students to a global challenge – to protect the natural systems that produce our food, water, clean air, and energy. Grants of up to $2,000 will be awarded to support the building, amendment, or revitalization of gardens on school campuses, with preference given to rain, pollinator, native habitat, and other natural infrastructure projects. Food gardens will also be funded. Apply online by October 28, 2015.
Whole Kids Foundation School Garden Grant
The Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with FoodCorps, is accepting applications for its School Garden Grant Program. The program provides up to $2,000 to support school garden projects to help students learn about complex topics such as nutrition and health, sustainability and conservation, food systems, and community awareness. Projects may be at any stage of development (planning, construction, or operation). Priority will be given to both limited-resource communities and to projects that demonstrate strong buy-in from stakeholders, as well as the financial sustainability of the project. The application closes on October 31, 2015.
Farm to School Grant Program
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is offering grants through the Farm to School Program of up to $50,000 to support Minnesota school districts to purchase, prepare and serve more Minnesota grown and raised food. Eligible projects include a feasibility study or equipment purchases and physical improvements. Review the RFP and apply online. Proposals must be received no later than 4:00 PM on November 4, 2015.
Hennepin County Green Partners Grants
Hennepin County provides funding and support to organizations to implement projects that empower residents to reduce waste, increase recycling, reduce hazardous waste, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and protect air and water quality. The Green Partners program consists of three groups with varying levels of support and requirements, including free transportation and activity supplies. Groups are strongly encouraged to contact the Green Partners program manager, Patience Caso at (612) 348-9352, for assistance, including feedback on project ideas and help with their proposal. Visit for project ideas. Applications are due by 5:00 PM on November 6, 2015.
More School Garden Grants
The Jeffers Foundation has compiled a list of grants that are available to help you start or maintain a school garden. They have identified 13 opportunities with deadlines from now through early January.
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.
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: Having Fun with Healthy Classroom Parties 
Join Action for Healthy Kids for a monthly Wellness Wednesday Webinar to learn more about creating healthy classroom parties. The webinar will offer various ideas and resources for parents, teachers, and students to incorporate as part of any classroom celebration, as well as looking at examples of successful classroom parties for holidays, birthdays, or for any school celebration. This webinar is free, but pre-registration is required.
TPT Documentary: Minnesota Stories in a Changing Climate
Tune into Twin Cities Public Television at 7:00 PM on October 11 for the premier of Minnesota Stories in A Changing Climate. This documentary shares six stories from Minnesotans experiencing climate change and provides context from climate experts. The full production and story segments will be posted to the Climate Generation website the following week. A discussion guide accompanies the 60 minute program.
FREE Screening of Humpback Whales Documentary
Attending the Minnesota Educator Academy conference at RiverCentre on October 15? Get a head start on field trip planning and round out your day of learning with a complimentary screening of Humpback Whales at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Stop by the SMM booth in the conference exhibit hall to claim a free ticket to the 3:00 PM showing.
2015 Living Schoolyards Activity Guide
Learn more about place-based learning and discover new strategies for getting kids outside with the 2015 Living Schoolyards Activity Guide, which was developed by Green Schoolyards America. The guide includes 40+ activities for all grade levels and covers a range of themes such as Art, Recreation, Health, Wildlife Habitat, Watershed Stewardship, Schoolyard Agriculture, Energy and Climate, Thoughtful Use of Materials, and Place-Based Understanding.
Plum Landing
Plum Landing is an environmental science project developed by WGBH Boston that helps children ages 6-9 develop a love for, and connection to, nature and the environment. The Plum Landing website features games, apps, videos, and hands-on science activities for formal and informal educators that align to the Next Generation Science Standards.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
The Minnesota DNR also has many programs and resources available via its website, including teacher trainings, curriculum, and ideas for getting outside. They have great ideas for getting kids outside and offers an I Can… series that, while designed for families, can help you become more confident taking kids out to adventure.
County Environmental Education Resources
Check with your county for a wide variety of environmental education resources, project support, or funding. Many counties have free toolkits available for download, learning trunks and event displays to loan, environmental literature, newsletter articles and social media posts, ideas for tours and field trips, guest speakers, and videos. Some examples include Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Anoka County, Dakota County, Stearns County, and Carver County.
Master Recyclers/Composters
Some counties are beginning to implement Master Recycler/Composter Programs. Master Recycler/Composters are trained on waste prevention, recycling and composting through an extensive six-week course that features industry experts and field trips. After completing the training, participants commit to volunteer 30 hours, which could including helping you design and implement waste reduction projects or creating resources for your classroom. Contact your county’s Environmental Services Department, UMN Extension Office, or Soil and Water Conservation District to learn more.
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Department, All rights reserved.

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