Missouri Environmental Education News: January 2024Welcome to the lastest edition of MEEA's Newsletter
Table of Contents
- Feature Article
- Lesson Resources
- Annual Conference & Professional Development
- Featured Events, Grants, Workshops & Webinars
- JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
- Green Schools Corner
- Missouri Nature Phenomena This Month
- News from the Field
Brrrrr, right? Although I’m cold-natured and admit that I like warmer, sunnier weather, I’m also grateful that winter actually feels like winter is supposed to here in south-central MO!
January is not just about the winter weather, but also a time to reflect on the past year and move forward into new possibilities. Many of us make resolutions…I certainly do! Every year I resolve to generally do things that will make me happier and healthier–make me a better person, if you will. And I make a plan that I can actually see taking shape, one step at a time. I used to think that my planning obsession was geeky (which it sort of is) and unnecessary, but I now embrace my planning “gene” and roll with it!
Planning as a tool helps us move forward so we don’t live in the past or languish in a state of torpor. It is the tool that keeps us on track and hones our purpose. It’s important for personal advancement for sure, but critical for organizations such as MEEA. And to be successful, a planner needs to be strategic, measured, and specific in order to see objectives take shape. That’s where we at MEEA are in this moment, and I’m so proud and excited about the objectives we will be working to complete over the next year! Our 2023-2025 Strategic Plan has been well-oiled and tempered in the last few months by our fabulous working Board of Directors, and we are diving in to serve our members and our learners across the state with so many great projects and collaborations.
This month’s Feature Article will detail some specific examples of what we are setting out to do in 2024! You may notice that one of our strategic goals (Funding) is included in all of the examples. Why? Well, it allows us to meet all of our other goals (staffing, outreach, services, collaborations, youth opportunities, etc) and it allows our nonprofit to progress sustainably (i.e. pay the bills and our staff!). We are an educational organization with important work to do across our great state, and that work takes expertise, time and a budget that keeps our work relevant and afloat. We so appreciate our members, sponsors, donors, and volunteers who help us thrive!
(to help us out and for more info on membership, donations and volunteering, see: meea.org/get-involved)
All the best, and stay warm!
Jamin Bray, MEEA Co-Director
Feature Article: A New Year’s Resolution–Be Strategic
Article, photos and lesson ideas submitted by:
MEEA C0-Director, Salem, MO
I’ve been thinking it’s appropriate for us to focus on our MEEA Strategic Plan as a New Year’s resolution! It might be helpful to summarize the following, and focus especially on the “Why?” of each category.
Why is Funding critical? It allows us to meet all of our other goals (staffing, outreach, services, collaborations, youth opportunities) and it allows our nonprofit to progress sustainably.
Why is Increased Staffing critical? One person can’t do everything to manage a statewide organization, our BOD is a working board but they are volunteers, and what we do requires expertise, experience and skills.
Why are Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (JEDIA) critical? MEEA needs to serve everyone and represent everyone in the work that we do, all citizens are impacted by environmental issues, and all citizens have the right to be educated about the environment.
Why are Member Services and Engagement critical? Members are the driving force of our organization (ex: dues, volunteers, presenters, hosts, etc), members are statewide (and region-wide) with valuable and diverse perspectives, and members provide a platform for a domino effect of environmental education (students, teachers, nonformal educators, nonprofit staff, corporate representatives, consultants, etc).
Why is Strategic Collaboration critical? One organization can’t do everything, our mission is focused and can overlap with, complement and support other organizations doing similar work, environmental education relates to multiple issues that require expertise and collaborations from others, having diverse and multiple partners helps us connect members and citizens at large throughout the state with the services they need, and having multiple collaborators helps us seek, justify and even qualify for funding.
Why is Youth Engagement critical? EE and the environment we depend upon needs a constant renewal of young people to keep the efforts moving forward, younger citizens deserve a natural world that is healthy and provides for their future, and youth have relevant voices and fresh ideas that add value to what we do.
Focusing on our goals and objectives strategically has helped us start the year with so many important projects, events, services and collaborations! Here are just a few:
- We have secured two grants from regional Solid Waste Management Districts to offer composting professional development in mid- and south-central Missouri rural school districts (part of both our Funding and JEDIA statewide outreach goals).
- We have been approved for funding from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) for our Young Environmental Leaders (YEL) membership support and to provide PD to rural educators on how to connect youth with civics-oriented environmental action (part of both our Funding and Youth Engagement goals)
- We have been included in a project with funding from the EPA (through our NAAEE affiliate network) to support our new online certification eeCourses (part of our Funding, Member Services & Engagement, and Strategic Collaboration goals).
We still have some work to do to increase our staffing capacity, but until then, we’ll keep moving forward one step at a time. There are so many problems and challenges that environmental education can help solve, and if we stay on track and stay strategic, the sky is the limit on what we will continue to provide toward that end!
Helping Students Make New Year’s Resolutions:
A Step-by-Step Plan
**Bonus for the young learners! Take a look at this little book I found recently related to planning for the new year, entitled: Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution. (written by Pat Miller and Illustrated by Kathi Ember)
You might guess that the squirrel would focus on gathering as many nuts as possible (which seems to be what the ever-growing population of squirrels in our yard has been doing!). But, actually, after visiting all of her animal friends and sharing their hopes for the future, this particular squirrel resolves to help someone every day–what a nice plan! A fun read for grade levels PreK-3. Also, here’s a site with lesson plans for this book–Cool!! jodidurgin.com/squirrels-new-years-resolution-activities-lesson-plans
Because students will have different kinds of goals, they will need different approaches to this tracking. Some will have the kind that require daily changes, like flossing every day or spending time each day with a pet. For a goal like that, they could use a daily record like this one, where they record “scores” they define themselves.
Want This Lesson Ready-Made?
From the author: “I have put together a New Year’s Resolutions lesson based on these concepts, including printable goal-tracking sheets and reflection forms, ideal for use in grades 6-12, but also appropriate for grades 4 and 5. The lesson also includes access to the forms in Google Drive, for paperless classrooms.”
Annual Conference & Professional Development
MEEA Annual Conference 2024
Planning has already begun!
What we know so far:
- Our 2024 conference will be in the Springfield, Missouri, area.
- First Weekend of November-–Mark your calendars!
- Our conference planning committee is meeting regularly to plan your event.
- Young Environmental Leaders will be super involved!
- Venues have not yet been confirmed, but there is so much EE happening in Springfield area!
email us with questions, comments and feedback.
New Professional Development in 2024
Check Out MEEA’s New PD Course Platform!
- Thanks to funding from the EPA and distributed through the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE), of which we are an affiliate, MEEA has been able to work closely with other state affiliates to receive training in an online course platform, Moodle.com. We are currently pilot-testing a brand new course called Teaching and Learning in the Outdoors, a course that was the number one PD topic requested by EE educators in a multi-state survey this past spring. Once this course is reviewed and updated after the pilot phase (end of January 2024), it will be available to more participants. So stay tuned!
- Preview of courses to come (some ready, some being developed as we speak by multiple state affiliates):
- Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
- Foundations in Teaching Environmental Education
- Environmental Justice
- Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
- Green Schools
- Climate Justice
- Climate Literacy
- EE and Civic Engagement
In the mean time, visit this link to explore our Moodle platform and our growing list of future courses: eecourses.meea.org
Trust in Food Symposium
Feb. 7-8, 2024 | Loews Kansas City Hotel
L-A-D/CFO Grant Program for Conservation
A new $55,000 grant program to support the conservation of natural and cultural resources in L-A-D Foundation’s 11-county service area.
- Deadline to apply is Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024
Workshops & Webinars
MDC Discover Nature Schools First Grade Curriculum: Exploring Missouri
St. Louis Regional Office
JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility
Disability and Inclusion: Making Outdoor Play Accessible
NOTE: This article is from the website: “First Discoverers.” For total content of this important and challenging topic, go to: firstdiscoverers.co.uk/disability-and-inclusion-outdoor-play
The outdoors is a special playing and learning environment for all children: a place of unrestricted choice of movement and immersive sensory experience where aesthetic qualities are more vivid in a natural world of infinite space. And, when considering disability and inclusion, childcare professionals report that, for those children with individual needs and complex disabilities, contact with the outdoors is almost guaranteed to produce stronger responses than the levels normally exhibited during indoor play.
As Bilton observes, a well-designed outdoor landscape offers the perfect place to accommodate inclusive play:
‘… there is lots of space, mess and noise are not a problem and there are lots of loose parts which children can use at their own level of ability … Outside one can practise over and over and over again. In play everyone can be included and it is simply easier to follow the gist of what is going on.’ (Bilton, 2010).
A child’s right to inclusive play
This outdoor model of provision clearly seeks to fulfil the requirements of article 23 of the United Nations Committee’s Rights of the Child (UNCRC) document which sets out the right of all disabled children to ‘enjoy a full and decent life’. However, as Casey (2011) has shown and Figure 8.1 illustrates, the UNCRC notion of inclusive play can itself be subject to a range of nuanced interpretations both in legislative documents and guidance issued by different organisations, and in different childcare settings. Sometimes opportunities for access and participation are prioritised, whilst elsewhere the focus may shift to removing exclusive barriers or providing the fullest possible inclusive play experience.
Figure 8.1 Interpretations of the right to be included (Inspired by Casey, 2011)
Play and inclusion: a potential paradox
One result of this variety of emphasis, clearly highlighted in the Barnardo’s ‘Lets play together’ report (Barnardo’s, 2005), is that even the best inclusive play provision ‘where diversity is respected and valued’ and which enables ‘all children of all abilities, ethnic backgrounds, ages and other differences, to play together’ will have ‘barriers which must be overcome’. As the report’s authors point out and summarise in graphic form (see Figure 8.2), there can be many practical reasons why ‘inclusive play is not merely about inclusion’ – their research evidence encompassed some settings which fell short of this ideal and ‘provided high-quality play, but were not inclusive (in terms of children playing together)’, while others were ‘inclusive, but did not necessarily enable children to play’.
Green Schools Corner
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE) presents Student Environmental Action Awards to recognize Missouri high school students who have initiated and/or contributed to innovative projects that have or will result in a strong, beneficial environmental impact.
Applicants should stress its impact and the role of students in initiating and/or perpetuating the project. The application should be written by students and co-signed by a faculty member who can verify the project and results.
Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- First – $300 (one awardee)
- Second – $200 (one awardee)
- Honorary Mention – $100 (no limit, at MCE’s discretion)
Judging will be done by individuals with a history of environmental work and/or environmental education.
With the applicants permission, all winning entries will appear on our website.
MCE reserves the right to limit awards.
- Deadline for Submission – 2/28/24
- Awards Announced – 4/22/24, Earth Day
Please contact us at email@example.com if you have any issues with your submission using the Google Form linked in the Apply Now button above.
Become a Green School: Start by exploring here.
Green Schools employ practices to reduce environmental impacts and costs, improve health and wellness, and foster effective place-based education. They are healthy, high performing places that yield better learning for students, more effective teachers, fiscal responsibility, and resource conservation while engendering hope, connection, and agency in young learners.
Many schools want to go green, but don’t know how to start. Show-Me Green Schools, a suite of three free programs co-managed by Missouri Gateway Green Building Council and Missouri Environmental Education Association, provide structure, resources and recognition to support every Missouri PreK-12 school in becoming a green school – no matter their starting place.
For more information: showmegreenschools.org
Nature Phenomena This Month
News from the Field
Invasive Species News