Missouri Environmental Education News: July 2021Welcome to the lastest edition of MEEA's Newsletter
Table of Contents
- Lesson Resources
- Feature Article
- Upcoming Events, Workshops & Grants
- MEEA News Highlights
Dear MEEA Members,
As always, so much is happening in our organization and I wanted to highlight two big things on the horizon. First, our annual conference is just around the corner! The conference will be held virtually, from Nov. 3-6, once again in collaboration with KACEE (our Kansas counterpart). You can register, submit a presentation proposal, and support the conference in a variety of ways. Learn all about it at on our conference page. Each of the “accordion sections” has info about a different aspect of the conference, and we’ll be updating the page frequently.
Second, the Board of Directors and I have been exploring changes to our membership structure in 2022. In a nutshell, we want to 1) provide members with what you need and want; 2) continue to offer low and no-cost memberships to ensure member benefits are accessible to everyone; and 3) increase overall membership revenue to ensure that we remain a viable organization for a long time to come. We’ve developed a short Member Survey, and your input is much needed so please take 5-10 minutes and share your thoughts!
More details on the Conference and the Membership changes can be found in the MEEA news section at the bottom of the newsletter.
Wishing you many moments of joy, relaxation, and wonder during these remaining days of summer.
Lesli Moylan, Executive Director
Article: Summer Fun and Water Conservation
FEATURED LESSON SUBMITTED BY:
Erin Graves, MEEA Board Member and Science Teacher at Herculaneum High School
Photos by: Lesli Moylan
It’s July in Missouri and those long hot ‘lazy hazy crazy’ days of summer are back. My grandmother would say, “July gets so hot around here, the birds have to use an oven mitt when they pull the worms out of the ground!” As the sun shines and the temperature goes up, we are drawn to refreshing water for a cool retreat from the heat.
Across Missouri, this is one reason water usage increases during the summer. During other seasons, a typical family of four in the United States uses approximately 300 gallons(1) of water each day for cleaning, bathing, drinking, toilet use, and washing machine and dishwasher use. During the summer, that can jump to 1000 to even 3000 gallons per day according to the Environmental Protection Agency(3). This level of water usage not only impacts us financially with the increased cost of our water bill, but has many negative impacts to the environment.
Luckily, there are a variety of ways to beat the heat and still keep water conservation in mind. Here are some family friendly tips to save water and still have great summer fun!
Water work equals water play
Some of the most memorable summer moments are playing with hoses and sprinklers. These water activities use up more water than you might think. Fortunately, however, water play doesn’t have to stop altogether. Many of us water our grass and plants. So, why not have fun doing both? Kids can have fun running and jumping through the water while you take care of your lawn and garden. While this activity is fun for all, sprinklers use up a large amount of water so be sure to use it for a limited time; around 15 minutes.
If you are watering your lawn without water play, consider doing so when temperatures are cooler. When you run your sprinkler during the day, much of that water evaporates away. Less water will evaporate and more will get absorbed into the ground during the cooler morning and evening summer hours (2). You might even be able to water less often by changing watering times.
Your child can also enjoy water play by helping to wash your vehicle. Purchasing a high-efficiency nozzle for your hose controls the amount of water and pressure to help conserve water usage during these activities.
Gardening with kids
It’s never too early to teach your kids about growing plants. Gardening is an activity that provides valuable lessons in water conservation. Using locally grown plants is the best. If certain species are known to grow native, it means they’re used to the climate and can grow on their own without a lot of watering. Gardening is also a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the importance of plants.
If you have a pool, even a small wading pool, in your backyard, you don’t have to go far to cool off. Towards the end of summer though, having your own pool can get a bit repetitive when it comes to summer play. So, make up your own games with water balloons, water guns, beach balls or pool noodles. Having a pool at home is a great way to stay cool, but when you’re not using it, keep it covered to conserve water. Keeping it uncovered allows a lot of water to evaporate. If you don’t have your own pool, check out public pools in your area to see if they are open due to the restrictions from the COVID-19 virus.
No pool? No problem!
Don’t have a pool or access to a public pool? Here are some ideas for you and your kids to still have loads of summer water fun:
- Fill a few plastic containers with water and paintbrushes and let toddlers paint the driveway and themselves!
- Make ice chalk with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of cornstarch and a few drops of food coloring. Use this icey chalk on sidewalks or driveways for cool summer fun.
- Drip, Drip Drop is like Duck, Duck, Goose – but just add water! You need a bucket of water and a sponge. Kids dip the sponge in the bucket and when they want someone to tag and chase them, they squeeze the water on that kid’s head. It’s a favorite game that doesn’t use much water. You can also do a wet sponge toss or make sponge balls for loads of fun. (To make sponge balls: stack 3 sponges from a dollar store on top of one another and cut them lengthwise into three strips. Cinch them together with a rubber band and you have a cool sponge ball for a number of different games using just a bucket of water!)
- Go outside with your kids during a summer rain shower when thunder and lightning are absent, or have fun playing in the puddles afterwards. You can also collect the rainwater for filling water balloons, sponge balls and squirt guns. Rain barrels can help kids understand the importance of water conservations while having water fun!
- Missouri has many creeks, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes that provide kids and adults alike tons of cooling water entertainment. Visiting these natural areas is also a great way to help children learn about water critters and learn about their habitats. Show kids how to make boats from fallen sticks, bark and leaves and have a boat race down a creek. Pack a picnic lunch and make an unforgettable day of it!
- Lots of fun water conservation education games are available through the organization ‘Water – Use it Wisely’ (https://wateruseitwisely.com/kids/games/)
Summertime is so much fun. We can all beat the heat and enjoy fun in the water while conserving it!
Year ‘round water conservation
Conserving water outdoors and indoors is something we can do not only in the summer, but all year round. Here are some tips on how you can be ‘water-wise’:
Indoor water conservation tips(1):
- Adjust the water in your toilet tank to a lower level so you and your family use less water per flush to conserve water.
- Fill a pitcher of water to keep in the fridge so water isn’t wasted while you wait for the tap water to cool to the desired temperature.
- Turn the water off while shampooing, brushing teeth, or shaving.
- Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load, and plug the sink while washing dishes.
- Rather than running leftover food through the garbage disposal, compost it to reduce water usage. While you’re at it, why not teach kids about composting?
- Wash fewer, larger loads of laundry rather than multiple smaller loads.
- Fix faucets that drip or have a small leak.
- Collect water from your dehumidifier and use that to nourish house plants.
- Look for rebates or cost-share programs on the purchase or installation of water-efficient fixtures and appliances.
Outdoor water conservation tips(1):
- Sweep driveways, sidewalks, porches, and decks rather than using water to rinse off dust and debris.
- Purchase an inexpensive soil moisture probe to assess soil moisture and the need to water vegetables, flowers, trees, and shrubs.
- Plant native or drought-tolerant plants that require less water.
- Ensure your in-ground irrigation system has a rain sensor installed; check that it is functioning to ensure your system does not run immediately after or during a rain.
- Missouri Conservation Department (Http://jandahvac.com/water-conservation-tips-for-summer/)
- Philadelphia Water Education (https://www.phila.gov/water/educationoutreach/Documents/Homewateruse_IG5.pdf)
- Environmental Protection Agency (www. EPA.gov)
Kudos to the Conservation Federation of Missouri for the successful expansion of their Share The Harvest program to include shelf-stable venison snack sticks for food pantries. Share The Harvest provides a pathway for deer hunters to donate their harvests to food pantries in Missouri, providing a great source of protein which is hard to come by in food pantries. After two years of planning, which included changes to the law regulating the STH program to allow shelf-stable items in addition to frozen venison, this new addition to the program is off the ground!
Kudos to Gamble Community Center in St. Louis. Gamble is one of several community centers who are part of a Youth Development Collaborative with the St. Louis Mayor’s Office and many partnering organizations who are part of MEEA. Through this partnership, Gamble Center provided professional development in outdoor learning for their staff and this summer has hosted a summer camp for youth in the City of St. Louis. At Gamble Summer camp they like to enjoy the great outdoors every chance possible. Whether it’s playing kickball, swimming, looking for insects or planting their garden, they love being outside and learning new things about the nature that surrounds their camp.
Kudos to Missouri River Relief and First Chance for Children’s Lend & Learn Library. They’ve partnered to help provide parents with young children the opportunity to check out high-quality Child Carrier Backpacks. Any individual who lives in Boone County and has a child under the age of 5 is eligible to check out a child carrier for free through the Lend & Learn Library. Why Child Carriers? Meaningful experiences outdoors can improve the quality of life, health and social wellbeing of families and young children. Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy time outdoors. However, outdoor gear for families can be expensive and children outgrow these items relatively fast–thus the need for this partner project.
Kudos to Grow Native! for the launch of the Native Gardens of Excellence program, showcasing beautiful native plant gardens throughout the state. Thank you, Grow Native! for doing so much to advance public knowledge about the benefits and beauty of native plants.
Kudos to Ujima STL. Ujima is dedicated to food justice and community building, and after a pandemic-induced pause have finally been able to launch their Youth Apprenticeship program! Congratulations to Ujima on teaching St. Louis youth about food justice while developing their urban agriculture knowledge, plant-based culinary skills, and entrepreneurial confidence…and valuing the youth and their time by compensating them at $20/hour!
Kudos to Stan Slaughter and Linda Chubbuck for leading by example and turning their yard in the KC Metro area into a suburban homestead. They are featured in the August/September issue of Mother Earth News, and their story is a great example of “blooming where planted” and civic engagement.
Featured Event: Every School Can Be A Green School! Sept. 8 at 4:30
Featured Grant: MEEA Mini-Grant Applications Due Aug. 30th
Featured Workshop: Paul Andersen is in St. Louis on September 13-15!
We’ve been exploring changes to our membership structure over the last few months.
Membership vs Newsletter — One thing that prompted the change is that to receive the newsletter currently, a person signs up to be a MEEA member. In the past, the monthly newsletter was the primary communication, but as we have grown we have more frequent updates that we send out. We’d like to separate out those who just want the monthly newsletter from those who want more. You can answer that question and a few others by taking our very short Member Survey.
Fund Development – As a professional membership organization, annual dues are an opportunity to strengthen MEEA’s fiscal standing. Currently, out of almost 700 Members, we have about 100 with a current paid Professional membership. Professional memberships are eligible for MEEA mini-grants and certification; Free memberships are not. We are moving to a structure where Members have a “Pay what you can” option when paying their annual dues. This will eliminate the Free level, so that anyone who is a Member will be eligible for the same benefits. At the same time, we will be raising our annual dues so that those with the ability to provide more financial support have an easy avenue to do so.
The conference team is hard at work preparing for this year’s conference to be held virtually Nov. 3-6.
How can you get involved?
- Submit a session proposal. Deadline: August 26
- Register! Early Bird Pricing ends Sept. 17
- Donate an item to our silent auction
- Purchase an exhibitor booth. This is a wonderful opportunity (and bargain!) if you have a program or organization that you want to highlight.
- Sponsor the conference. If your organization has the means, this is one of the most concrete ways to support MEEA and all the wonderful work this organization does.
Details about all of this can be found on our conference page.
Been thinking about getting more involved with MEEA? We have two great opportunities!
Certification Committee— There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work happening with the MEEA Certification program. If you’re interested in helping us grow this part of MEEA, we’d love your help! Contact Tonia Scherer at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Website Committee — If you have interest in helping maintain the MEEA website, we’d love your help. No experience necessary, we can show you the ropes! This is a great opportunity to help MEEA and build some valuable, transferable skills! Contact Lesli Moylan at email@example.com to learn more.
Recruitment is open now and will remain open until positions are filled. At this moment, our crucial need is to find the MGS Partner Network Coordinator VISTA. The person who fills this role will help to: recruit new partners into the Missouri Green Schools Partner Network, set up the regional partner hubs, coordinate the annual statewide meeting of partners this February, and conduct and analyze the partner survey to identify where our partners serve and what resources they provide.
Details about the Partner Network can be found HERE
Details about the VISTA Partner Network Coordinator position can be found HERE
Contact Lesli Moylan at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions/ideas!