Missouri Environmental Education News: July 2023

Welcome to the lastest edition of MEEA's Newsletter
Lesli Moylan Photo

Table of Contents

  • Feature Article
  • Lesson Resources
  • Annual Conference & Professional Development
  • Featured Events, Grants, & Workshops
  • JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
  • Green Schools Corner
  • Missouri Nature Phenomena This Month
  • News from the Field

Dear MEEA Friends, 

This month I want to encourage our community to Love Nature Back! I hope to let love be my guiding force this month – not worry, not frustration, not even a big goal that would feel good to achieve. But love!

July is Plastic Free Month, and participation is a great way to show nature some love by upping your plastic-reduction game. While the challenge is to go plastic free for a month, I can’t foresee getting buy-in from everyone in my household to do that. Our family has slowly reduced our plastic dependency, and have normalized quite a few plastic free habits. We use bar soap, reusable water bottles, and have plastic-free laundry and dishwashing options we employ. Groceries are a different story. We bring our own bags, and frequently nab non-wrapped produce, but we have a lot of room for improvement here. I’m going to lobby for 1 week of plastic-free grocery shopping this month. We’ll see how it goes!! 

 July is also a good month for enjoying the abundant cooling water in our state. I have regular access to an Ozarks stream, which has piqued my interest in learning more about water quality. Continuing education is a great way to love nature back. I’m going to love nature back throughout the rest of 2023 by achieving Level 1 Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring with Missouri Stream Team. Level 1 is self-paced via their Youtube channel! 

 Finally, we show people we love them by spending time with them – slowing down, being there, listening – so why not with Nature too? Is it hard to slow down and connect? I find apps like iNaturalist and Merlin Bird ID to be so helpful, especially since my phone is almost always with me. When it comes to field guides, there are so many great ones out there but I can’t say enough good things about “Mama Mudbug’s Look Book” by Janet Price. It’s a field guide to Ozarks critters geared towards kids, but it’s so fun and accessible that I find myself flipping through it all the time. (**This book project was also supported by a MEEA Mini-Grant.)

However you are moved to love nature back this month, go for it! And if you’re so moved, share it on the MEEA Facebook or Instagram page. We’d love to see what you’re up to.

Until next time, have a fantastic July!


Lesli Moylan, MEEA Executive Director

Feature Article:

Gen Z: Fearless, Worldly & Impatient


Photo Source: B&T Magazine

Several of us involved with MEEA have kids or students who are considered part of what is known as “Generation Z” (aka “Gen Z” or sometimes “Zoomers”).  Earlier this year as we started our planning for the MEEA Annual Conference, we tossed around ideas for what theme would encompass our mission and inspire some relevant EE sessions and speakers. Given that one of the pillars of our strategic plan is Youth Engagement, we chatted about our Gen Z kiddos, how challenging the last few years have been for them, and how they are managing it all.  Laura Seger, our wonderfully thoughtful President Elect and long-time Board Member, suggested that we should attempt to bring hope, not just gloom and doom, and our theme, Sharing Hope and Inspiring Action, was born. Our kids need to know that we are there for them…that literally everything we do through EE is not only for them but ultimately with them!

The young people that belong to Generation Z are generally described as being born around the mid to late 1990s to early 2010s.  Our son was born in 1999; our daughter in 2003.  So, there is no doubt in my family! I have observed some things incredible and inspiring in my own children…

–They are fearless.  They both attack life with a determination that fascinates me.  And, turns out that’s one of the classic Gen Z characteristics! That strength, I believe, comes from their very specific timeline of history on this planet.

–They are worldly. Gen Zers were raised in a time with full access to the whole world because of technology…smartphones, chromebooks, wifi, satellites, travel…all at their fingertips.  They have not been shielded from the good, the bad, or the ugly truths of being human. They’ve seen, heard, and/or experienced amazing significant events in the past quarter century:

  • 9/11 and the “forever wars” and worldwide struggles with terrorism
  • Catastrophic environmental damage to our planet due to climate change
  • Progress with civil rights, and in some cases regression of those very rights they care about (such as reproductive rights for women)
  • The first election of persons of color as US president and US Vice president
  • The first nomination of a woman for US President
  • Racial, ethnic, gender identity and other cultural progress that has also led to rising tensions
  • Access to other world cultures, languages, customs, art, literature and music
  • Mass shootings across the globe, including in schools and places of worship
  • A world population surpassing 8 billion
  • A planet-wide COVID 19 pandemic that took the lives of loved ones and shut down their schools and gathering places
  • …and so much more

–They are impatient.  I recognize this not only in my own kids but in the Gen Z youth I encounter in classrooms, parks, and other educational settings.  The slow pace that we as their adults display drives them totally “noodles” (my apparently turtle-pace on any device drives them up the wall!).

The Gen Z impatience has both a negative and positive side.  Unfortunately the downside is that many of this generation also suffer from heightened anxiety and depression; nothing seems to move fast enough for some of these kids, including their own successes.  The HOPEFUL side is that impatience can also be their superpower!  It is the thing that drives them forward to fix problems and not allow others to rest on our laurels while our “hair is on fire,” so to speak!

Generation Z will save the world, I’m convinced.  They are fearless, they are worldly, and they are impatient.  Now, perhaps those of us who value our garden planet should start by not only lifting these superheroes up, but also in some cases by getting out of their way.

(Note: Something else inspired me after this epiphany: I want to do a project specifically related to Gen Z, and how I honestly believe that it is the generation that will save the world! So stay tuned!  This article is my introduction to what will soon be a multi-faceted exploration of this unique cohort of young people.)


Article and Lesson Resources submitted by:

Jamin Bray, MEEA Assistant Director

Our Gen Zers right here in Missouri are doing their part…great job Glendale High School in Springfield!

Full article and photos posted by



Lesson Resources

To watch Artemis’s video, click here


During my research for this project I came across this incredible, thought-provoking site with multiple lesson units and plans across grade levels and subjects.  I’m particularly impressed with how they connect civics with environmental issues, which is of course foundational in EE!





“Mock Trial” Unit Combines Ecology and Civic Engagement

More resources related to civics and EE that encourage students to take action, as featured in our upcoming PD Workshops (see flyer below for more information)

This immersive unit challenges students to research invasive species and think about how humans regulate or change the environment through a mock trial. Students will dive deeper into the complex issues between humans and the environment by thinking critically to analysis research and form a statement for their role in the mock trial. Students will consider why invasive species are a concern, learn how invasive species came to be introduced to an ecosystem, how the environment is managed within a community, and what can be done to reduce the environmental impact of invasive species. This lesson is not designed to introduce students to the concept of invasive species. It is recommended that students are already familiar with the term prior to the start of this lesson.  Recommended for grades 6-12.

K-5.ETS1.A.1, K-5.ETS1.B.1, K-5.ETS1.C.1, K.PS3.B.1, 4.PS3.B.1, 4.PS3.B.2, 3.PS1.B.1, 5.ESS1.B.1, 6-8.ETS1.B.1,
6-8.ETS1.B.3, 9-12.PS3.A.3

To access the lessons: meea.org/educator-resources/meea-originals/mock-trial


Annual Conference & Upcoming Professional Development

Update on MEEA Annual Conference!

Even though summer just started, it’s time to begin thinking about the annual MEEA conference! Each year in early November, formal and nonformal educators gather from around the state to network and learn about environmental education together. This year’s theme is Sharing Hope and Inspiring Action, and we invite you to share your story and expertise with others.

Submit your proposal HERE, or email us with questions.

(Note: Registration will open later in the summer, so stay tuned.)

Thanks in advance to our generous Conference Host:

Register Now–3 Awesome

PD Opportunities Coming Up!

(note: the event at Thousand Hills State Park has been resceduled for September 9; y’all come!)

Register here: secure.lglforms.com/Active Link



Featured Event:

Webinar: Federal Funding for Equipment Installation or Replacement at K-12 Schools

Date & Time: Jul 20, 2023 11:00 AM (CT)


Featured Grant:

The Missouri Grown program

Available now until November 1, 2023 https://agriculture.mo.gov/abd/financial/promotespecialtycrops.php


Featured Workshop:

Invasive Species: On Trial!

MEEA Presents this unique summer PD workshop 3 times at 3 MO State Parks!

MEEA Events Calendar

JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Indigenous Learning Series



Register for the Presentations, Resources & Support


  • We offer the 4 Seasons of Indigenous Learning as an acknowledgement that authentically undertaking a personal learning journey towards Truth and Reconciliation takes more than just a day or month each year, but should be across all four seasons.

  • This initiative encourages and empowers educators to deepen their understanding of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives while strengthening connections with the local land.

  • This learning is open to EVERYONE. While the content of the modules in Season 1 is specific to Canada, it is transferable across Turtle Island (North America).


Green Schools Corner

Show-Me Greenschools:

A “Suite” of Programs

In 2023, the Green Schools Quest is joining Missouri Green Schools and the US Department of Education Green Ribbon School programs under the umbrella of Show-Me Green Schools (showmegreenschools.org). MEEA is proud to now be co-managing this suite of three programs with Missouri Gateway Green Building Council (MGGBC)

MGGBC has managed the Green Schools Quest program independently up until  now. Since 2013, this fantastic program has had 194 schools participate in the program. 309 student-driven sustainability projects have been implemented and documented with nearly 30,000 student and staff participants. MEEA is honored to be an official partner with MGGBC on the Green Schools Quest and the entire suite of Show-Me Green Schools offerings.

Nature Phenomena This Month

Photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation. Learn more at https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide

News from the Field

Increasing and Improving Environmental Journalism

Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk expands coverage of local environment and agriculture news with new grant

COLUMBIA, Mo. (July 31, 2023) — The Missouri School of Journalism today announced a $2.47 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation in support of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, a network of journalists that provides coverage of agriculture, water and environmental issues centered around the Mississippi River Basin to news media nationwide free of charge. The grant extends the foundation’s support of the Desk for three more years and represents a more than $1 million increase over the Desk’s founding grant in 2021.

“At a time when local news deserts are a concern throughout the country, the Desk is an oasis of strong, local environmental coverage,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “We are thankful for the Walton Family Foundation’s expanded support, which speaks to the profound needs the Desk is addressing in the industry and in communities throughout the basin.”

With this support, the Desk will place a second cohort of 10 journalists in newsrooms throughout the basin for up to three years beginning next summer. As before, the journalists will be hired through a partnership with Report for America (RFA) and will receive training and mentorship from experts at the School of Journalism and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). Interested newsrooms can apply to Report for America by the deadline of Sept. 18.

In addition, reporters from the first cohort that started in 2022 have the option to remain for a third year, which is expected to result in a larger network of reporters next year. A list of newsrooms and reporters already in the program can be found at the Desk’s website.

“Over the last two years, this unique program has proven to be highly successful at increasing and improving environmental journalism in local news deserts,” said Meaghan Parker, executive director of SEJ. “Its comprehensive approach leverages the strengths of each partner to combine three key pillars: sustainable local newsroom capacity, regional collaboration and mentoring, and national networking and convening. SEJ is pleased to continue to be a part of this innovative and important effort to better inform local communities across the basin and leaders across the country.”

“Collaborations like this are helping newsrooms bring greater awareness of the issues that affect the daily lives of millions of people living within the Mississippi River Basin through a local lens,” said Kim Kleman, executive director of Report for America. “With this added funding, we’ll not only be able to expand coverage but provide our corps members with the mentoring and editing support they need to better serve their communities through their reporting.



Mississippi River Basin

This map says it all...We are all connected!