Missouri Environmental Education News: March 2023Welcome to the lastest edition of MEEA's Newsletter
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 Friends of MEEA,
This month Jamin writes about signs of spring, and how we know that it’s almost here even without a calendar. It’s funny, but it caused me to reflect on how I know that MEEA is poised for a big shift as well. I’ve heard stories from lots of folks over the years about how big changes often take about 5 years to start snowballing. I’ve experienced this a couple of times myself, with two school garden projects that built momentum slowly then totally took off at the 5-year mark. Well, this month marks the beginning of my fifth year with MEEA and I’m sensing that the many irons we have in the fire are going to coalesce into something more cohesive in the next 1-2 years. We’ve been pouring energy into Missouri Green Schools for 4 years now, along with the Missouri Gateway Green Building Council. This work has fueled the development of a co-managed suite of green schools programs — Show-Me Green Schools: Pathways to Whole-School Sustainability. While we are working out all the details of this new Umbrella for our green schools efforts, our Certification program is finally getting much-needed attention. By the end of this year, we’ll have a small library of microcredential offerings and an overhauled comprehensive certification process. To top it off, we will increase our regional, in-person professional development offerings from 1 workshop last year, to 4 this year. It’s our hope that we will continue that growth into 2024.
To my mind, the items I noted above are like the buds we see swelling on the bones of the trees in the landscape right now. So much potential about to burst forth into structures capable of capturing and transforming energy. Thank you for your continued support of MEEA’s growth, with time, talent, or treasure. We appreciate every dollar donated to achieve our mission, and we appreciate every conversation where you mention MEEA or a MEEA resource. With your help, MEEA is blossoming as spring approaches, and 2023 is going to be an amazing year of positive changes!
Lesli Moylan, MEEA Executive Director
Feature Article & Lesson Resources:
Spring has Sprung, but how do we know?
The other day out of nowhere I found myself in a reflective mood…I wondered why I suddenly felt this way. Nothing in particular had happened, I just felt restless. I went for a walk down to a lake on our property, and sat down at the water’s edge. That’s when I realized–I think I have Spring Fever! It’s not something that I could control. It was in my senses; I was tuned in to the changes that the spring was bringing, and it was a wonderful experience to re-connect to nature that way. I allowed myself to immerse into the experience, and the following poem is what came to me. Happy Spring everyone–take a walk and experience this renewal with all of your senses!
How do I know?
Besides the calendar, or the list of spring must-dos?
I smell the rain in the air, still held in the clouds. Knowing that when it gets too heavy, it will fall in buckets.
I feel it in the wind, which is different now, coming from a different direction than a while back. Feels like the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico.
I hear it in the snow goose flocks so high above me I strain my eyes to find them after hearing their determined honking. They move north now, because they can, because the north is welcoming them back.
I see it in the tiny flowers in my yard that raise their purple and white blossoms only minutely up, so they won’t freeze overnight.
I taste it in the new greens popping up in our garden, because they are nestled in our cold frame that holds in the warmth, even on a chilly February day.
How do all of these living things know that spring is coming? Are they like me, and it just is? Something undeniable that they sense?
Perhaps. Maybe there are adaptations we all have to trigger this feeling that spring is coming. No matter what the calendar shows.
For me, I embrace spring with all of my senses, and I am amazed.
Article, poem, photos and lesson ideas submitted by:
Jamin Bray, MEEA Assistant Director
Signs of Spring Lessons and Resources:
National Geographic lessons
Magnetism and Migration lessons
Brains respond to light
Annual Conference & Upcoming Professional Development
Thanks in advance to our generous Conference Host:
Interested in joining our conference planning committee?
contact us: email@example.com
Next month! Join us for an exciting
Professional Development Opportunity:
Experience techniques for presenting hands-on activities aligned to both MO Learning and Environmental Education Standards.
- Fee: $15 or Pay-What-You-Can
- Lunch and K-12 Guidelines for Excellence booklet provided.
- Dress for indoor and outdoor activities.
Presenters from MEEA, MO Department of Conservation, and James River Basin Partnership
Contact for information:
Lesli Moylan, MEEA Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Missouri Environmental Education Mini-Grants
JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility
The Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper’s sampling of Coldwater Creek (pictured above) in St. Louis, Missouri, detected more than 20 individual PFAS chemicals.
Environmental Justice is a Missouri Issue, Too:
The Ohio toxic train disaster reminds us of toxins in our own state.
By Jamin Bray
A survey from Waterkeeper Alliance found chemicals known as PFAS were found in surface waters across the United States with particularly high concentrations found in some rivers in the Midwest.
The Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper wasn’t surprised to find dangerous PFAS chemicals in Coldwater Creek in north St. Louis County, but the group was surprised to see how much there was.
“Out of all of the waterkeepers in the broader Midwest, we had the highest concentration of total PFAS,” said Charles Miller, the policy manager at Missouri Confluence Waterkeeper. “We had one of the higher concentrations in the country.”
Waterkeeper Alliance asked waterkeepers across the United States to test for PFAS chemicals. PFAS is the shortened term for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “forever chemicals” because their components break down very slowly over time. Many are now present in people, animals and food and are linked to certain cancers, lower immune response and reproductive effects. The report found that 83% of the waters tested had at least one of these chemicals.
“I do genuinely think that in the (Midwest) we’re kind of behind the curve on regulating it. That’s absolutely true,” Miller said. “We’re also behind the curve on figuring out where it is.”
Green Schools Corner
Thanks Cassville Kids for Taking the “Give Earth Some Love” Challenge!
In our February Newsletter I challenged you to create your own Valentine’s Day cards dedicated to loving Planet Earth. Well, I was blown away! Look at these wonderful “heart-felt” (pun intended!) cards. These were shared by Anna Skalicky, the Naturalist/Resource Interpreter at Roaring River State Park. According to Anna:
“I wanted to share some valentines to planet Earth that the Cassville [MO] Library homeschool group made. We did a program today about animal poetry and used animal poems to help us make valentines for the Earth. They all did such a great job!”
SOON: All of this group’s many cards will be featured on our website!
Nature Phenomena This Month
News from the Field
CDC Life Expectancy Report
US life expectancy rose last year, but it remains below its pre-pandemic level
**for full article content: apnews.com/article/what-is-us-life-expectancy-2022
BY MIKE STOBBE, Updated 2:59 PM CST, November 29, 2023
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. life expectancy rose last year — by more than a year — but still isn’t close to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2022 rise was mainly due to the waning pandemic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said Wednesday. But even with the large increase, U.S. life expectancy is only back to 77 years, 6 months — about what it was two decades ago.
Life expectancy is an estimate of the average number of years a baby born in a given year might expect to live, assuming the death rates at that time hold constant. The snapshot statistic is considered one of the most important measures of the health of the U.S. population. The 2022 calculations released Wednesday are provisional, and could change a little as the math is finalized.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Recommendations to the MO Legislature for 2024
**for the complete list of recommendations: dese.mo.gov/media/pdf/state-board-education-2024-legislative-priorities
The State Board of Education (Missouri) submitted 2024 Legislative Priorities earlier this year, which include the following recommendations that Environmental Education can help accomplish.
Under Educator Recruitment and Retention:
"The State Board of Education supports the implementation of strategies aimed at providing immediate support for classroom management, improving the flexibility and professional growth opportunities within the teaching profession, and expanding training for local school leaders on cultivating a positive school climate and culture."
Under Safe and Healthy Schools:
"The State Board of Education supports ongoing efforts that reinforce positive student behavior thereby allowing educators to focus on providing instruction in a respectful, engaging classroom environment."
Under Success-Ready Students and Workforce Development:
"The State Board of Education supports continued funding of literacy initiatives aimed at supporting the Science of Reading."