Missouri Environmental Education News: March 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 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

 

 

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

Annual Conference & Upcoming Professional Development

Thanks in advance to our generous Conference Host:

Interested in joining our conference planning committee?

contact us: moylan@meea.org

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 moylan@meea.org

Register Here

Featured…

Events

Featured Event:

Missouri Association of School Nurses Annual Conference 

MASN conference

 

Grants

Featured Grant:

Missouri Environmental Education Mini-Grants

meea.org/educator-resources/environmental-education-grants

Workshops

Featured Workshop:

MDC Teacher Workshop Series

workshop calendar

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

 

Recently a friend of mine texted me after seeing the news about the horrible train derailment in Ohio.  She understandably asked if we should be worried about things like this happening in Missouri.  Sadly, I told her, we do need to be aware that toxic spills and other environmental disasters that impact our air and water quality, and thus the quality of our lives, do happen here.  We also need to be aware that those events happen across our state in all kinds of communities from urban to rural and everywhere in between.  Railroad lines were often built along waterways because of the flat nature of floodplains, and because of the opportunity to interact with the transport of goods along the rivers.  Other rail lines were sometimes built to connect with mining areas, which is true very close to where I live in the rural Ozarks.  Lead mining, and all of the potential environmental and quality of life impacts that type of industry has, is a huge part of our landscape, economy, jobs, culture, and, alas, a source of environmental quality concerns.
This partial quote from an article is an overview of a recent survey of so-called “Forever Chemicals” found in a Missouri  waterway.
(link to the full article, and credit to the writers and source for the survey:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

News from the Field

Calling all School Teachers and Administrators!!

We REALLY need your help!

And...YOU definitely need to be included in Phase 2 of the Environmental Education "PEEPs Landscape Analysis"

Plains Environmental Education Partnership (PEEPs): Advancing Environmental
Literacy through Data Driven Strategic Action

 

**To put it simply...Landscape=across our entire state!  Once this survey is complete, we and you as educators will be able to more easily find environmental education providers and support NEAR YOU.  We want to better understand your needs and challenges when it comes to providing environmental education and outdoor learning!

Purpose: To build capacity for environmental education in the Plains Environmental Education Partnership (PEEPs)
states through the assessment, analysis, publication of results and action planning using landscape analysis data of
both environmental education (EE) providers and implementation and barriers in formal PreK-12 schools and districts.

We're embarking on a journey to understand the various ways in which schools are engaging students in learning from and about the environment, from preschool through high school.

Through your participation, we aim to gain insights into the landscape of environmental and outdoor learning opportunities in our region, whether it’s indoors or out, from science to language and fine arts. We want to discover what programs and activities are available, where there may be gaps in access, and how schools can work with organizations to enhance environmental and outdoor learning for all students.

By participating in this survey, you are agreeing to have your information listed as part of a state and regional landscape of environmental and outdoor learning in schools across the Plains and Rocky Mountain Region. Only high level details will be shared.

Estimated time to complete: 15 minutes  (Note:  This survey is formatted with skip logic, so you will only answer questions relevant to you.)

This survey is focused only on PreK-12 Schools. If your organization is not a school, but provides environmental and outdoor learning programs, please stay tuned for other opportunities to contribute to this effort.

**TAKE THE SURVEY: PreK-12 EE providers survey for PEEPs

email us with questions, comments and feedback.