Missouri Environmental Education News: May 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, 

Way to go, MEEA! It has been a busy week for our organization. In the past 7 days, MEEA reps have hosted a Guidelines for Excellence Workshop in Springfield, met with potential new collaborators in KC, and celebrated green schools in St. Louis! I wasn’t at all of these events, which is even cooler — it means our network is growing and getting stronger. A huge thank you to Jamin Bray, Wendy Parrett, Laura Seger, and Brooke Widmar for leading a hands-on Guidelines for Excellence in EE workshop in SW Missouri, and to Jeff Birchler for hosting us at the Watershed Center of the Ozarks!

Our Show-Me Green Schools AmeriCorps VISTA team is spread out across the state and works remotely almost 100% of the time. This week, the whole team got to be together in person for two green schools celebrations in St. Louis, and the VISTAs met several MEEA Board Members and Green Schools Committee members in person for the first time. At Patrick Henry Downtown Academy, staff, students, and community partners gathered at the school to celebrate their US Dept of Ed Green Ribbon School award with nature-based kids activities and even a visit from St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones! Later that same day, Green Schools Quest participants and supporters came together at the St. Louis History Museum to celebrate more than 3 dozen student-driven projects that advanced Whole-School Sustainability this year – and to learn the winners of this year’s contest! The VISTAs contributed a ton to both events – thank you!! 

And finally, somehow in the midst of all this, Hope Gribble (who has led the Green Schools Quest for 10 years and co-manages Show-Me Green Schools with me) managed to launch the new Show-Me Green Schools website. What an incredible week for our organization and green schools. My heart is full.

 

Lesli Moylan, MEEA Executive Director

Top: Green Schools Quest student panelists share their insights from this year’s experience.
Middle: Patrick Henry students try out a smoothie bike; AmeriCorps VISTA Shahday Bayan got a photo with Mayor Jones
Bottom: St. Teresa’s Academy Green Team learning about Missouri Green Schools and planning their next green and healthy steps; Guidelines for Excellence workshop in Springfield.

Feature Article:

What’s All the Buzz About?

Spring has sprung and the bees they are are a’buzzin! I have been fascinated by pollinators for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I loved sneaking up on the monarchs that danced around my mom’s flower garden. I thought the huge carpenter bees that hung around our home were the cutest thing I had ever seen with their big fuzzy bodies, and I was so impressed by the precision at which they drilled their perfect holes into our patio wood, much to my father’s dismay. When I first learned that bats and opossums play an important role in certain plant pollination, they jumped up about 5 points on the cuteness-scale. These days, working with students in school gardens, I get a lot of up-close interaction with pollinators that frequent the spaces I visit. Last summer, the students and I got the greatest kick out of observing a crew of squash bees sticking out their extra long tongues as they collected pollen from our tromboncino flowers. Still, with 1 in 3 bites of our food dependent on animal pollination, pollinators play a much greater role than just being fun to look at!

Recently, a group of local researchers from 6 institutions in the St. Louis region (University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University, Maryville University, Webster University, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the St. Louis Zoo) teamed up to collect data on the benefits of urban orchards in terms of supporting local insect diversity and minimizing the ecological impact of cities. The researchers collected data from 36 different urban orchard sites around St. Louis. When presenting some of their research at Seed St. Louis’ Community Agriculture Conference this year, I learned some fun facts about bees in the St. Louis region. Did you know Missouri is home to over 450 species of bees? Of those, the researchers observed 211 species in St. Louis urban orchards! That is nearly half of all MO bee species! The team noted that of the bees that were generalists, meaning they feed off a variety of different flowers, they still tended to be fairly constant in their individual flower choices. Blue and purple flowers were favored among the bees, with bright and pure spectral colored flowers being another popular choice. Other bees observed were specialists, which means they are extremely inflexible in their diet choice. For example, the native hibiscus bee, specializes only on hibiscus plants, favoring our three Missouri native hibiscus species. The researchers also revealed that bees generally do not travel more than a mile in a day, while some, such as sweat bees, only travel up to 150 meters in a single day. Given the bees limited range of travel and the specificity of their diet needs, it is clear that we need many diverse food sources spread throughout the land in order to support pollinator biodiversity and maximize food production in our gardens. Turning vacant lots throughout the city into gardens, orchards, and parks is just one way St. Louis is doing this!

Read more about this local pollinator study here.

 

Article submitted by:

Tonia Scherer, MEEA Board of Directors President and Director of Schools for Seed St. Louis

 

“BeeLagio” at Southern Boone Elementary in Ashland, MO.

photo by Lesli Moylan

Lesson Resources

Lesson, Photos and Resources

by Tonia Sherer

Lesson Link: Want to get your students involved in pollinator research of their own?  Try this lesson where students will investigate the number and location of pollinators visiting the school grounds and  determine how animal and plant adaptations affect survival. 

For entire lesson plan: Seed St. Louis Pollinator Experiment 

To access the accompanying lesson resource: Pollinator Experiment Accompanying Worksheet

 

Annual Conference & Upcoming Professional Development

Update on Annual Conference!

Thanks in advance to our generous Conference Host:

Interested in joining our conference planning committee?

contact us: moylan@meea.org

Amazing Upcoming PD Opportunity!

 

Featured…

Events

Featured Event:

Call for submissions DEADLINE: May 5!

NAAEE 2023 Conference: Together We Thrive

 

conference details

 

Grants

Featured Grant:

MO State Parks Bus Grant Program

Deadline: May 15, 2023, for field trips planned for the 2022-2023 school year (July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023)

missouri-state-parks-bus-grant-program

Workshops

Featured Workshop:

MDC Teacher Workshop Series

workshop calendar

JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Equity in the Environmental Education Profession

MEEA is committed to moving forward with making what we do accessible to ALL.  That effort also includes hiring and Board development practices that are inclusive.  We are thrilled to credit our colleagues from the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA), who have created, released, and asked us to share an amazing new document, eeGuidance for Equitable Pay and Hiring in Environmental Education southeastee.com/eeguidance

 

According to our friends at SEEA:

“There are several key areas that employers must change to make environmental education careers more accessible to a broader population, including pay and benefits, position design, recruitment, processes, and practices. The eeGuidance for Equitable Pay and Hiring provides researched explanations of why these areas matter and outlines specific minimum standards for employers to enact immediately and identifies the target standards that we all must work toward to transform employment in our field.
 

This document has been endorsed by NAAEE and its Affiliates: KAEE (Kentucky), EENC (North Carolina), EEASC (South Carolina), LEEF (Florida), EEAA (Alabama), MEEA (Mississippi), TEEA (Tennessee), and [MEEA (Missouri)].”

Green Schools Corner

Patrick Henry Downtown Academy Named 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School

In recent years, Patrick Henry took the necessary steps to transform their 116-year-old historic building into a haven of sustainable efforts with 100% LED lighting, a walking-only field trip policy, and many others. Patrick Henry demonstrates the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model with their garden program that provides daily access to fresh produce for students and their families. Every school year, the Academy pushes students, families, and staff to better themselves through bettering their environment.

On being recognized, Patrick Henry principal, Dr. Deborah Rogers, has this to say: “Winning the nomination for the US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools is one of the highest honors Patrick Henry has achieved. It is a national recognition of the hard work we are doing every day to make sure our students, staff, families, neighbors, and community partners have the healthiest school experience possible. We have spent years cultivating our green initiatives because we believe in the power of sustainability, environmental responsibility, and physical and mental well-being. Our students deserve the healthiest setting for learning and growing, and we are equipping the next generation with not only the right habits to create a better world, but also the right mindset to always care for themselves, their peers, their environment, and their community. It is unbelievably rewarding to be a part of this work, and I am proud of Patrick Henry for our accomplishments across all green initiatives.” 

 

 

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.