Missouri Environmental Education News: May 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,
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.
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, 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
Call for submissions DEADLINE: May 5!
NAAEE 2023 Conference: Together We Thrive
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)
JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility
Equity in the Environmental Education Profession
According to our friends at SEEA:
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
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."