Missouri Environmental Education News: November 2022

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

Table of Contents

  • Feature Article
  • Lesson Resources
  • See You at the Annual Conference!
  • Vista Positions Available
  • 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, 

After three long years, we are finally getting back together in-person for our fall conference! This is the third collaborative conference with the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) in a row, but our first in-person one. In addition to a deepening collaboration with KACEE, we’ve been building relationships over the last couple of years with several other NAAEE Affiliates to form the Plains Environmental Education Partnership (PEEPs – MO, KS, NE, IA, and WY). At the NAAEE conference last month, I got to visit in-person with many people I talk to mostly on Zoom, and it was so wonderful. This week’s Kansas-Missouri EE conference promises to bring that joy to many others as environmental educators from Missouri, Kansas, and even some PEEPs friends from Nebraska have the opportunity to meet in person. I’m so excited for the folks from Kansas and Missouri who have only known each other virtually at our last two conferences to get together and have those irreplaceable face-to-face conversations. 

Our new membership overhaul is an important tool to build community as well. In the coming weeks I’ll be inviting all 80 individuals and 13 organizations who are current MEEA members to get involved in creating an organization capable of helping environmental educators throughout Missouri. We’ll be sending you a (short!) survey to find out what you need as an educator and what you want from your membership. We really want to hear from you, and if each one of you took the survey we’d have a lot of good data to help us prioritize our membership services. Our Board of Directors is quite creative, so we have some new ideas for MEEA services that hopefully will spark some of your own! Bottom line – we want to get to know our Membership and provide what would help you the most. 

It makes my heart happy to think that some of you reading this will be at the conference in just a few short days! I’m also grateful for the technology that will allow us to livestream our keynotes on Friday 11/4 and Saturday 11/5. So, tune in to the MEEA Facebook page at the following times to see both our keynotes: 

Friday 4:45 – Opening Keynote with Atenas Mena and Beto Lugo Martinez of CleanAirNowKC, Sponsored by Square and the Kauffman Foundation

Saturday 12:30 – Closing Keynote with Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, Superintendent at the University City School District, Sponsored by the City of Springfield, Greenscape Gardens, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and the Missouri Botanical Garden.
NOTE: The online schedule indicates the start time for in-person lunch; the keynote will begin at 12:30.

I hope you find many items of value in this month’s issue! Whether you’re a MEEA member or a newsletter subscriber, you are an important part of the Missouri EE community. Together we are building a better tomorrow for future generations and for the planet. 

Lesli, Executive Director

Become a Member

 

Feature Article: Inclusion in Nature-Based Learning

Thinking about taking our learners outdoors can sometimes make us nervous…but, nature-based learning doesn’t always mean going into the wild (although you should try that, too!  Missouri has so many amazing and accessible “wild” places!).

Getting outside can be as simple as hiking down an accessible sidewalk, sitting under the shade of a tree, smelling an herb garden, searching for bugs in the dirt, or feeling the breeze and sun on our faces.  Learners need to get outside to experience nature unfolding, in person!

This excerpt is from the organization Inclusion Outdoors, and they do a wonderful job of clarifying the meaning of inclusive nature-based learning (inclusionoutdoors.com)

Why Inclusion Outdoors?

There are many ways of spending time outdoors connected to our personal interests, values, cultures and histories.  Historically, many communities have had to face barriers that prevent them from enjoying the benefits of spending time outdoors.  Those who have faced these barriers the most include, but are not limited to, low income communities, Black, Indigenous and People of Color, people who are differently abled and the LGBTQIA+ community.

These barriers include:

  • Not feeling represented or welcome

  • Apprehension or fear of the outdoors

  • Racism, hate crimes and unnecessary police involvement

  • Cost, time, proximity and transportation limitations

Outdoors: What We Mean

The outdoors should be accessible, engaging and safe to everyone, no matter who you are, where you’re from and where you live, work and play. Consequently, the outdoors include, but are not limited to, the following spaces:
  • Anywhere nature is found, including transformed vacant lots, schoolyards, urban gardens, backyards, parks (e.g., city, county, regional, state, national), sidewalks, multi-use paths/trails, greenways, etc.

  • Water sources, including ponds, lakes, streams, reservoirs, baylands, wetlands, riparian corridors, and oceans

  • Open and undeveloped spaces and easements

  • Natural ecosystems (not all “green”), including deserts, snow-covered mountains, beaches, etc.

  • Learning centers (museums, zoos, aquariums and other environments dedicated to learning about nature)

 

 

FEATURE ARTICLE SUBMITTED BY:

Jamin Bray

MEEA Assistant Director

 

(Forest Classroom Scarves photo from: eepro.naaee.org/eepro/blog/inclusion-outdoor-classroom)

Lesson Resources: Inclusive Pre-school Programming

FEATURED LESSON IDEA SUBMITTED BY:
Jamin Bray, MEEA Assistant Director

Here is an intriguing book from Children’s Play Garden to complement the feature article (Note—The following description of this lesson book is from the NAAEE eePRO Resource database (inclusive-preschool-through-seasons):

 

About this Book At the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden we follow the seasons and celebrate the natural world. This book is divided into monthly lesson plans with songs, books, art explorations, special topics, and monthly newsletters that make up our fully inclusive, nature-based curriculum. You will learn from real students, real parents and teachers in a nature based setting.

Our goal in presenting this book is to change people’s hearts, minds and practices around inclusive preschool programming. Each reader will enter this book at a different starting place. We welcome you. We are here to support your efforts. We believe the time has come to create community-wide change, starting with a child’s first school experience. Thank you for coming on this journey through a year in a fully inclusive, nature based preschool.

Written by: Liz Bullard, Sophie Barnett-Dyer, Hannah Gallagher and Mica Rood

How to Read the Book: This book is available as a free electronic download. Or, as a hard-copy book for purchase. Hard copies cost $35. All proceeds from the book go directly back to supporting the PlayGarden’s inclusive programs and community-eduction efforts.

childrensplaygarden.org/portfolio/inclusive-preschool-book-curriculum/

More About Educating Through the Seasons

If you don’t already know, the reason why leaves change colors is a very “sciencey” concept, sure to wow your audiences no matter their ages!  Nature is so amazing…

Here’s a helpful link from MDC:

why-leaves-change-color

 

And, check out a very helpful video from the “Mystery Doug” Channel that will help students (and you!) better understand this phenomemon. Happy Fall, y’all!

See You at the Annual MEEA Conference!

Optional Field Trips on Nov. 6, too!

kacee.org/conference

 

Vista Positions Available

Current Open VISTA Positions

Interested?

Click the links below to find out more!

 

  • Two School Support positions:  Provide one-on-one support for under-resourced Missouri schools, assist with action planning, progress tracking, and outreach to expand the program.  MGS School Support VISTA
  • One Partner Network Coordinator position:  Manage the development of a statewide network of organizations that desire to help schools lower their environmental impact, improve health, and shift to a culture of sustainability.  MGS Partner Network Coordinator VISTA

Featured…

Events

Featured Event:

MEEA 2022 Annual Conference

November 4 – 6

 

meea.org/professional-development/annual-conference

 

Grants

Featured Grant:

Sand County Foundation- School Grants

midwestfarmreport.com

Workshops

Featured Workshops:

Teacher Workshops for MDC Discover Nature Schools

MDC Discover Nature Schools

JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Did you know November is:

 

 

If we want to understand JEDIA and how important it is in Environmental Education, we need to start at the beginninThis first video is a brief explanation from NAAEE, and the second goes into more detail about experiencing inequity, and how a disconnect from nature can affect human health.  Take a look!

For a list of the exciting events the MU Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Division will be offering this month, go to:

diversity.missouri.edu/education-development/awareness-and-heritage-months/native-american-heritage-month/

 

Another wonderful resource for education and research about Indigenous Cultures is Missouri’s American Indian Cultural Center, located at Annie and Abel Van Meter State Park, near Miami, MO. mostateparks.com/location/55530/missouris-american-indian-cultural-center

Green Schools Corner

This just in from:

Jill Hollowell, MEEA Board member and Environmental Programs Specialist with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission.  Contact Jill at:

jhollowell@meramecregion.org

Hey Educators!  Check out this Earth Day 2023 challenge.  Together, we can be the “First Responders” that come to the rescue of our planet!

Everything we have comes from Earth, we can’t return these resources back to our planet.

These resources represent our dependence on “Spaceship Earth” and humans can’t live
without them.

These SIX resources power the homes we live in, build the phones and laptops we use to talk to each other; they make and deliver the food we eat and the clothes we wear.

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

A Planetary Milestone

The World Population Just Hit 8 Billion, and Here's How It Will Continue to Grow - Scientific American:

A United Nations model predicts a slower rate of population growth than was previously estimated

 

According to the models of the United Nations (UN), the world’s population will reach 8 billion today—a mere 12 years since it passed 7 billion, and less than a century after the planet supported just 2 billion people.

The latest UN population update, released in July this year, also revises its long-term projection down from 11 billion people to 10.4 billion by 2100.

Demographers will never be sure if 15 November really was the Day of Eight Billion, as the UN has named it, but they do agree on one thing. Although the human population has grown rapidly, that growth is slowing—and, within a few decades, Earth’s population will begin to shrink.

 

 

To read the entire article, go to scientificamerican.com/article/the-world-population

News Worth Repeating!

Reminder for the holidays:

Missouri Department of Conservation, News from the Region, Statewide, Southeast
Published Date:  12/30/2021

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO – As the holiday season closes, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recommends offering your live Christmas tree – completely cleaned of all tinsel, lights, and ornaments – to fish and wildlife in your area, as they can utilize its branches as year-round shelter.

Salvador Mondragon, MDC Fisheries Management Biologist, said Christmas trees can easily be used to improve habitat in ponds, lakes, or even a backyard.

“Natural habitat is always preferred over artificial structures, and that makes live Christmas trees a great option,” he said. “Especially when larger trees aren’t available. But keep in mind Christmas trees won’t last long in a pond and will usually require adding on a yearly basis.”

Mondragon said clusters of 15 to 20 trees provide better fish habitat than one or two trees. He said to place trees in water depths where the tops are still visible from the surface, and that will ensure that the habitat is used year-round. The trees will provide added brush that gives fish resting areas, shade, and places to hide from predators.

Above water, MDC Community Forester Jennifer Behnken said recycled Christmas trees can be used for backyard habitat as “a special gift” for small wildlife, such as rabbits and reptiles.

“Real Christmas trees are a sustainable resource that provide a multitude of benefits until they are harvested for the Christmas season, including providing oxygen, air filtration, and wildlife habitat,” she said.

After the intended purpose for Christmas festivities, the trees continue to contribute the benefit of wildlife and natural resources, Behnken said.

“I place my living Christmas tree outside for brush habitat or for birds to take cover during the winter months,” she said. “It continues to break down as the year progresses, providing nutrients back to the soil and its legacy lives on in the natural world.”

Find information about live Christmas tree uses here.