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

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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)




Jamin Bray

MEEA Assistant Director


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

Lesson Resources: Inclusive Pre-school Programming

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.


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:



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!



Vista Positions Available

Current Open VISTA Positions


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 Event:

MEEA 2022 Annual Conference

November 4 – 6





Featured Grant:

Sand County Foundation- School Grants



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:



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:


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

Let us know what YOU need: NEW DEADLINE: July 1st

Calling all School Teachers and Administrators!!

We STILL REALLY need your help!

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

What does that mean?  It means, how can we show you WHO and WHERE environmental education is happening in our state, so you can access services, and we can fill the gaps for those of you that are underserved and need help with academic achievement, teacher retention, and engaging education approaches..

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.

**If you haven't already, please TAKE THE SURVEY: PreK-12 EE providers survey for PEEPs

email us with questions, comments and feedback.