Missouri Environmental Education News: October 2022

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

Table of Contents

  • Feature Article
  • Lesson Resources
  • Save the Date: 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 and Members,

I’ve had so much fun the last few weeks getting to meet ‘n greet in-person with people from all over the state – from convenings of the Association of Missouri Interpreters and Missouri Department of Conservation to visiting some Missouri Green Schools friends in Columbia and Springfield. There is so much happening with our friends and allies in environmental education, and it’s making me more excited than ever for the Kansas and Missouri Environmental Education Conference in Kansas City next month! 

On Nov. 4-6, MEEA and KACEE are once again co-hosting our annual EE conference. We have phenomenal keynote speakers and skilled and knowledgeable presenters, but best of all we will be together in-person! If you haven’t already registered, we encourage you to do that right away. And remember, organizational members receive one complimentary conference registration with any level of membership. 

We do have a few youth registration scholarships available – up to 10 available per state. They’re first-come, first-serve while funds are available. Take a look at this flyer to learn more about these youth scholarships and the sessions that would be most appealing to young people. 

If you can’t make it, we haven’t forgotten about you – we will share out our keynote sessions virtually, for free. Stay tuned for more information on that! 

Finally, we urge you to consider making a donation to our conference silent auction, to be held on Friday evening, 11/4. What could you donate that an environmental educator could use and enjoy? Classroom supplies? Materials for a cool outdoor experience? An actual experience? A book that you loved but probably won’t read again? If you have an item you’d like to donate, email me at moylan@meea.org

Can’t wait to see many of you in November!

Lesli Moylan, Executive Director



Feature Article: Tell Your Story with Graphs

I’m from Missouri, so, “Show Me”!

Most of us, let’s face it, are visual learners. Children are especially tuned in to concepts if they are shown, not just spoken to. We perk up when a science teacher creates a chemical reaction right before our eyes. (I don’t remember EVER perking up during my Physics lectures in college, which I’m sure is why I got a C.)

Tangible, sensory experiences (all of the senses, not just hearing) are the best strategies for revealing the meanings of phenomena in a way that “sticks.” After all, isn’t that what we strive for: information that creates long-term caring, understanding and eventually action on protecting the environment?

I’m a graph geek, I admit it! Graphs are my favorite visual learning devices. For example, if I just tell you that the earth’s average temperature has changed dramatically over the last 200 years, you might think, ok, so what? But if I SHOW the story that a graph tells, you will be able to not only understand that it has changed but you will notice that it has changed in a very obvious direction-UP. Check out this very current graph showing the global Land and Ocean average temperature change since 1880. It’s a timeline, and tells a very easy to understand story:



Have a discussion about climate change with a group of middle school students, and then show them the following graph; ask them, what do you see?



Graphs are useful to show good news, too. Look at the remarkable recovery of the American Bald Eagle (graphs can even be artistic).  What a great story! Our national symbol (and my favorite bird, if I had to choose just one) has come back from the brink thanks to the Endangered Species Act and the ban of the chemical DDT:



More great news shown graphically: Look at the improvement in the air quality of St. Louis (decrease in poor air quality days) thanks to multiple environmental improvements and more public awareness.  Thanks, environmental educators, and, nice job, St. Louis!



According to this OneSTL source, “Over the long term, air quality has improved in part due to mild summer weather as well as improvements in motor vehicle technology; cleaner burning gasoline; inspection/maintenance program; transportation projects to reduce congestion; ridesharing program and MetroLink; controls on industry and power plants; and individual behavior decisions.

Well said, but it’s even more convincing by looking at the graph showing the decrease in poor air quality days in STL over time, don’t you think?

You “see” my point. Use visuals such as graphs to explain natural phenomena to your audiences. Another perk…teachers will love it because analyzing data and graphing are in the Missouri Learning Standards, and even science MAP tests!



Jamin Bray

MEEA Assistant Director

(all graphs are presented with source links)

Released MAP Grade-Level Assessment, 8th Grade Science


Lesson Resources: Data Analysis and Graphing


Jamin Bray, MEEA Assistant Director

If you haven’t yet discovered the MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) MO LEAP lesson blocks, you might consider diving in.  These are new lessons across grade levels and the curriculum that are designed to help educators tackle specific MO Learning Standards.

According to DESE, the science lessons “engage students in phenomena and solving problems using high-quality tasks grounded in physical, life, and earth and space sciences as part of the Missouri Learning Standards.”  I chose this particular 6-8 grade lesson because it has an environmental theme and features my favorite visual tool: GRAPHS!

(click link for full leasson)  MO LEAP Graphing Lesson

Save the Date for the Annual MEEA Conference!

Optional Field Trips on Nov. 6, too!

We are encouraging Youth to attend and/or present at this event.  For more information on this special Youth Engagement opportunity, contact Lesli Moylan:  moylan@meea.org

**Register Now:



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:

NAAEE 2022: Educating for Change

October 12-15

Tucson, AZ

NAAEE Conference



Featured Grant:

MEEA Environmental Educator Mini-Grants (eight available annually); Proposal due date extended until October! Contact us ASAP!!

MEEA Mini-grants


Featured Workshops:

Teacher Workshops for MDC Discover Nature Schools

MDC Discover Nature Schools

JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Analyzing the Acronym “JEDIA.”

This month we explore

J =Justice

“Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”  energy.govt-environmental-justice

Check out the many resources on Environmental Justice provided by NAAEE:


emissions from an energy plant

Green Schools Corner

Becoming a “Green School” can mean so many different things…from the simple classroom tips we shared last month to enrolling in the Missouri Green School Program (meea.org/missouri-green-schools)

It can also include finding ways to bring gardening and fresh foods into your school environment.  This MU Extension link gives ideas and instructions on getting started with a “Farm to School” intitative in your community.

According to their website, “Farm to School (FTS) is any activity connecting schools to local food and farms. The main goals of FTS are to serve fresh, high-quality, locally grown food in school cafeterias; to provide agriculture, health and nutrition education; and to support local and regional farmers.

Missouri Farm to School works with schools, farmers, vendors and communities to get more fresh, flavorful foods to local cafeterias. By increasing access to these foods, we not only help the littlest Missourians develop healthy, life-long eating habits, but we also support family farmers and our economy. What are you waiting for? Try a little local today!”




No matter what, the best tip we at MEEA always give is simply: get outside with your kids as much as possible, no matter what subject you teach! It will be good for them AND you!

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.