Missouri Environmental Education News: September 2021

Welcome to the lastest edition of MEEA's Newsletter
NAAEE ESSER Webinar Flyer

Table of Contents

    • Featured Article
    • What to Look for Outdoors Right Now
    • Kudos
    • Upcoming Events, Workshops & Grants
    • News from the Field

Dear MEEA Members,

There are two big things at the top of my mind this month to share with you. First, this Thursday at noon Central Time, NAAEE will host a webinar on using ESSER (COVID relief) funds to support environmental and outdoor education. There is still time to register and help spread the word to your networks, ESPECIALLY to decision-makers in your local school districts. I’m especially thrilled that one of my favorite superintendents in Missouri, Dr. Sharonica Hardin-Bartley of University City School District, will be on the call highlighting why and how she is incorporating environmental education across her school district! I hope you can join the conversation live, but rest assured that I’ll be sending y’all the recording just as soon as I have it.

The second big item is that the MEEA annual conference is right around the corner, from Nov. 3-6. We’re co-hosting virtually again with KACEE this year Wednesday through Friday (11/3-11/5) with regional in-person meetups on Saturday 11/6 in the morning. From the opening keynote by Kathy Ambrosini (Director of Education at the Mohonk Preserve) to the closing plenary by CJ Goulding (Consultant and Partner with the Avarna Group), we will learn and reflect together on how to make EE truly for Everyone, Everywhere. 

Back by popular demand, we’ll also have fun social events each evening of the conference:

  • Movie Night–grab some popcorn and your family!
  • Game Night–will we be playing Flyswatter again, I wonder??!!
  • Drink of the Conference–for the 21+ crowd
  • Youth Trivia Night–organized by students at Rock Bridge High School for high school and college age youth across Missouri (need not register for conference to attend)

If you’re ready to learn new information, be inspired, and connect with friends old  and new, get yourself registered! 

Learn more at https://meea.org/professional-development/annual-conference/

Lesli Moylan

P.S. If finances are a barrier to attending the conference, shoot me an email and we’ll work something out. If you want to attend, we want you there!

Article: Growing Food Relationships


Jill Hollowell, MEEA Board member and Environmental Programs Specialist at Meramec Regional Planning Commission

While attending a Bioneers conference addressing environmental/social justice issues some fifteen years ago, a highpoint was the celebration of a 100-mile luncheon (all food harvested within a 100-mile radius). The intensity of the celebratory chanting “Food IS the Revolution” truly came to light when witnessing a young child rhythmically handwashing and independently chanting “Food IS the Revolution”.  

That conference was in Detroit and at that time, Detroit was considered a food desert. Today, Detroit thrives with twenty-one urban farms. Their food security was improved through community farms and school-based gardens providing agricultural education. The growing of food has revolutionized their communities.

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access to adequate food due to lack of money or lack of food resources. Take notice during your travels. Missouri’s landscape has changed over the last five years with an influx of discount dollar stores. Discount stores rarely offer fresh or healthy food.  Additionally, real grocery stores are not apt to move into a community if there is competition from a discount store. Some states are taking a stand and mandating discount stores stock 15% of their inventory with fresh food.

What might it look like if we made food a top educational priority? If you read MEEA’s August newsletter, there was news that Missouri DESE is processing $3 billion in Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds. These funds can and should be used for outdoor learning and environmental education. Here’s an inspiring four-minute story on the phenomenal impacts of a school garden https://youtu.be/w49C-oF_hqo  

Take a first step this fall by designating a garden area in your schoolyard and start with the importance of healthy soils for growing healthy food. It could be as easy as watching a pumpkin decompose and having students journal as the pumpkin decomposes naturally. Students especially enjoy observing animal tracks and writing about who visited the pumpkin to take a nibble. Some communities are holding “Smashing Pumpkins” events to encourage composting and to prevent pumpkins from entering our landfills. 

There is an outstanding presentation, Food Too Good to Waste, (an online composting curriculum grades 4-12) happening on September 25 – Science Teachers of Missouri (STOM) virtual conference. The Food Too Good to Waste project will be presented by Stan Slaughter and Katy White and it engages everyone in the value of food and composting. You may register for the STOM conference at this link: https://bit.ly/3nLZx7l

Valuing food – learning about food production, consumption and its impacts on our environment and lives informs our consumer decisions. With a stronger food connection, we’ll be better equipped to create a more authentic food relationship. 

fresh produce display
children maintaining a garden plot
poster calls attention to pumpkin waste
"If you eat, you are involved in agriculture" - Wendell Berry

September 29 is an International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste as declared by the United Nations. Let’s make it known that when food is wasted, all the resources that were used to produce this food – water, energy, labor and capital – all go to waste too. Lead the way in becoming a Food Waste Warrior! at https://www.worldwildlife.org/teaching-resources/toolkits/be-a-food-waste-warrior

What to Look for Outdoors Right Now

bottomland forest


Kudos to MEEA members Carrie Launius, Phyllis Balcerzak, David Bruns, and Matthew Magoc for their work to create MLS-aligned place-based science curriculum for St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS). This pre-K through 5th grade curriculum resource will be completed this school year, and is part of an ongoing collaborative effort among many organizations to provide outdoor and place-based education opportunities for kids and PD for teachers in the district.

Kudos to Susan Flowers and co-authors for their recent article “Crafting Field Station and Marine Lab Communities for Undergraduate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” published in the Ecological Society of America’s July journal edition. The authors suggest concrete changes field stations can make to be more equitable and inclusive places.

Kudos to the city of Kansas City, MO for committing to an all-electric fleet for new vehicle purchases as part of its’ pledge to be carbon neutral citywide by 2040. City Manager Brian Platt signed the new policy to change the city’s vehicle purchasing policy to full-battery, all-electric vehicles where available. Air pollution contributes to the high rate of asthma in the central city, so reducing gas emissions will make breathing easier for many residents. Additionally, increasing the use of electric vehicles will help the city achieve its climate protection goals.

Do you have Kudos for the MEEA Newsletter? Send them to moylan@meea.org!



Sept. 30 – NAAEE’s Event on Using COVID Relief Funds for Outdoor Learning and EE


Mid-Missouri SWMD Small Grants Apps due Oct. 8


Sept. 29 12pm-1pm Teach Climate Network Workshop: Extreme Weather Phenomenon


News from the Field

Green Schoolyards America Survey

Green Schoolyards America is conducting a survey, on behalf of the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative, to better understand how PreK-12 schools are using the outdoors during the pandemic and beyond. Did you take learning outside last year? Are you planning to build outdoor classrooms this year to support the health and safety of your students? Did you face challenges that made it difficult to move the school day outside? Green Schoolyards wants to hear from you!

The data gathered through this survey will provide a broad understanding of the state of outdoor learning and reveal additional outdoor learning examples to share. These examples will provide educational institutions with a wider range of perspectives and practices that show using outdoor spaces is possible, successful, and desirable on a large scale. They’d also like to understand more about what is holding back schools and districts that are interested in going outside but have been unable to do so thus far.

Input sought from the PreK-12 education sector through county- and state-level staff, district administration, principals, teachers, and parents. They’re are also asking design professionals and nonprofit partners to tell us about their support of outdoor space design and learning during this time. The survey is designed to split into role-specific questions.

In addition, all school district administrators and principals who complete the survey by October 1, 2021 will be entered into a drawing to win one of three grand prizes designed to help you with your outdoor learning journey. Green Schoolyards America staff will offer each of the winners a 2-hour consultation or presentation about schoolyard design and outdoor learning.

  • Complete the survey by October 1, 2021 to be entered into a drawing to win one of three grand prizes
  • The survey will close on November 1, 2021
  • Prize drawings will take place on November 9, 2021

NAAEE's Annual Conference and Research Symposium

Research Symposium- Oct. 7 – 8

Conference – Oct. 12-15

Learn more and register at: naaee.org

Symposium info: NAAEE’s annual Research Symposium brings together new and experienced researchers from around the globe to explore the current state and future directions of environmental education research and advance the use of practices proven to be effective. The symposium fosters discussion and collaboration among members of the EE research field, including researchers, policymakers, and practitioners at all stages of their careers. Participants can meet with colleagues and mentors to discuss publishing and career advice and issues and concerns in the world of research. We will also highlight graduate student research in this year’s program.

Reflecting the general theme—the power of connection— sessions will promote dialogue and encourage praxis as we confront myriad challenges, ranging from climate change to environmental, economic, and racial injustices. Panels, roundtable discussions, and posters reflect two tracks: Method and Theory and Pedagogy and Programming.

Conference info: Our 2021 conference will bring together leaders, decision-makers, researchers, practitioners, teachers, and students from around the world. As we look back at the past fifty years and think ahead to the next fifty, we’ll explore how education can help navigate interlinked environmental, social, cultural, and political systems. Together, we will unpack and underscore how creating a more inclusive and equitable environmental movement is vital to a sustainable future, and we’ll reflect on the unparalleled benefits nature brings to our health, psyche, and capacity to thrive in a complex and changing world.

The Annual Conference will offer inspiring and thoughtful keynotes, a rich variety of workshops, symposia, traditional sessions, research panels, roundtable discussions, bright spots, and posters, along with great opportunities for networking, growth, and change. We look forward to connecting!