Missouri Environmental Education News: September 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,

Wow, thank you to everyone who has renewed their membership in the last month!  Please welcome Organizational Members: City of Springfield Environmental Services Department, Fat Daddy’s Farm Foundation, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Prairie Foundation, Missouri River Bird Observatory, St. Louis Zoo, U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter, Washington University Tyson Research Center, and the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks.

The support that Membership provides for MEEA is quite tangible:

1. It helps cover compensation for our new staff member, Jamin Bray.  Jamin is already increasing our reach across the state and especially into rural Missouri, a goal dear to her heart.  She’s been making connections, sharing resources, and providing support to several rural schools already…not to mention creating this newsletter every month!

2. Simply put, the number of Official Members can help MEEA demonstrate to our funders the need for MEEA resources.

We know that a MEEA Membership will benefit our members in many ways as well.  Thinking about going to the conference?  Members get discounts!  Want to apply for a MEEA mini-grant?  Members can do that!  Want to be recognized for your EE work? Members are eligible for MEEA awards!  Want to earn EE Certification?  Members are eligible to go on that journey!  Our Board of Directors is currently engaged in strategic planning, and Member Services has already been identified as a top priority for 2023-2025. As a member, you have the opportunity to tell us how we can better serve you so we can tailor our goals to match your needs.

If you haven’t joined or renewed already, please help us today by clicking the button below, and help us bring environmental education the attention it deserves.

With sincere thanks,
Lesli Moylan, Executive Director

Become a Member


Feature Article: Adventures in the Woods

I am very proud of the fact that I raised two independent young men. They had enough confidence to leave their home state of Missouri and move to another part of the country. Both of my sons and their families live on the East Coast, one in Pennsylvania and one in Virginia.  Since my sons have married and have their own families, it has become very important for me to connect with their children since I don’t get to be with them frequently.

I have made memories with my grandchildren by having “Camp Nana” every summer. We gather in one location (PA or VA) and do crafts, bake cookies and have tea parties. This summer I wanted to do something a little different. I created a fantasy story and my grandchildren were the characters in my story. We went to a local park that had a Nature Trail. I was an Enchantress whose pet dragon was kidnapped by an evil wizard.  My granddaughters volunteered to be my warriors to help me get my dragon back. We walked along the Nature Trail and collected clues concerning the whereabouts of my kidnapped dragon.  While we walked the trail and collected clues, I identified birds by their songs and shared them with the kids. I showed them pictures of what the birds looked like when we couldn’t see them. We heard tree frogs, owls, cicadas, and the sound of a brook.  We watched minnows and little crawdads in the water, worms crawling on the bank, and tiny frogs hopping about.

We didn’t find my pet dragon that day (we had many other places to search for it!) but the day in the forest was the kids’ favorite place during the week of “Camp Nana.” Check out Nature Trails in your area. A simple walk is enough to get children looking for birds, trees and wildlife. But you could also make up a story to create more fun. Use your imagination! For nature trails, caves and hiking in Missouri and near where you live, visit the following websites:

See Missouri 


Missouri State Parks


And have FUN!!!




Joan Ruppert, RN, MSN, EdD

MEEA Board Member and retired as faculty from University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Nursing.

Lesson Resources: Fantasy, Stories and Dramatic Play Out in Nature

Jamin Bray, MEEA Assistant Director
I can’t think of better lessons to compliment Joan Ruppert’s lovely article, Adventures in the Woods, than to introduce you to two over-the-top inspiring resources that can help all of us follow her advice.

If you’re not aware of the genious document/curriculum “Growing Up Wild,” I highly recommend it, especially if you want to share the outdoors and nature experiences with very young children such as Joan’s grandkids.  Every single lesson includes background facts relative to the lesson theme, vocabulary, and detailed preparation and prodecures. They all also include fantastic extension ideas, such as imaginative Take Me Outside and healthy activities, fine arts connections (such as drama, art, and music), community service ideas, crafts, and even snacks!

Growing Up WILD: Ages 3-7: Exploring Nature with Young Children, Council for Environmental Education (CEE), 4th Edition, 2011. ISBN 0615459250, 9780615459257


Adventures in Nature Resources

  • I’ve also included a US Forest Service site that has multiple links to great lesson sources, and one of the best videos I’ve seen about the need for children to connect with nature.  Be ready, it’s so well done and inspiring, it might just give you goosebumps! https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r6/learning/parents-teachers

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
  • One Communications/Marketing position:  Raise awareness, participation and support of the Missouri Green Schools program throughout the state, and develop skills in website and social media management. (This position has been filled)



Featured Event:

Association of Missouri Interpreters Conference, Sept 20-22, St. Joseph, MO

AMI Conference



Featured Grant:

MEEA Environmental Educator Mini-Grants (eight available); Proposal due Sept 15.

MEEA Mini-grants


Featured Workshops:

Teacher Workshops for MDC Discover Nature Schools

MDC Discover Nature Schools

JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

The Acronym “JEDIA” is a mouthful and can be confusing.

This month let’s explore the I and the A!

If we want to understand JEDIA and how important it is in Environmental Education, we need to start at the beginning.

This 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!

Green Schools Corner

Those of you who are teachers across the state have probably just set up your classrooms and started a new school year, with all kinds of hopes and dreams of successes inside the classroom.  Some may also be thinking about successes OUTSIDE the classrom, and are perhaps looking into the multitude of grant possibilities for green spaces coming your way this time of year (go to our “grants” link to find out more).

That’s wonderful, and we’re here to help whenever we can!  In the mean time, there are some things a teacher can do to make your school (or at least your classroom!) “Green.” Here are some tips we found from weareteachers.com (kudos to them for making “sustainability” a priority!). Our favorites are #27 (sustainability!), and #42 (Team up with organizations-hey-that could be us!!):



No matter what, the best tip we at MEEA can 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

Increasing and Improving Environmental Journalism

Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk expands coverage of local environment and agriculture news with new grant

COLUMBIA, Mo. (July 31, 2023) — The Missouri School of Journalism today announced a $2.47 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation in support of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, a network of journalists that provides coverage of agriculture, water and environmental issues centered around the Mississippi River Basin to news media nationwide free of charge. The grant extends the foundation’s support of the Desk for three more years and represents a more than $1 million increase over the Desk’s founding grant in 2021.

“At a time when local news deserts are a concern throughout the country, the Desk is an oasis of strong, local environmental coverage,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “We are thankful for the Walton Family Foundation’s expanded support, which speaks to the profound needs the Desk is addressing in the industry and in communities throughout the basin.”

With this support, the Desk will place a second cohort of 10 journalists in newsrooms throughout the basin for up to three years beginning next summer. As before, the journalists will be hired through a partnership with Report for America (RFA) and will receive training and mentorship from experts at the School of Journalism and the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ). Interested newsrooms can apply to Report for America by the deadline of Sept. 18.

In addition, reporters from the first cohort that started in 2022 have the option to remain for a third year, which is expected to result in a larger network of reporters next year. A list of newsrooms and reporters already in the program can be found at the Desk’s website.

“Over the last two years, this unique program has proven to be highly successful at increasing and improving environmental journalism in local news deserts,” said Meaghan Parker, executive director of SEJ. “Its comprehensive approach leverages the strengths of each partner to combine three key pillars: sustainable local newsroom capacity, regional collaboration and mentoring, and national networking and convening. SEJ is pleased to continue to be a part of this innovative and important effort to better inform local communities across the basin and leaders across the country.”

“Collaborations like this are helping newsrooms bring greater awareness of the issues that affect the daily lives of millions of people living within the Mississippi River Basin through a local lens,” said Kim Kleman, executive director of Report for America. “With this added funding, we’ll not only be able to expand coverage but provide our corps members with the mentoring and editing support they need to better serve their communities through their reporting.



Mississippi River Basin

This map says it all...We are all connected!