Missouri Environmental Education News: September 2023

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

Table of Contents

  • Feature Article
  • Lesson Resources
  • Annual Conference & Professional Development
  • Featured Events, Grants, & Workshops
  • JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility
  • Green Schools Corner
  • Missouri Nature Phenomena This Month
  • News from the Field

Howdy, everyone!

We at MEEA are moving forward on so many of our core strategic priorities! 

One that has moved to the front burner this month is a focus on the efficiency of our Board of Directors-approved staffing plan. To streamline our tasks and make sure that we stay determined to serve our mission, members and supporters, our BOD has approved the update of our two staff positions to “Co-Directors.”

This is more than just a change of titles…Lesli and I each have our own skill-sets, experience and expertise to bring to the organization.  We are now doing our work focused on those particular “lanes,”  while still collaborating constantly on reaching MEEA’s strategic objectives.  Lesli and I as Co-Directors are proud and excited about how our thoughtful BOD has helped us move forward with this important change, and we now want to make those we serve proud of the important work we do moving forward!

MEEA recently received a comment from one of our supporting organizations that we are “lean and mighty!”  We take that as both the ultimate compliment on our impact, but at the same time a challenge to keep that impact going! 

Lesli and I have a quirky affirmation/toast that we often share with each other to remind us of our dedication to this organization as me move “mightily” on : 

Here’s to MEEA! and Here’s to YOU-A!

Cheers 🙂


Lesli Moylan (right) and Jamin Bray (left) MEEA Co-Directors

Feature Article:

Describing The Changing Seasons–An Imaginative Explanation

When I was in the 3rd grade, my teacher introduced the class to Greek mythology. I found the story of Persephone and Hades to be the most intriguing. The ancient Greek myth of Persephone and Hades is not only a captivating tale of love and transformation, but it also serves as an allegorical explanation for the changing season, particularly the transition from summer to fall and the subsequent shortening of days. This myth weaves together themes of nature, the underworld, and the cycles of life and death.

According to the myth, Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld. As the story goes, Hades is struck by Persephone’s beauty and desires her as his queen in the realm of the dead. One day while Persephone was picking flowers in a meadow, Hades emerged from the earth and whisked her away to his realm. 

Persephone’s absence plunged her mother, Demeter, into grief and despair. Demeter’s sorrow was so profound that she withdrew her blessings from the Earth, causing crops to wither and die. Famine and barrenness swept across the land, prompting the other gods to intervene. Zeus eventually intervened and requested Hades to return Persephone to the surface world.

However, there was a twist. Before leaving the underworld, Hades tricked Persephone into eating pomegranate seeds, binding her to his realm. As a result, Persephone had to spend a portion of each year in the underworld, symbolizing the winter months. Her return to the surface world marked the arrival of spring and summer, when Demeter’s joy would bring life back to the Earth.

This myth beautifully mirrors the changing seasons and the shortening of days during the fall. Persephone’s descent into the underworld represents the transition from the warmer months of summer to the colder months of fall and winter. As Persephone departs, Demeter’s grief causes the Earth’s vegetation to wither, symbolizing the fading vibrancy of summer. The shorter days and cooler temperatures reflect this withdrawal of Demeter’s blessings and her focus on the realm of the dead.

Persephone’s annual return to the surface world parallels the arrival of spring and summer. Just as Demeter’s happiness brings about the resurgence of life and growth, Persephone’s presence marks the return of warmer weather and longer days. The myth thus offers an imaginative explanation for the cyclical changes in nature, from the abundance of summer to the dormancy of winter.

The story of Persephone and Hades also underscores the interconnectedness of life, death, and transformation. The myth portrays the journey to the underworld not as a bleak end but as a transformative experience. Persephone’s time spent with Hades reflects the hidden growth and renewal that occur within the Earth during the colder months. Similarly, her return to the surface world symbolizes the emergence of life from dormancy, echoing the reawakening of plants and animals during the spring. The myth’s themes of transformation, cycles of life and death, and the interplay between the human and natural worlds resonate with the changing of seasons, reminding us of the profound beauty and complexity of nature.


Article submitted by:

Stacey Parker

MEEA Board Member

Photo and lesson resources submitted by Jamin Bray


Lesson Resources

Bears Through the Seasons

A fantastic unit designed specifically for Kindergarten by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

This Discover Nature School (DNS) program, Kindergarten: Bears Through the Seasons, is designed specifically for Kindergarten students. This curriculum is aligned to all Missouri Learning Science (MLS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) including the four components of Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, Life Science and Engineering and Technology Science.

This curriculum follows the four seasons with 4 seasonal units and 23 lessons. All lessons are wrapped under the anchoring phenomena of Missouri Black Bears and their habitat. All lessons use the 5E instruction model beginning with Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate and tie into Missouri-focused phenomena and investigative questions such as “What lives in my schoolyard?”, “How do bears get their food using pushes and pulls?”, “Why do plants grow in different places?”.

For complete lesson details: education.mdc.mo.gov/workshops/bears-through-seasons




For as long as I have been an educator (both nonformal and formal), I’ve always been amazed at the quality of the MDC curriculum that has been created and provided for our state’s teachers.  This new unit presents a fresh take on the long-time Kindergarten standards that relate to the seasons.  Using Black Bears as nature’s storytellers, children can explore Missouri’s seasons and the way wild animals adapt to change.  By the way, it is aligned across Missouri Learning Standards and  NGSS, and has extensions across several other subject areas, including English and Math!

I absolutely LOVE this unit, and I know you will, too.  For more information on how to receive training and order materials, go to:


Annual Conference & Upcoming Professional Development

Update on MEEA Annual Conference!

Registration is OPEN


Each year in early November, formal and nonformal educators gather from around the state to network and learn about environmental education together. This year’s theme is Sharing Hope and Inspiring Action, and we invite you to share your story and expertise with others.


For more information and to register:  

Thanks in advance to our generous Conference Host:email us with questions.

Only One More Awesome Summer PD Opportunity

Register Now!

Coming up Saturday, September 9 at Thousand Hills State Park

Registration is required; go to: secure.lglforms.com/Active Link

Our first two summer workshops at Roaring River and Sam A Baker State Parks were a hit!  Check out a few comments from our attendees about what they found effective about this workshop approach:

          • “The outdoor activity.  I think there are so many ways to go with that.”
          • “I loved the hands-on activities and the way it was adapted to meet all the hats we wear as educators.”
          • “…excellent job relating the workshop to formal/nonformal educators, 1st vs 6th vs High School educators; made it useful for all.  Loved doing the activities.”
          • “Key concepts are well-explained, the topics presented are local and personal, the lessons themselves are extremely adaptable.” 



Featured Event:

Association of Missouri Interpreters (AMI) Conference

September 11-14

Macon, MO

Registration is Open!



Featured Grant:

The Mid-Missouri Solid Waste Management District

Grants available for waste reduction or diversion projects

Deadline to apply Sept 15, 2023



Featured Workshop:

MDC hosts DNS Kindergarten Teacher Training Workshop

Sept. 20 Powder Valley Nature Center

Kirkwoood, MO


JEDIA: Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility

Telling more Equitable, Impactful and Interconnected Stories.

youtube.com/more information

The mission of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk is to enhance the quantity, quality and impact of journalism on agriculture, water and related issues throughout the basin.

Why cover agriculture and water? The Mississippi River Basin spans nearly half of the continental United States. Millions of residents rely on the river system for drinking water, commerce and recreation. More than 90% of America’s agricultural exports are grown in the Mississippi River Basin, including more than three-quarters of the world’s exports in feed grains, and most of the country’s livestock. More than 70% of nitrate pollution in the Mississippi River comes from agriculture, which harms human health and aquatic life and contributes to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the impacts of climate change become more severe, residents can expect more extreme weather, including flooding. See our coverage of these and other pressing issues in the basin at our stories page. By making resources available on this beat, we support more complete coverage of these critical topics. As our reporters build deeper knowledge, they tap into a network of newsrooms, experts, and support that will help them tell more equitable, impactful and interconnected stories. How do we maintain editorial independence? The Ag & Water Desk and its collaborators operate with editorial independence, both from funders and from the University of Missouri or any other parent entity. 

(See News From the Field section for an update on this important program!)






Green Schools Corner

This Month’s Focus:  Partner Network

Join the Partner Network by filling out this brief survey

Once completed, you will receive a link to enter your programs and services into our searchable Partner Network Resource Directory available on our website and used to connect schools directly with your work.


Missouri Gateway Green Building Council and Missouri Environmental Education Association engage partners across the state to support schools in their Show-Me Green Schools efforts. Partners are an integral part of the program, providing critical resources for enrolled schools in addition to strengthening their own networks among each other.

  • Provide a program or service that helps schools advance in at least one of the three pillars.
  • Fill out survey annually to communicate your offerings to be included in resource directory
  • Attend annual SMGS Partner Network meeting
  • Promote SMGS programs to schools and partners
  • Celebrate schools in your region and their accomplishments
  • Provide active support to at least one participating school (Low-income school preferred)


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!