Missouri Environmental Education News: Earth Day 2021 Edition

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

Table of Contents

  • Feature Article & Lesson
  • Kudos
  • Upcoming Events, Workshops & Grants
  • MEEA News Highlights

Dear MEEA Members,

April is always such a hopeful time. The miraculous events of seeds sprouting and leaves unfurling nourish our spirits throughout this month. Faith-based and secular groups celebrate rebirth and renewal. Earth Day presents an opportunity not only to reflect on what needs to be done but to celebrate the many ways people work for a healthy planet. And this year, April coincides with the vaccine rollout and the hope that better days are ahead.

Now that vaccination is in full swing, life is shifting quickly once again. As so many opportunities open up again, it is my hope that we won’t go back to the way we were, but that we will be much more intentional about so many things. Instead of using the phrase “return to normal” (what is “normal”, anyway?) how would you fill in this sentence? Post-pandemic, I hope to ___________. For me, I hope to continue a daily practice of yoga and establish journaling as a daily habit because it helps me sort out my priorities. I hope that I will learn how to slow down and find work-life balance.  And I hope to spend lots of time in nature and with family and friends, because that adds joy to my hopefulness. 

If you are so inclined, why not share your post-pandemic ponderings on the MEEA or MGS Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages? Malaya Siy, one of the amazing Missouri Green Schools VISTAs, has been working diligently to grow awareness of MEEA and MGS through social media. We’d love it if you’d check out her handiwork and share your thoughts there! 

In the meantime, please enjoy the newsletter and have a Happy Earth Day! 

Lesli Moylan, Executive Director

Article: Fostering a Generation of Earth Stewards


Jill Hollowell, MEEA Board Member and MGS Committee Member

Photos from the Ozarks Rivers Solid Waste Management District Earth Day Art Contest


Are you looking for inspiration as an environmental educator? The Missouri Recycling Association, known as MORA, is hosting a virtual Earth Day Stewardship Showcase on April 22. The showcase celebrates the many acts of stewardship state-wide through volunteer and school projects, businesses and community organizations. This uplifting offering is evidence of the good things happening in Missouri. You may request a showcase preview at the following link https://forms.gle/Kju6wA9LLnUijkca6

This year marks the 51st Earth Day celebration. Earth Day is the largest non-secular event celebrated world-wide. It is estimated that 1 billion people engage in celebrations, acts of stewardship, and advocacy on this day. Originally founded by Gaylord Nelson, then a Senator in Washington D.C., he made the environment a priority by protecting natural resources through advocacy, policies, and inspiring Earth stewardship.

While visiting a 5th grade classroom earlier this month, I chatted with students as they completed their Earth Day posters for the 30th Annual Earth Day Art Contest through Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District. After stating that 1 billion people celebrate world-wide, I held their attention. Did they know how many countries there are on Earth? Replies ranged from 30-200 countries. Responding with 197, they were asked, how many countries celebrate Earth Day? Students were astonished to hear that 193 countries celebrate Earth Day.

While viewing Earth Day posters, it was apparent that students regarded the Earth to be in poor health, understandably so. Our youth need to understand that today our air and waters are cleaner than 50 years ago, based on cleaner running cars. Earth Day allows us the opportunity to celebrate the progress made since 1970. Yes, today we have different challenges from plasticized oceans to climate change. Engaging in Earth Day can empower people through evidence of environmental stewardship creating change. Youth can also change their world. How? Truly the Missouri Green Schools (MGS) program is an ideal empowerment path.

“Our children often mirror the larger self-indulgence of a society organized around machines, instant gratification and excessive individualism” claims David Orr, who ushered the concept of ecological literacy. How can we support a new reflection? Let’s consider this amazing MGS outcome: the Parkway Board of Education approved the inclusion of the Parkway School District’s Principles of Education for Sustainability into the elementary science curriculum, guaranteeing that students across this district will understand that they share the Earth with many others, learn how their actions make a difference, and develop their systems thinking skills. Bravo!

This Earth Day let’s start with encouraging everyone to appreciate the beauty around us. It can be as simple as taking moments to notice what flowers are blooming and who’s buzzing as spring brings an explosion of life. Today is a day for each of us to reclaim our sense of wonder, our connection with the natural world. Nature reminds us of the awe and complexity of the world, from the tiniest insects to the grandeur of space itself.

For me, Earth Day has always been a heart-felt happening. Over the years I have coordinated large-scale events or simply relished in the interactions while hosting a booth. With the cancelation of Earth Day events last year, it felt essential to hold space for Earth Day this year. We hope you will join us for the Missouri Recycling Association’s Earth Day Stewardship Showcase, it’s all Missouri.

Want to Extend The Holiday?

The day after Earth Day attend a special webinar and demo about how to prevent and reduce wasted food at home. Speakers will share tips and interactive tools for food prep and storage, demonstrate meal planning and cooking with ends and stems, introduce the basics of hot composting and vermicomposting (composting with earth worms), and more! Presented by the Conservation Commons, uniting the Smithsonian’s cultural and scientific expertise to advance research and share knowledge to sustain Earth’s biodiverse ecosystems.

Friday, April 23, 2021
2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Central Time

Learn more and Register


Kudos to all practitioners of place-based education. The NGSS newsletter this month shared a resource called Problems with Problems: Improving the Design of Problem-Driven Science and Engineering Instruction. The main takeaway? Give kids problems to tackle that are grounded in the real-world and relevant to their everyday lives. This has always been a foundation of environmental, sustainabillity, and place-based education, and that’s one reason why it’s so effective.

Kudos to MEEA Member Mike Syzydlowski, Science Coordinator for Columbia Public Schools. Mike was recently nominated for Master Conservationist by the Missouri Conservation Commission. Mike works hard every day to embed a place-based philosophy into the science curriculum and practice at CPS, fostering kids’ connection to nature and academic success at the same time. “The simplest definition of place-based education is you’re learning all your standards from an environmental or community perspective,” Mike says.

Kudos to Chris Chin, director of Missouri Department of Agriculture for her Op-Ed in Missouri Ruralist. She draws parallels between best agricultural practices for animal health and the scientific response to COVID-19 for human health. She counteracts common misinformation and advocates that we take the same approach that farmers and ranchers use to protect their herds to protect the “human herd–your family, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your community”.

Kudos to GirlTrek, a health-focused nonprofit for Black women and girls in the United States. GirlTrek promotes a community of radical self-care through walking and spending transformative time in nature and the outdoors. Kansas City and St. Louis both have GirlTrek groups, and a weekly e-newsletter is available as well. Learn more at https://www.girltrek.org/

Kudos to MU Extension specialists for providing Spanish-language resources for Missourians. The latest? A virtual program series on Gardening Basics. Learn more at https://extension.missouri.edu/news/mu-extension-offers-online-vegetable-gardening-course-in-spanish-5028

Kudos to the school district in Batesville, Arkansas. This rural school district installed 1500 solar panels, and now uses the utility savings to give teachers annual bonuses of up to $15,000. What an inspiration! Did you know that more than 7,000 schools in the US are already capturing solar energy and yielding impressive cost-savings?



Featured Event: Spring Herbs Growing In Your Backyard, May 19 @ 4pm, A MEEA and KACEE event


Featured Grant: MO DNR Scrap Tire Material Grants (for products made from old tires) — Deadline: April 30, 2021


Featured Workshop: Inspiration for How to Get Started with EE Advocay and Why to START NOW! with Sarah Bodor of NAAEE (Recording)


Missouri Green Schools Partner Network

  • The Missouri Green School Partnership Network will meet on Thursday, May 13 from 9:30 am-noon. Missouri Green Schools is a program of the Missouri Environmental Education Association and the U.S. Green Building Council-Missouri Gateway Chapter. Partners are an integral part of this structure, as you provide critical resources for our enrolled MGS schools in addition to strengthening your own networks amongst each other. If your organization can help provide the tools and resources to help schools to set and track environmental, health, and sustainability education goals and/or assist with achieving educational equity, we want you there! May 13 meeting – Our goal for this time is to move forward on a structure for leading and joining the MGS Partner Network, plus we’ll be sharing the approved Missouri Green Schools Mission and Vision Statements!

    Register at the following link: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/XvpiCkGKoNpcl2WMHZkEAA