Spring-o!

Check out this fun event for kids in Stevens Point this Sunday from 1-3:30pm.  I believe they are looking for volunteers to run scavenger hunt stations as well if you are in the area.  Beware, though…it’s messy! ;)

Check out the flyer for more information: Springo

Spring O

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Seeking High-school Respondents for State Parks Careers Survye

UW-Stevens Point professor Kristin Floress is seeking help from high school teachers and their students to complete a survey for her research in collaboration with Wisconsin State Parks.  The letter below describes more about the research, which will help to design an outreach program to promote careers in the state parks.  Dr. Floress is seeking survey responses from students by April 8th.

Link to Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/wspstudent

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Dr. Kristin Floress, UWSP

Letter from Dr. Floress:

Dear Student,

The Wisconsin State Park System is looking to hire quality individuals to work in the state parks. Over the years, as our society has moved into the Computer Age or Digital Age, there are greater career opportunities in all fields. There is an ongoing attempt to create awareness of the Wisconsin State Park system. There is also an attempt to try to understand what impacts the career motivations of high school students, and to discover the best ways to communicate with high school students. In order to meet these goals, Kristin Floress and her class at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point are conducting a study.

You are being asked to take this survey, which should take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. After the survey is over, you will not be asked to do anything else for this project.

The information will be used to design outreach programs to promote careers with Wisconsin State Parks. This study will also attempt to assist students in their future career paths, and will help us to understand how to better market careers with Wisconsin State Parks to students like you in the future.

Even if you have never visited a Wisconsin State Park or you have little interest in the outdoors, your input will be helpful to our understanding. In other words, we need to hear from you!

We are not asking your name or any other information that could identify you — your participation is completely anonymous. If you have any questions about this research, you can contact Kristin Floress at kfloress@uwsp.edu or 715.346.4135. If you would like more information about this project, contact Carolyn Morgen at carolyn.morgen@wisconsin.gov

Thank you for your participation.

Sincerely,

Kristin Floress, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Carolyn Morgen, Superintendent, High Cliff State Park

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Lake Superior Youth Symposium

This event looks like a great opportunity for students and teachers to connect with the Great Lakes and each other.  Check out this press release and the Lake Superior Youth Symposium website for more information!

lake superior youth

Press release from the website:

For Immediate Release:  March 12, 2013

The 10th Biennial Lake Superior Youth Symposium will engage 400 Gr. 7-12 students and teachers from the states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and the Province of Ontario—who live in or care about Lake Superior and the Great Lakes watersheds. This four-day event will take place May 16-19, 2013 at Michigan Technological University in Houghton. The symposium will provide students with the opportunity to interact with scientists, historians, natural resource managers, artists, musicians and environmental educators as they explore Lake Superior and its watershed through hands-on investigations, field trips and inspiring presenters.  Symposium participants will be tasked with developing a plan for a stewardship project that they can implement in their local community following the symposium.

Presenters include Michigan Tech faculty and students, Isle Royale National Park, Ottawa National Forest, Copper Country Trout Unlimited, WaterWalkers, Keweenaw Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Superior Watershed Partnership, Blue Heron Drums, Global Cities, model student groups, and many, many more.

The cost is $140 per student or teacher which covers 3 nights lodging in Michigan Tech University Residence Hall, all meals from Thursday dinner through Sunday lunch, and all field trips, presenters and activities. Payment due by April 15th by check payable to: Copper Country ISD
Register your group online at: http://lakesuperioryouth.org  Mail payment to: Loret Roberts, LSYS Registration, Copper Country ISD, 809 Hecla Street, Hancock, MI 49930.

Through their experiences, as well as the opportunity to interact with students from around “the lakes,” students will gain new knowledge and problem-solving skills to bring back to their schools and communities.

The symposium is coordinated by the Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education and Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, and is made possible with funding from the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth Force, Michigan Space Grant Consortium, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, and Superior Watershed Partnership. 
Watch the symposium videohttp://youtu.be/CKlmohDJupU

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Wisconsin Schools Nominated for National Green Ribbon Award

Four Wisconsin schools have recently been nominated for the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award.  The nomination was made by State Superintendent Tony Evers several weeks ago, and included Jefferson Elementary-Fox River Academy in the Appleton Area School District, Summit Environmental School in the La Crosse School District, Westlawn Elementary School in the Cedarburg School District, and Racine Montessori School in Racine.  Additionally, Evers has nominated Fort Atkinson School District for a District Sustainability Award.Green_Ribbon_Schools-533x300

Schools are nominated for Green Ribbon awards due to efforts that  save energy & reduce costs, utilize sustainable learning spaces, foster health & wellness, and boost student academic achievement through environmental education and community engagement.
“I commend these nominees for helping students and staff members work at improving the overall health and environment of their larger school community,” Evers said.  The nomination process is not easy, and requires thorough data collection and reporting on school policies and practices.

Applicaitons will be reviewed at both the state and federal levels.  Reviewers will take into account the schools’ ability to demonstrate progress toward each of the three Green Ribbon Schools Pillars.  Pillars include actions that will:

  • reduce the schools’ environmental impact and costs
  • improve the health and wellness of students and staff members
  • provide effective environmental and sustainability education

Winners of the Green Ribbon awards will be announced, appropriately, on Earth Day.

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Wisconsin Master Naturalist Program Launches

Beginning this month, Wisconsin will officially have a volunteer Master Naturalist Program.  Wisconsin Master Naturalists (WIMN) will provide service in the areas of education & interpretation, stewardship, and citizen science.  The training is ofered to anyone interested in natural resources in the state of Wisconsin.  WIMN follows successful initiatives in more than 25 other states, and is a program of the University of Wisconsin-Extension.  The program has alremaster naturalist1ady launched two pilot programs in Madison and Ashland, described in the newsletter below:

WI Master Naturalist News Fall 2012

Upcoming trainings are as follows:

WIMN “Train the Trainers” initiative March 21-22 in Stevens Point.  If you are already a practicing naturalist or environmental educator and are interested in leading WIMN training programs, this is for you!  Contact Kate Reilly, WI State Director at klreilly@wisc.edu.

Wisconsin Master Naturalist classes: Wehr Nature Center, Milwaukee – Thursday evenings from April 18-June 13. More information here: http://www.friendsofwehr.org/fow-naturalist.html

master naturalist 2Note: photos are from Master Naturalist programs in other states, available online.  Wisconsin is looking forward to the launch of it’s Master Naturalist website later this month!

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Universities Going Green

Hi folks!

Here is a neat “infographic” that was recently shared with us from master-of-education.org.  The direct link to the infographic: http://www.master-of-education.org/sustainability/

 

green-universities

 

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Community Works Journal

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Free subscription for educators!

I love things that are free – and especially things related to education.  Plenty of educators looking to improve their teaching are just short on cash.  In the age of information, we are lucky to have plenty of resources available for free, but sometimes it is difficult to wade through all the junk to get to the good stuff.  Here is a piece of the good stuff, especially for those interested in a community-focused approach.

According to the Community Works Institute website, the journal “features essays and reflections along with curriculum overviews that highlight the importancsocjusticeurbgard_sme of place, service, and sustainability to a relevant and meaningful education.”

One of the articles featured recently by the journal is entitled Not a Chain Link or a Picket Fence: Social Justice Pedagogy in an Urban Garden Project.  

I definitely recommending checking out this neat EE program featured in the journal.  The journal is also open to a variety of different submissions – a great opportunity to make EE a prominent voice in this excellent resource!

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MacKenzie Environmental Education Center School Based Programs Threatened

from WAEE Member, Ruth Ann Lee:

School based environmental education programs at the MacKenzie Environmental Education Center

The WI DNR has proposed to end its most highly successful environmental education (EE) program and making major changes (including a shooting range) at the MacKenzie Center – all without any local input from the community or from the participating schools.

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16,000 kids every year will be deprived of an important environmental education experience.    DNR needs to consider that the current school based programs can be continued at MacKenzie are fully consistent with their new proposed Outdoor Skills program.   Continuing the current school-based environmental education program at MacKenzie will only cost the DNR a net of $185,000 out of their annual $500 million budget.  We want to keep MacKenzie open long term for school based environmental education programing in conjunction with DNR’s increased emphasis on hunting, fishing, and trapping based training, but with public input.   If you would like to voice your opinion on this issue contact the DNR Secretary, the Natural Resource Board (NRB), Senator Olson and Representative Ripp and Governor Walker.  You can also attend the Natural Resources Board meeting on February 27th (note: attendees must sign up by 4pm on Tues 2/19, contact below).

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, 608-266-2121, dnrsecretary@wisconsin.gov

Natural Resources Board, Laurie Ross, laurie.ross@wisconsin.gov

Senator Luther Olson, 608-266-0751, sen.olson@wisconsin.gov

Representative Keith Ripp, 608-266-3404, rep.ripp@wisconsin.gov

Governor Scott Walker, 608-266-1212, govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

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Get Outside in February

February can be that month where winter seems to draaaaag.  But while we all will soon rejoice in the signs and sounds of spring (crocuses aren’t far off, indeed), it’s always a great time to appreciate nature’s here-and-now.  So for the second half of February, here are some great ideas for exploring and educating in the outdoors!

1. Snow fort building & winter camping.  Last chance to go on that bold overnight adventure and pile up snow for a quincey!  Great activity for middleOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA-schoolers and high-schoolers – an unforgettable experience for most. If you’re not up for a night under the stars until the spring, building any kind of snow fort is still a load of fun.  Wait for a melty snow day, or if it’s nice and cold, pile up snow overnight to cut into blocks or excavate with shovels the next day.  Wisconsin winter camping guide from the DNR.

2. Stargazing.  Cold nights are an excellent time to see the stars!  Don’t miss Orion before  he says ta-ta for the summer season.

3. Tracking.  Absolutely.  Try following where tracks lead to investigate featureImage_listinganimal behavior and aid in identification!

4. Birding. Many of our feathered friends don’t leave WI for the winter…some even travel here from the arctic as a “balmy” winter getaway! Don’t worry if you missed the Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend – you can still participate in citizen science by entering your sightings into eBird…or try tracking when you first hear different calls to track the approaching spring!

5. Winter sports: snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, skating, hiking – the cold isn’t so bad once you get moving around!  What about making your own snowshoes?  You can buy a kit, or if you have access to saplings able to be harvested, really dig into the history!

6. Events at local nature centers.  Check out Camp Minikani Family Nature Night, Mosquito Hill Nature Center Third Thursdays Lecture series, Treehaven…or search for local events in your area.  If you have a venue, try creating an event to get people outdoors, even in your neighborhood. Who says EE needs to happen at a school or nature center??

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Assess Your EE Program or Career – with a map!

eeecology_body2Introducing eeEcology, a free, easy-to-use tool that should be a boon to many an environmental educator, formal or non-formal.  Here’s how it works:

  1. enter the goals of your program
  2. enter your program activities, audience, and work environment
  3. eeEcology creates a visual map of these program aspects
  4. You can visually connect your program activities with your goals
  5. You can write in details about how these connections work and how future connections might be made.

Why would this be useful?

Environmental education is a multi-faceted job, whether you’re in a classroom or out in the woods.  We strive to organize things into comprehensible chunks for our students, while still maintaining the complexity inherent in natural systems.  The eeEcology tool can help us do the same for our programs or our EE career trajectories. Here are some specifics about how eeEcology can be useful:

  • Visualize and focus your program or your path as an Environmental Educator
  • Tool for explaining to others where you are headed with your EE program or career, and what you’ve already accomplished.
  • You can save your work online, or convert it to PDF format for printing or presentations.
  • The interface is very quick and easy to use – you don’t even have to register to use the tool.  You can get through the entire process in less than 10 minutes, depending on how much you have to write.
  • Could even be used for students completing a large project with multiple goals and activities.

From the eeEcology website:

Your eeEcology Map is a visual and written guide to your own understanding of what you hope to accomplish as an environmental educator (EE).

Just as there are many relationships within ecosystems, the way you teach EE has its own “ecology” – the activities you engage in, the results you hope to achieve, the people with whom you work, and the places where you do your work.

Creating an eeEcology Map will help you to think about how your activities enable you to help the people and places you care about.

http://ecologymap.org/

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