How to Raise an Environmentalist

loc_environmentalistThis article discusses how we can encourage kids to care more and take action to protect our environment. Social science research indicates that motivating people to take action requires promoting compassionate concern for the world rather than just stating facts and making disastrous predictions about the future world. Research is suggesting that the desire to conserve is linked to our connection to nature – the degree to which we enjoy spending time in nature. Early exposure to nature increases the likelihood that people will care about the environment once they are adults.

While researchers are still trying to figure out why early exposure to nature increases environmental concern, they do know that emotional engagement is crucial in this process. Maintaining mindful behavior when going into a natural setting leads to a more connectedness with nature and the ability to empathize with the creatures and environment.  The first step in the right direction is to get more children outside, playing, and receiving all the benefits nature has to give.

To read the full article, click here.

Green Schools National Conference to be held in Virginia Beach, March 4-7, 2015

GSNC2015The Green Schools National Conference brings together experts and stakeholders to influence sustainability throughout K-12 schools and school districts.  Colleagues who share their passion and offer their own green schools experiences are put together in a true collaborative event with thought leaders and early adopters of green school best practices.   Attendees are passionate about transforming schools and the way they operate.  The annual conference is designed to allow attendees to learn about creative strategies for success and to take home real-life tools that can transform schools.

The 2015 conference will take place in Virginia Beach, VA, March 4-7, 2015. To learn more about and register for this conference visit: https://greenschoolsnationalnetwork.org/conference/

Partnership Spurs Diversity Outreach Projects in Texas

YEARS AGO, John Warner, an urban district forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service and a longtime InterfaceSouth partner, recognized that landownership patterns in the southeastern part of the state around Houston were changing rapidly. Latino, Chinese, and Vietnamese families from Houston were moving to the interface and buying 5–20 acre tracts of forestland within his rapidly growing multi-county district. He realized that the agency was going to have to change its communication approach to reach many of these new forest landowners. “As an agency, we know how to communicate with traditional landowners,” says Warner. “However, outreach to different ethnic groups is something new for us.”

In 2007, an opportunity to reach these new landowners presented itself when Warner met Tamberly Conway, a graduate student in the College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University. Conway was working with Latino Legacy, a program established by the university and funded by the USDA Forest Service’s [USFS] More Kids in the Woods program to connect Latino communities with the public lands and forestlands in the Houston area through bilingual conservation education programming. (Conway has since been hired by the USFS as a conservation education specialist working remotely in Texas for the USFS’s office in Washington, D.C.).

 To view the full article and learn more about recent activities of the Centers for Urban and Interface Forestry, visit our latest issue of Leaves of Change at: http://www.interfacesouth.org/products/leaves/partnership-spurs-diversity-outreach-projects-in-texas/index_html

Connecting Kids to the Hogtown Creek Watershed in Gainesville, Florida

mary__kids_in_woodsInterfaceSouth and local partners, including the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Alachua County School District, the Gainesville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs, and Alachua County Environmental Protection Department, received funding through this year’s Forest Service More Kids in the Woods (MKIW) cost share funding opportunity. The MKIW program supports activities and programs designed to spark curiosity about nature and promote learning through applications of science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles.

Project partners will collaborate with Westwood middle school science teachers to conduct outdoor science learning activities and service learning projects within the nearby Hogtown Creek Watershed in Gainesville, FL. Partners will also organize a school camp out, participate in career day events and science fairs, and conduct a train-the-teacher workshop on outdoor learning concepts and techniques. Project successes, materials and information will be shared locally, regionally and nationally through our combined partner networks.

To learn more about the Forest Service’s More Kids in the Woods program and 2013 cost share funding recipients visit: 

www.fs.usda.gov/main/conservationeducation/about/education-themes/kids-in-woods  

www.fs.fed.us/news/2013/releases/05/more-kids-outdoors.shtml

 

 

Green Strides Webinar Series

The Green Strides Webinar Series acquaints school communities with the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental literacy, including STEM, green careers, and civic engagement.

May 1, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Bringing Climate Change Home (USFS/PLT)

May 8, 2013, 1-2 p.m. School Sting: Impacts on Communities, Health and Environment (EPA)

May 8, 2013, 2-3 p.m. Drinking Water Best Management Practices for Schools (EPA)

May 15, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Engaging Your Community on Green Apple Day of Service

May 22, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Teacher Ranger Teacher (NPS)

May 29, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Authentic Student Voice in GreenSchools! (USFS/PLT)

June 12, 2013, 4-5 p.m. Summer Reading for Environmental Education (EDN)

Sign up for Green Strides Webinar Series email updates to receive information on future webinars. All times are given as Eastern Standard. View archived webinars here.

Let’s Zumba Outside for GreenSchools!

shapeimage_28Lantrip Elementary Environmental Science Magnet School, Jackson Middle School and Stephen F. Austin High School, all in close proximity of each other in Houston, Texas, are partnering with the the Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas – Latino Legacy and many others, to host a Zumbathon to support area students in creating a more healthy Houston through campus and community greening projects. The US Forest Service is helping sponsor the free Green Expo and Health Fair.

The “Let’s Zumba Outside for GreenSchools!” event will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2013, from 9 am – 1 pm at Stephen F. Austin High School, located at 1700 Dumble, Houston TX.

Primary components of the event will center upon getting children and their families outside, campus and community greening, site planning for outdoor spaces, and promoting the important connection between health and nature.

To learn more about this family friendly event visit http://www.friendsnfgt.org/friendsnfgt/zumbaflyer.html.

 

Kids in the Woods

Picture 2_kid fishingChildren today spend twice as much time indoors than their parents did at their age, a troubling statistic considering the many physical and mental health benefits of time outdoors. The US Forest Service More Kids in the Woods initiative seeks to address this growing disconnect between children and nature.

The “Kids in the Woods” section of the InterfaceSouth website has online resources about children and nature and the importance of outside playtime, including weblinks, handouts, articles and other publications.To view these resources and learn more about our efforts to encourage kids to get outdoors click here.

 

Natural Teachers: 10 Ways You Can Add Vitamin “N” to your Classroom and Beyond

By on March 23rd, 2013

Not long ago I met some dedicated young women who were doing their student teaching at an impressive nature-based preschool. They made it clear that they’d love to pursue careers at similar schools. But they were discouraged about the prospects. Despite growing demand from parents, the number of nature-based preschools remains relatively low.

“Is there a business school at your university?” I asked. Yes, they said. “Have the business school and your education school ever considered working together to prepare future teachers to start their own preschools?” The students looked at each other. They had never heard of such a thing. Nor had the director of the preschool.

Why not?

Probably because it doesn’t exist. Bringing more nature experiences to education will be a challenging task, and teachers can’t do it alone. Higher education, businesses, families and the whole community must become involved. That’s where the growing children and nature movement comes in. If, as an educator, you’d like to join or help lead the movement, here are a few ways to get started in your own school and beyond…click here

PLT GreenSchools! April 10 Webinar: Green Jobs and Careers in Natural Resources

Project Learning Tree is proud to be a part of the U.S. Department of Education 2013 Green Strides Webinar Series in conjunction with our national partner, the U.S. Forest Service. The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities the tools to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education. 

Join PLT’s April 10 webinar on “Green Jobs and Careers in Natural Resources”

Green jobs and clean energy careers have been growing at a phenomenal pace and analysts project the trend will continue.  In our first webinar this year, to be held on April 10 from 4:00-5:00 pm EST, Green Team students who aspire to embrace green jobs as a career pursuit will share how greening their schools is helping prepare them for college and careers in natural resources.

 The webinar will feature:

  • Meryl Harrell, Acting Special Assistant/Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary, USDA. She will provide insight into USDA green jobs and how students can prepare for green careers.
  • Mike Maresca, Science and Sustainable Energy Teacher at Bloomfield Vocational Technical School in Bloomfield, NJ. This Blue Ribbon school prepares students for careers in the green energy field by offering students a Green Energy Academy as one of four “career clusters.” As part of their regular studies, Green Energy Academy students study the environmental, economic, political, and social impacts of current energy usage, think about alternatives to current energy models, and design and implement innovative, energy-saving projects. 
  • Isamar Cortes, High School Senior and Green Energy Academy Student Leader at Bloomfield Tech, and Gesny Val, Freshman and Engineering Student at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ. These dynamic students will share how they are prepared and encouraged to pursue career opportunities arising in the green energy field.
  • Victoria Arthur, USDA Forest Service Conservation Education Specialist will highlight the USDA’s Job Corps program and a series of green education modules. The module Green Jobs introduces students to the concepts of both the “green” economy and how developing “green” skills can benefit them in the workplace, both in increased wages and long-term career advancement.
  • National Project Learning Tree staff. We will discuss the growing and compelling state of green jobs in America in 2013 and beyond.

Students and teachers are invited to participate in this informative webinar. Register on the Project Learning Tree website.

Issue 13, November 2012 Leaves of Change Bulletin

In this issue of the Leaves of Change bulletin you will learn about a collaborative project taking place in DeSoto County, an urbanizing county south of Memphis, TN, in which i-Tree software is being utilized to better understand the environmental and monetary benefits received from the county’s forests.You will also learn about the Centers’ recent training and outreach activities, recommended resources, and upcoming events related to urban and interface forestry.

To view this issue click here.