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MEEA helps educators inspire Missourians to care about, understand and act for their environment.

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Missouri Green Schools Program

Earth Quest: A game of Environmental Literacy

earth quest gameboard

Environmental Quizzes

K-2 biodiversity quiz

Coloring Sheets

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Green Holidays Calendar

Missouri Environmental Education News
January 2019

St. Louis Zoo Youth ByetoBags Campaign

Table of Contents: Feature: MEEA Hi-lights of 2019MEEA Seeking New DirectorMEEA Board Positions Open, Things to Look Out for in JanuaryMEEA NewsGrants, Contests and AwardsConferencesWorkshopsJobsTeaching and Learning: Phenomena First!

MEEA Highlights of 2018

---230 educators reached in workshops and presentations---
--- 110 new members from conferences and through word of mouth---
---10% increase in attendance at the 2018 conference---
--- 2 Youth Groups presented at the 2018 conference ---
---$92 donated by attendees to offset conference CO2---
---4 schools recognized as Federal Green Ribbon Schools (GRS)---
---new MEEA resources: weather, climate, standards, visual literacy---
---21 agencies & organizations worked together on green initiatives---

MEEA Presents! In 2018 MEEA presented or tabled at Interface, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Math and Science Conference, at the Association of Missouri Interpreter's Conference, Webster University's Sustainability Institute, the Kansas City STEM Conference, the North American Association for Environmental Education Conference, the Missouri Coordinated School Health Conference and at several MO DESE Science workshops.

MEEA's New Members! In 2018 we added new members from Alma, Buffalo, Benton, Blue Eye, Breckenridge, Buckner, Cairo, Calhoun, Cape Girardeau, Centralia, Chillecothe, Collinsville, Columbia, Creve Cour, DeSoto, Drexel, Faucett, Florissant, Gilman City, Grandview, Gray Summit, Harrisonville, Hazelwood, Herculaneum, Jefferson City, Kansas City, Kingston, Kirkwood, Liberty, Lindbergh, Louisiana, Mountain View, Mt. Vernon, O'Fallon, Overland Park, Pacific, Raymore, Risco, Salem, Savannah, Sedalia, Sikeston, Springfield, St. Joseph, St. Louis, St. Peters, Stoutland, Tipton, Trenton, Verona, Versailles, Wardell, Warrensburgh, Warsaw, Webster Groves.

MEEA Conference Grows! The 2018 MO Green Schools and Environmental Education Conference was about "Taking Learning Outdoors". Over 80 attendees joined us at Jefferson Middle School in Columbia to learn about outdoor classrooms, pollination, community support for school gardens, wildlife, place-based education, endangered species, the Anthropocene, classroom management in the outdoors, grant writing, certification and green schools. The Keynote paired Mike Szydlowski and Kristen Schulte to talk about how they navigated creating a joint program for Columbia Public School students on the Missouri River. New this year - we lengthened sessions to 75 minutes to meet certification requirements for Master Naturalists; had separate strands for PreK-5, K-12, Nuts and Bolts (for formal and non-formal educators), and MEEA programs; added youth presentations; and instituted donations to offset GHG emissions caused by the conference. Next year the conference will be November 1-2 in St. Louis. Learn more about the conference here

MEEA takes on Youth Engagement! Thanks to initial steps by board member Melvin Johnson, and a donation by member Debby Barker, we were able to provide free registration for folks 18 and under to attend the 2018 MOGSEE Conference and present during the "Bright Spots" Strand. We had Deah and Branden Powell from the MDC Jr. Leader's program (mentored by Melvin Johnson) and Miles Bradford, Sarah Lavelle and Catherine Glick from St. Louis Zoo's Zoo-Alive Teen Volunteer Program. In addition to including "Bright Spots" in all future conferences, MEEA is working with MELAB to coordinate a youth summit some time in the future. Stay tuned!

MEEA Starts Walking the Talk! At the 2017 MOGSEE Conference, we had an outside group perform an environmental audit. Our biggest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions was travel to the conference. This year we created an offset program that invited attendees to donate to a Columbia program that retrofits low income homes for energy conservation. We raised $92 in donations for the Central Missouri Community Action Coalition's Weatherization Program. Next year in St. Louis, we will identify a similar program, and start promoting the idea of offsets sooner and with more energy.

Missouri Green Schools Grows! In 2018 we nominated four schools to the US Department of Education's Green Ribbon Schools program and all four were recognized at a ceremony in Washington DC this September. Check out Bellerive Elementary, Green Trails Elementary, W. W. Keysor Elementary and St. Louis University High. MEEA also hosted a "Green Strides Tour" of all the St. Louis area schools that have received USED Green Ribbon School Recognition. Attendees from USED, DESE and area schools saw students in action working in gardens, demonstrating how yoga helps with mindfulness, explaining their cafeteria recycling practices, and describing their outdoor programming. Learn more here.

MEEA Creates! MEEA regularly develops new learning materials to meet specific needs of formal and non-formal educators. This year included four new offerings: Weather Math and Science for elementary students and Climate Change Math and Science for middle and high school students at Interface, "Not the Standards" Guides to Missouri Learning Standards for Science at the Association of Missouri Interpreters Meeting in September, and "A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: Visual Literacy and EE" at the NAAEE meeting in October.

MEEA Collaborates! MEEA met in May and December with 21 other organizations at the semi-annual MELAB meetings to build EE capacity in Missouri. Upcoming initiatives include a revised Missouri Green Schools Program, a survey of available Youth Programs and Internships, a youth summit, and Stewards of Missouri. Thanks to participating organizations: MU School of Natural Resources, Springfield Master Naturalists, Prairie Forks Conservation Area, St. Louis Science Center, MO Recycling Association, Missouri Department of Conservation, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, MO Botanical Garden, Mid-America Regional Council, Meramec Regional Planning Commission, Rain Tree School, Missouri Prairie Foundation/Grow Native, Tyson Research Institute, US Green Building Council, Springfield Environmental Office, MO Recycling Program, St. Louis County Department of Health, St. Louis University High School, CFM's Conservation Leadership Corps, Missouri River Relief. Check out MELAB here. Next meeting is May 9. Save the Date!

MEEA Seeking New Executive Director

MEEA is looking for someone to lead the organization through its next stage of non-profit development, maintaining the existing programs while establishing a secure income stream and expanding the diversity of the organization and its reach.

The position is half time. Deadline for application is January 10, 2019

Executive Director Position Description

MEEA Board Positions open for Nomination!

Nominations/Applications are due January 20 (note new date!). All MEEA members are eligible for the following positions: 

The Board seeks diverse representation from every gender, race, ethnic group, economic status and geographic region of the state.

Roles and Responsibilities for each position can be found on MEEA's Governance page and in the ByLaws…/board-documents/MEEABylaws2012.09.18.pdf

Nominate yourself or a MEEA member by completing the 2019 MEEA Board Nomination - Application Form found at

Things to Look for (or Look Out for) in January!

(check out all the green holidays)

What to Look for Right Now - MDC's list of What's Out There in Janaury!


Coming Up in the Next Two Months

(These count for Environmental Educator Certification categories 1, 2 or 3. Visit the EE Certification page here)

EE Jobs details here

Teaching and Learning: Phenomena

Phenomena First just means that educators begin teaching about a topic with a phenomenon. Phenomena are simply real world events or things. They don’t have to be unusual or spectacular, even though the word is usually associated with such things. They can be as mundane as a sprouting seed or a burning candle, though if you think about these things deeply, they are pretty amazing.

If you are already using the 5 E Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate) in your teaching, you probably are already using phenomena. They would be part of the Engage stage. What might be slightly different about Phenomena First is that more emphasis is put on having interest in the phenomenon guide student learning rather than a focus on a particular standard. For example, a butterfly emerging from a pupa rather than the “life cycle”; a stream turning muddy after a rain storm rather than “erosion”; or baking with a solar oven rather than “energy transfers”. The idea is that with guidance, the teacher can lead students from the particular – the phenomenon, to the general – the learning standard rather than the other way around.

An Example

Start with a Phenomenon: Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardis) have been moved from Least Concern (of becoming extinct) to Vulnerable because their populations have declined from about 160,000 individuals in 1985 to 98,000 individuals in 2015. (IUCN Red List - This is a good phenomenon because most US students and many immigrant students have a long familiarity with giraffes and care about them.

Engage students in 3D Learning: Use the standards, science and engineering practices, and cross cutting concepts to provide a structure for the students to ask and answer questions about the fate of giraffes. Students would do their own research on the web and from the library rather than relying exclusively on text books or “learning materials”. (This might include separate instruction in how to find reliable sources on the web – definitely a 21st century skill)

Missouri Learning Standards for grades 6-8 and 9-12 for LS2A interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems and LS2C Ecosystems, Functioning and Dynamics, and ESS3C Human Impacts on Earth’s Systems

Science and Engineering Practices

Cross Cutting Concepts

1. Question – Why are giraffes numbers declining?

1. Patterns – what is the pattern of decline

2. Model – What do giraffes need to survive and reproduce?

2. Cause and Effect – What factors cause populations to increase or decrease? 4. Systems and System Models – How are the factors that cause increase/decrease related to each other and to the giraffes?
5. Energy and Matter – What role does access to food play?

3. Investigate – Where do they live? Are they all affected the same way?

1. Patterns – Are effects the same everywhere or are there differences in space and time? 2. Cause and Effect - What factors are causing the declining?

4. Analyze – What trends do the data show?

3. Scale, Proportion and Quantity - where are giraffes doing the worst, the best?

5. Compute – If the trend continues, how many giraffes will be left in 30 years, in 60 years?

7. Stability and Change- Where are numbers stable, where are they changing?

6. Explain – giraffe numbers are declining due to these factors.

7. Stability and Change - What factors affect stability and change?

7. Argue – In order to save giraffes, these things need to be done and this is why.

4. Systems and System Models - Knowing what is causing the decline, what has to change to stop it? 6. Structure and Function - What aspects of the habitat structure and function have to change?

8. Communicate – This is what people need to know about what is happening and what they should do.

2. Cause and Effect - If changes are made, can the giraffes be saved?

Assess: This can be done throughout the exercise by evaluating both the quality of the questions students ask and the answers they come up with. At the end, students can make a presentation or prepare a report covering their findings and justifying their recommendations with evidence. This can be helped by providing a rubric that emphasizes the need to use evidence in their explanations and justifications.

Nonformal Educators: Starting with phenomena can be just as useful, even though there is much less time for students to ask and answer questions.

Where to find phenomena?

Taking it up a notch: Below is a simplified version of a rubric developed by Pasi Silander that shows levels of phenomenological based learning.  This approach is being adopted in Finland, which sees the topic based approach, which emphasizes collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking, as more relevant to 21st century skills. AccessKeyId=3209BE92A5393B603C75&disposition=0&alloworigin=1





1. Holisticity

common theme/phenomenon processed by subject

phenomenon processed as a project

learning objectives arise from phenomenon

2. Authenticity

text-book or learning materials based

real world, timely phenomenon studied with real sources, materials and media

learner’s thinking corresponds to thinking used in a real world situation

3. Contextuality

single case with teacher assigned tasks and objectives

phenomenon processed in its natural context, connected to the wider world

leaners develop their study around phenomena they choose themselves

4. Problem Based Learning

teacher directed

learners set research objectives for investigating the phenomenon

learners collaboratively choose the phenomenon to study

5. Learning Process

learning process guided by content based learning tasks

learners begin managing their own learning

learners create their own learning tasks and scaffolds