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Missouri Green Schools Program

Earth Quest: A game of Environmental Literacy

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Environmental Quizzes

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Green Holidays Calendar

Missouri Environmental Education News
March 2019

Table of Contents: Feature: Science, Defiance, and Deliverance - Three Women that Made a Difference, Things to Look Out for in March, Kudos, MEEA News, Grants, Contests and Awards, Conferences, Workshops, Jobs, Teaching and Learning: Exploded Flower

Rachel Carson, Julia Butterfly Hill, Wangari Maathai
Rachel Carson with Robert Hines conducting marine biology research. Julia Butterfly Hill during her tree sit with the coast redwood, Luna. Wangari Maathai with Senator Barak Obama in Nairobi, Kenya

Science, Defiance, and Deliverance -
Three Women that Made a Difference

In honor of Women's History Month, we recognize three women that played key roles - in very different ways - in helping to save the planet.

“It is the public that is being asked to assume the risks that the insect controllers calculate. The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the present road, and it can do so only when in full possession of the facts.” Rachel Carson, April 1963 - CBS Reports

DDT came of age in WWII. Compared to insecticides then in use, it was cheaper, safer to handle, and more effective in killing insects. As a result it was widely promoted for homes as well farms. But DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons had an unexpected and lethal impact when they entered the ecological food web.

As their use spread, numerous scientific and popular journals reported poisonings and deaths of wildlife following the application of the new insecticides. It was Rachel Carson who put the pieces together in her 1962 book, Silent Spring. Because insecticides persisted without breaking down, they could accumulate to toxic doses as they moved up the food chain.  While one insect laced with DDT couldn’t kill a fish or a bird, the hundreds or thousands of insects that larger, long-lived animals needed to eat in a lifetime could carry a lethal dose.

President Kennedy convened a scientific panel to review the book’s claims. They found unequivocally for Carson’s conclusions and, based on her recommendation, an independent agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, was set up. Unlike Agriculture, the EPA was required to consider impacts on public health and the environment before approving new chemicals. Based on these criteria, all of the chlorinated insecticides were banned for all uses by 1988.

“Because no choice happens in a vacuum, every single thought, word, and action changes the world. It is literally impossible to not make a difference. So the question we must ask ourselves is not, “Can I make a difference?” But rather, we must ask ourselves, “What kind of a difference do I want to make?” Julia Butterfly Hill

In the 1980s, the Pacific Lumber Company, PALCO, was taken over in a leveraged buyout by MAXXAM corporation. To pay off the buyout debt, logging was tripled. The increase in clear cutting of the Elk River headwaters pushed MAXXAM into the public spotlight and years of protests.

In 1997 Julia Butterfly Hill was working odd jobs along California’s Lost Coast while recovering from a major car accident. When someone was needed for a tree sit in a 1000 year old, 200 foot tall coast redwood, Hill volunteered.

The first sit was only a week. The second for five days. The third was supposed to be for two weeks, but the loggers began cutting climbing lines and Hill knew if she came down she wouldn’t be able to get back up, so she stayed. Two weeks turned into a month, and the longer she stayed the more media attention she and the tree she named Luna got.

Hill turned her human interest story into a spotlight on PALCO/MAXXAM’s practices. The media should have been paying attention to the disappearance of the forest, the owls, the mudslide that wiped out seven homes, but they weren’t.  So if it took her sitting in the tree to get attention, answering questions about going to the bathroom, that was what she was going to do.

756 days into the sit, PALCO agreed to leave Luna standing, and eventually sold 7000 acres of headwater forest to the federal government and the state of California. The Headwaters Forest Reserve is now part of the National Landscape Conservation System.

"….. there can be no peace without equitable development; and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space." Wangari Maathai

In the 1970s, Kenya underwent a period of extensive land privatization causing communal uses of the land to be ignored or prohibited. In rural communities women had to walk farther and farther to gather fire wood, and they came to Wangari Maathai, a member of the Kenyan National Council of Women, to ask for help.

Maathai’s plan was to increase the supply of firewood by teaching the women to plant trees themselves. Women gravitated to the project because it met their immediate needs. However it also began to develop a sense of empowerment in the women that participated.

This work put her in conflict with Kenya’s political elite, including President Daniel Arap Moi. An attempted coup in 1982 caused a major clampdown on all civil activity, including  Maathai’s tree planting work, and she was jailed and beaten.

Maathai’s civil resistance to the repressive Moi regime, her efforts to provide a better life for women and families, and her work to reestablish Kenya’s forests, garnered a Right Livelihood award in 1984, the Goldman Environmental prize in 1991, and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 - the first ever awarded to someone for their environmental work - solidly making the connection between sustainable use of resources and the prevention of conflict.

Moi left power in 2002, while Maathai's Green Belt Movement has spread throughout neighboring countries, Tanzania, Uganda, Lesotho, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe. 

Special Event - A Sense of Wonder

March 30, 4:00 to 6:00 pm, Miller Performing Arts Center, Jefferson City
A Sense of Wonder is a play based on the life and works of Rachel Carson

click here for tickets


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

(check out all the green holidays)

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


Columbia teacher selecte for climate change teaching workshop - Karen Hibdon, a biology and environmental science teacher who is concerned about the irreversible damage of climate change, was selected last week for the workshop held in Washington, D.C., by the National Center for Science Education.


Jan Weaver is retiring after 12 years with MEEA. Since she started, first as a contractor and then as part time staff, MEEA has grown from 160 to over 400 members. MEEA revived the annual conference, went from quarterly to monthly newsletters, and started an Environmental Educator Certification Program, a small grants program, the Missouri Environmental Literacy Advisory Board, and the Missouri Green Schools Program. It is a solid foundation for expanding and supporting environmental literacy in Missouri

The next step will be building on that foundation, and in Lesli Moylan, MEEA has found exactly the right person for that job! Lesli started in mid-February with the goal of having MEEA be the go-to resource for educators of all stripes who share MEEA’s vision, and to increase the number of educators in that camp. Her first objective is to gather and synthesize as much information as she can about the people in Missouri who are part of environmental education. She wants to foster communication, strengthen connections, amplify priorities and generate new ideas. So when she asks for your input, she means it!

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: Exploded Flower

Exploded Flowers

This activity, besides being fun, sets the stage for several different Life Sciences Standards in the early grades. For 2nd Graders, it connects with LS2A2 animal model in seed dispersal or pollination. For 3rd Graders, it connects with LS1A1 structural adaptations for survival. For 4th Graders, it connects with LS1A1 internal and external structures for survival, reproduction and growth. While it doesn't connect to a content standard in the younger grades, for all elementary grades, it is a good way to explore cross cutting concepts like pattern; scale, proportion and quantity; and structure and function.


Get a bunch of flowers, preferably some that are radially symmetrical (like daisies) and some that are bilaterally symmetrical (like irises). There should be more flowers than students.

Have each student pick a flower. Their job is to take it apart using their fingers and the plastic knife. Encourage them to be as gentle as possible, but persistent. The extra flowers are for if someone totally messes up. As they take the flower apart, they should use the magnifying glasses to look at parts up close. (To use a magnifying glass, hold it up close to your eye and bring the item you want to look at up to your eye until it is in focus - more here)

They should arrange the parts on a piece of cardstock so that the parts are in the same relation to each other that they were on the whole flower. It is this arrangement that gives the activity its name. Exploded drawings show the parts of a whole spread out, like they flew apart, but in the same relation to each other.

Optional - Have students draw or take photos of their flowers.

Discussion questions

If they are interested and there is time, you can have them label the parts or at least let them know the names. All kids are hungry for new words, so it doesn't matter whether it is required vocabulary for their grade, just share your knowledge!

Grades: 2-4
Standards: 2LS2A2, 3LS1A1, 4LS1A1
Supplies: flowers, cardstock, plastic knives, magnifying glasses
Time: 15 minutes to an hour