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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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Missouri Environmental Education News
July 2016

Table of Contents: Feature: Envirothon, Teaching and Learning: Visible Thinking Routines, Things to Look Out for in July, Kudos, MEEA News, Grants, Contests and Awards, Conferences, Workshops, Jobs

Dear MEEA Members,

What an amazing month June was for MEEA! We launched the new application/assessment tool for Missouri Green Schools, co-hosted the Sustainability Institute for Educator (SIE) for the first time, participated in a week of strategic planning under the tutelage of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), and received word that biodiversity powerhouses Sheila Voss and Louise Bradshaw will deliver the keynote at the MEEA annual conference this fall! Additionally, three dozen donors contributed to our Solstice Fundraiser, raising over $1200 to support EE! My heart is full, and my mind is busy synthesizing so much new information. How wonderful it is to be surrounded by so many smart and caring people who work hard to make our planet a happier and healthier place for everyone. Go team!

This month's article highlights Envirothon, a national contest that immerses high schoolers in systems thinking and provides opportunities to learn about several green careers. Thank you to MEEA Board Member Karen Keck, and Soil and Water Conservation District's Theresa Strunk and Judy Stinson for providing this month's article! Since systems thinking is foundational to good environmental education, I asked Peg Keiner--SIE Keynote Speaker, National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, UN Global Goals Ambassador, and Director of Innovation at GEMS Academy--how she likes to incorporate systems thinking when working with young children. "Visible Thinking Routines!" was her instant reply. Learn more about them in the Teaching & Learning section of the newsletter.

I hope you enjoy the newsletter and learn something new. This is a time of growth for our organization, so please give me a shout if you want to join the effort. Whether you have a little time or a lot, we'll help you plug in!

Lesli Moylan, Executive Director

Photo credit: Theresa Strunk

MO Envirothon 2019 Photo credits: Theresa Strunk

Envirothon Program Plants a Seed

by Theresa Strunk, St. Charles County Soil and Water Conservation District

As educators, we can’t help but talk about planting seeds…Seeds of intelligence, interest and innovation; seeds of citizenship, community, and cooperation; and seeds of awareness, accountability and action.

Envirothon is an educational program that brings together a diverse group of “teachers” from a variety of natural resource and conservation backgrounds to plant these seeds in the minds of Missouri high school students. Missouri foresters, soil scientists, aquatic and wildlife biologists, geologists, hydrologists, and other experts in their fields: agronomists, stormwater engineers, environmental engineers, botanists, and others set aside time for this program every year. They are reaching students through training sessions focusing on the five natural resource topics (aquatics, soils and land use, forestry, wildlife, and a “current issue”) and by writing the exams, creating the hands-on experiences, serving as judges for the oral presentation component, and providing feedback to the students.

The Envirothon program is unique and special in many ways, but one way is that this program is accessible to all high school students. They don’t have to be in a specific group or club, nor do they have to have a specified GPA, or a declared interest in environmental or natural resource topics. The only requirement is to be a high school student, have a coach (parent or teacher), and be able to form a team of five.

Envirothon has done a good job of planting those seeds. Many former Envirothon students have gone on to enter careers in environmental, natural resource and conservation fields. A few of them are now working as:

Students have communicated back to Missouri Envirothon that this memorable experience from their high school days planted and then nourished a desire to reach for a “green” job. Envirothon sparks an interest in natural resources, and encourages innovative thinking concerning the current environmental “problem” the students must solve at competition. Students learn how to cooperate and work as a team to find solutions; and take into consideration the impacts their decisions have on the environment and thus on communities, leading to ownership and citizenship as they see the ripples of impact they have. And lastly with that awareness, action is the desired outcome…informed and responsible action as proud members of a world environment.

2019 Missouri Envirothon Winners from Smith Cotton High School: Dylan Miller, Sarah Adams, Katelynn Montgomery, Edward Toderescu-Stavila and Katelin Frame. Advisor Mona McCormack not pictured. Photo Credit: Judy Stinson

Perspective from a Classroom Teacher

"As an environmental science teacher I have found very few activities that engage students like Envirothon does.  Just being outside all day is an unusual experience for many students.  I have seen reluctant students become excited for this event, and have had many students over the years tell me it was one of the most memorable things they did in High School.  Preparation can take many forms, with each student on the team working as a specialist in one of the topics, or them all working together as generalists. Addressing the presentation prompt can be a stretch for some students, but it is an excellent learning experience because of its emphasis on both content and presentation style."
-Karen Keck, Kirksville High School and MEEA Board Member

More detailed information about the events in your region, along with registration information, is on Missouri’s Envirothon website,

Visible Thinking Routines

Visible Thinking Routines were developed by Harvard's Project Zero to help students develop habitual thinking practices that develop specific attitudes or dispositions, such as considering multiple perspectives, understanding complexity, or justifying one's reasoning. Used over time, Visible Thinking Routines support the development of ways of looking at the world. The Core Routines showcase seven thinking routines that can be embedded in a variety of learning situations, depending on which thinking disposition you want to support.

When it comes to supporting systems thinking even with very young students, Peg Keiner suggests "Parts, Purposes, and Complexities". Peg likes to introduce this routine to young students by looking at a pencil. This familiar system seems simple at first glance, but reveals complexity when the relationship between the parts and other systems is examined. After generating a list of the parts and functions, you might want to ask your students to think about what would happen if one of the parts were removed?

Do you think early childhood might be too soon to start using systems thinking? Think again! Check out this video of four-year-olds using the "Generate, Sort, Connect, and Elaborate" routine. Young children can quickly develop helpful habits of mind, and are more capable of deep reflection than you might think!


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

(check out all the green holidays)

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


Kudos to the Green Schools Committee for their diligent efforts to revise the application and get the new version on the website. The new form allows applicants to view on one page how to progress from Emerging to Advanced in all 3 pillars of a green school. Check it out, and join Missouri Green Schools today! Participants in the revision: Doneisha Bohannon, Hannah Carter, Mike Dittrich, Kat Golden, Hope Gribble, Traci Jansen, Steven Juhlin, Erik Lueders, Bailey Lutz, Lesli Moylan, Jan Weaver.

Kudos to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for their Pesticide Collection Program that helps farmers and households properly dispose of unwanted pesticides for free. Since 2012, DNR has collected over 430,000 pounds of unwanted pesticides. Learn more at

Kudos to Branden and Deah Powell for joining the MEEA Conference committee and road tripping to get to their first meeting! These two teens have committed to lifting the youth voice in EE, and we applaud their efforts.

Kudos to the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, supporting clean water and environmental education in the Springfield area for over 30 years. From initial exposure to nature-based experiences to career opportunities, their outdoor education efforts on behalf of Springfield students is truly inspiring.

Kudos to University Extension for developing the "All Things Missouri" website. If you're looking for data on just about anything related to Missouri, look here. And if you like maps, you will LOVE what you can do on this site.

Kudos to the Heartland Conservation Alliance in KC for hosting a community education event at Blue Valley Park in June to promote stewardship of the Blue River!

Kudos to the Springfield Public School District for developing partnerships that support outdoor learning, systems thinking, and awareness of green career pathways. From field trips to the wastewater treatment facility, to professional certifications for high school students, SPS is making great green strides!

Explore! Cities of the Future, an introduction to solid waste management for SPS 7th graders by the City of Springfield's Laurie Duncan.


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