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Missouri Environmental Education News
July/August 2020

Photo credit: Erin Graves

Table of Contents: Article: Bee-Kind and Bee-Friend Bees, Lesson: Four Fun Family Bee Activities (and a Lesson), Things to Look Out for Right Now, Kudos, MEEA News, Grants, Contests and Awards, Conferences, Workshops, Jobs

Dear MEEA Members,

The planet seems so turbulently alive right now. Added to the ever-present specter of climate change, we also feel our vulnerability to virulent pathogens. In the last 6 weeks, we have also seen a widespread acknowledgement that our nation’s ideals can’t be realized without making Black Lives truly matter. We understand better than ever that there can be no sustainability without equity. There’s so much to do and that can be daunting. Yet, I’m feeling pretty hopeful because so many life-affirming things are happening in MEEA right now as we embrace the challenge and the promise of the current moment.

First, I find so much hope in our efforts to center equity within MEEA. I’m thrilled that we acted on our values and hired a black-owned business for our logo design project. I’m glad the Board met last weekend and set some work in motion to better align our policies and practices with our values. We’ll start by drafting a statement outlining MEEA’s values around diversity, equity, and inclusion and assessing our current practices through that lens.

I’m also encouraged by the current growth of our organization. Interviews started today with an amazing group of applicants for our Missouri Green Schools VISTA positions. And, just last week, we hired Nick Speed as our MGS Outreach Coordinator! We are so happy to welcome Nick to the team, and for the leadership he will provide for the VISTAs. The Missouri Green Schools Committee also grew in the last month! Several new members joined the committee after the June MELAB meeting and really hit the ground running. All this new energy being infused into Missouri Green Schools certainly makes me feel hopeful.

We also have the very uplifting project that is underway to distribute 6300 EE Kits to families this summer. In addition to the 18 organizations that have come together to support this project, Traci Jansen and Laura Seger deserve a huge thanks for helping organize the logistics of this endeavor! Through a food relief program at 10 St. Louis County Library branches this summer, we are providing outdoor learning kits to help families hit hard by COVID find some solace nature. There is growing interest in expanding this project to help more communities, and you can donate to support that effort at

Another heartening collaboration taking place is between MEEA and the Kansas Assn for Conservation and Environmental Education. MEEA and KACEE are connecting across state lines to co-convene one virtual fall conference for both organizations. We are so excited by the opportunities emerging because of this. Please take 5 minutes to take the planning survey to help the Conference Committee best meet our members’ needs this fall.

To top all that off, the website committee has kicked it into high gear, hoping to launch the new MEEA website in time for the conference! Hope is energizing, which is a very good thing, because there is A LOT happening at once in MEEA. If you’re in need of some energizing work with like-minded people, there is always room for another helper on our committees. Seriously, we could use your time and talents! However, if what you need is some self-care, I hope you claim that time and space.

Lesli Moylan, Executive Director


Welcome to Nick Speed!

Nick is joining MEEA as the new Missouri Green Schools Outreach Coordinator! This is a part-time, temporary position at the moment, and we’re thankful to NAAEE for granting us the funds to bring Nick on to provide dedicated time to MGS partner and school outreach. Nick has a passion for urban agriculture, youth empowerment, and has plenty of EE experience from his time as a Gateway Greening educator. He is also the Founder of Ujima, a nonprofit service provider that creates equitable access to food, education, and employment. Ujima has been in existence since 2018, and continues on its journey towards food justice and environmental stewardship.


Bee-kind and Bee-friend Bees

by Erin Graves

MEEA Board Member and Science Teacher at Herculaneum High School

Welcome summertime! This is the time for those great summer picnics with summer favorites like watermelon, apple pie, and garden fresh salads, or even some of our regular favorites like chocolate, french fries, coffee, almonds, salsa and guacamole and pizza with that zesty tomato sauce. Does any of this sound good to you? If you said “yes” - THANK A BEE! These wonderful efficient and effective little pollinating experts are out and about again this summer making these and many other foods possible. In addition to how important bees are to our food supply, they also play an essential role in a healthy environment. So let’s learn more about these pollinating superheros!

Bees aren’t just about honey

Because they’re so small, bees can sometimes be invisible to people who miss the larger connection of their importance to food production. According to the Missouri Conservation Department, Missouri has over 450 different species of bees that support our agriculture and economy. Farmers rely on a diversity of bees to pollinate their produce. In the United States, bee pollinators have a national value of more than $30 billion annually. They’re responsible for 75% of food production worldwide. One-third of our calories and about 75% of our nutrients come from bee pollinated produce. (FAO, 2019) Even meat production relies on bees, since some plants grown to feed livestock, like clover and alfalfa, depend partly on bee pollination. While we would probably survive in a world without bees, our existence would be more uncertain and our diets dull and much less nutritious.

Bees are important to the environment

The buzzing insects are also vital to a healthy environment and play a part in every aspect of the ecosystem. They support the growth of trees, flowers, seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and other plants that serve as food and shelter for many creatures big and small. Also, bees are a great symbol of nature and act as an indicator of the state of the environment. By observing the health of bees, it’s possible to determine changes in the environment. Their presence, absence or quantity tells us when something is happening in the natural environment, and can let scientists know what corrective measures need to be implemented (Zidan 2017). Finally, bees also help maintain many of Missouri’s native wildflowers like coneflowers, asters and clovers which contributes to perhaps the bees simplest action of creating lovely floral landscapes and beautification of the planet.

Bees are in trouble

Population numbers of bees are declining at alarming rates due to a combination of factors such as loss of habitat, exposure to pesticides and effects of climate change. First, scientists believe the loss of habitat has reduced the bee population by 40%-60%. (Otto, 2018) Every piece of land that’s developed is land that’s no longer a viable habitat for wildlife. Fewer flowering plants relates to fewer bees. Next, use of pesticides has been linked to a phenomenon called Colony Collapse disorder where bees leave the hive and never return again. Pesticides affect the bees nervous system and they seem to lose their sense of direction. Pesticides also affect the bees immune system making them more susceptible diseases and parasites. Beekeepers report losses in their hives of 30%-90% believed to be due to pesticides. (Tucker 2019). Finally, as global temperatures rise, bees are losing places where they can survive and habitat ranges for bees are shrinking. According to research, bees may not be able to adapt to climate change by shifting their habitat like other insects, (for example, butterflies who can easily migrate). Also, bees are in tune with natural cues so their pollination activities are all about timing. If temperatures continue to shift, bees and plants may become out of sync. (American Beekeepers Association. 2019)

Photo Credit: Lesli Moylan

What can we do to help bees?

The Planet Bee Foundation lists these ways we can help the bees.

Now more than ever….. Interdependence means different species relying on each other. For example, bees need flowers and the flowers need the bees. Humans need bees, and now more than ever, the bees need our help. Bees are amongst the most important insects to humans on Earth. We need to recognize the connection between the continuance of providing the food everyone needs and the conservation of these wonderful little buzzing insects. So bee-kind and bee-friend bees!


Otto, C.R.V., 2018, Assessing the impact of the Conservation Reserve Program on honey bee health: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2018–3082, 2 p., Why are bees important

Why Bees Are Important to Our Planet, Jessica Tucker; May 2019;

Missouri Conservation Department; Our Need For Bees; Peg Craft; Sep 18, 2017;

Židan,Dejan; The World Bee Day project and Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, upon the proclamation of World Bee Day on 20 December 2017;

United Nations Food And Agriculture Organization, April 2020;

American Beekeepers Federation; How Climate Change Is Hurting The Bees, June 25, 2018;

Planet Bee Foundation; May 2020

Four Family Fun Bee Activities (and a Lesson)

contributed by Erin Graves

  1. Build a Bee Hotel
  2. Make a Bee Bath
  3. Plant a Bee Garden
  4. Read Bee Books

Lesson Plan

Subject: Bees

Grade: 3rd (lesson can be modified for younger or older students)

Preparation: 30 minutes

Time Needed: 5 lessons (approximately 30 minutes each)

Standards: Missouri Science Curriculum, Grade 3: Growth and Changes in Plants

Objectives: By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

See all the activities and the Lesson Plan

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

(check out all the green holidays)

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

EE Jobs details here