• 17 Nov 2013 2:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    By Erin Zoellick

    How did you know you wanted to get into Environmental Education? That is a common question that popped up in class discussions during college, or job interviews, or chats with people who learn what I have done for a living. For me it was a moment on a mountain in Montana. Well, that’s what my story has developed into, because as you know it is not really ever just a moment. Sometimes it is easier to give people a short story wrapped up in a bow because you sound saner than if you were to ramble on about the 100 moments that led you to this profession. And this is what I found myself recently telling a car salesman in my Illinois hometown…

    Terrence was with me on a test drive as I explained my auto-buying conundrum because he was baffled by my ethical dilemma in this car purchase. Also, I’m pretty sure he already thought I was nuts. He was really intrigued by the idea that someone would get paid (and have degrees!) to teach about the environment. Sidenote: I grew up in the town of the second biggest mall in the country, where often the closest you get to nature is the misleading names of subdivisions (i.e. ‘Whispering Pines’). There we were talking about the environment and life choices and living your dreams and I didn’t even know his last name.

    But hey, I never knew the names of the thousands of kids I gave lessons to at the nature center or who trustingly followed me into the woods without learning a single thing about me. “Hi, I’m Erin. Here, take this net and let’s catch some water bugs in this awesome pond and then look at them under microscopes!” We were able to connect on a more immediate level, and this is one of the things I absolutely loved about being an environmental educator: let’s just go experience some nature stuff together and talk about why it matters. I don’t do this in my job right now, so I’ve really been in tune to other ways that EE/OE comes out in my life-living.

    Maybe I could spend some time with all the kids in that Toys R Us commercial? Did you know they weren’t even actors!? Those kids were set up. I definitely had something to say about the commercial the moment I saw it, and so did NAAEE, the National Wildlife Federation, and even Stephen Colbert. Here I am saving up scrap wood from house projects to make blocks for a really great kid I know, and then I have to compete with THAT. If I were one of those kids – given a poor lesson about trees – I would have reacted the same way. Is this what I hated so much about it? That it is so easy to be the target audience? That is, after all, why I was test-driving a Subaru: “Outdoors!, Dog in backseat!, Adventure!, Gear on the racks!”; these cars were made for people like me, so I’ve been told.

    I’ve had a three-year identity crisis in my current job, which is super and involves building community partnerships for college student service opportunities. Here’s the million dollar question: Can I be an environmental educator without getting paid to do it every day? Maybe not, but I can certainly be environmentally conscious and literate. Maybe I shook up Terrence’s way of being for a minute just by living my values and being the me that EE helped create. This comes up in other ways too – timing shower length, reusing wood from a deck remodel, sneaking off the Lakewalk Path in Duluth to rip out an invasive plant, volunteering on an environmental committee, giving my niece nature-friendly gifts – there are infinite ways to be a conscientious Earth inhabitant and participant.

    Right now, for me, “for a living” doesn’t mean my 9 to 5 daily grind for a wage. I’m not sure when I will be paid to do EE again, but I believe I do EE for a living each day.
  • 22 Oct 2013 8:44 PM | Anonymous member
    Earlier this month I attended the 42nd Annual NAAEE Conference in Baltimore, MD. I could write an entire post on how great the conference was. I could go on about the location, the variety in the sessions, the amount of planning and coordination a conference of that size takes, the delicious food around Baltimore. But that would be a very long post.

    Instead I am going to focus on one particular session. All of the sessions I attended were great, but this one, though not necessarily relevant in my professional life anymore, was really something I could use in my personal life.

    This session was a hard choice for me because I was only attending the conference because my employer covered the costs due to us having our own sessions to lead. I felt like I should be going to sessions I could apply to my current work.

    But then I saw the title of this session: Catan: Oil Springs--Using Board Games to Teach Sustainability.

    And I knew I had to see it. My husband and I LOVE tabletop games and we get together with friends and family quite often to play. How CAN board games be used to teach sustainability?

    Well in this instance, by adding a new strategic twist to a beloved classic game.

    I know plenty of people in my usual circle of gaming friends who know next to nothing about sustainability in real life practices. I do what I can, but asking people to recycle or explaining the science behind global climate change can only do so much before they stop inviting you over. I thought an environmental twist to a game played with a group of people would spark conversation about real world topics.

    Here’s how the game works in a nutshell: It’s Settler’s of Catan, with  the added commodity of oil. Wil Wheaton has a YouTube Series with an episode describing  the game.  If you don’t want to watch that (it’s about 26 min) and are unfamiliar with the premises or rules of Catan, basically players are building their homesteads along hexagonal tracts of land. The land their homesteads are adjacent to gives them a certain number of resources (wood, wool/sheep, wheat, brick, iron ore) depending on the number rolled on the dice. Players can then use these resources to build more roads, more settlements, or upgrade their settlements to cities. The basic game alone lays down a good understanding of how to use your resources wisely, just as in the real world.  

    What the Oil Springs Expansion does is add a new commodity. Yep, that commodity is oil. It modernizes the game. Some of the randomly placed pieces are now only producing oil, instead of wheat or wood. That makes it harder to get those types of resources, but - just as in the real world - oil is valuable. You can use it to buy other resources you need to expand. Oil lets you build your city into a metropolis, among other things.

    But, it comes with a cost. Every time a player uses an oil token to trade for or upgrade something in the game, it puts the game further along on the disaster track, noted by a marker. If that marker reaches 5, an environmental event happens that could hurt everyone playing in the game, such as coastal events that destroy or downgrade coastal settlements or removing a hex’s ability to produce resources for the adjacent settlements. The disaster track also marks how many times this happens, and once it is full the game is over. No one wins.

    The idea of the expansion is that you WANT to use the oil because it gets you more stuff, but every time you do, it has a cost. That cost builds and builds, until finally, the island of Catan is so polluted that everyone loses.

    Now, the “nobody wins” may not appeal to the players who enjoy having a clear winner, but it could be turned into a cooperative game too. Players can hold other players accountable for how much oil they are using. And, another neat part of this expansion, players who don’t want to use oil can sequester it (Brazil was going to do this at some point), at which point that token (or tokens) can’t be used again for the rest of the game.

     Catan is a simple game to play with kids as young as 7 or 8. Some may need a little extra help, but it gets them thinking. The game can take a good chunk of time to play. I wouldn’t plan just 30 minutes for it. The Oil Springs expansion puts a nice environmental spin on it. It’s not doom and gloom because the kids are having fun, but it gets them thinking about real-world problems and what could happen if we don’t curb our use of fossil fuels. The entire thing is ripe with talking points and teachable moments.

    For more information on this expansion and how it came to exist, the game of Catan itself, and also how to get your hands on both, visit the Catan: Oil Springs website.

    There currently isn’t a curriculum to go with this, but this field is full of plenty great teachers (formal and informal) who may have ideas, or want to work in collaboration with someone else to create something that can be used in the classroom or a camp. Feel free to start a discussion on our Facebook page, or in the comments below this post!

  • 24 Sep 2013 7:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)"Imagine this assignment, says Bill McDonough in a recent TED talk: Design something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, converts nitrogen into ammonia, distills water, stores solar energy as fuel, builds complex sugars, creates microclimates, changes color with the seasons, and self-replicates. Sound impossible? Well, nature’s already completed this one. It’s called a plant. And the fact that it does these things safely and efficiently is inspiring engineers and designers to reconceive the ways we manufacture such basics as soap bottles, raincoats, and wall-to-wall carpeting.

    Biomimicry and Cradle to Cradle, the two fields of inquiry that frame this emerging discipline, stem from the work of biologist Janine Benyus, architect William McDonough, and chemist Michael Braungart, who realized that the very models they considered key to making safer, more environmentally friendly products were sitting right before us, in the natural world."

    This article by Sven Eberlein for YES! Magazine dives into the world of Benyus, Braungart, and McDonough who go beyond the reduce, reuse, recycle mentality and strive to restore natural resources while creating new things through nature-inspired design. They have a vision for a world that gives back to the environment and makes it better, rather than exploiting the limited resources that we have. By using the things that surround us in nature as inspiration, they are able to imagine truly sustainable ways of making and designing things like books, soap, buildings, and entire cities.

    When you talk about the environment, what image first comes to mind? Nature? Wildlife? All things green? My own perception of the environment shifted when I first started working at Eco Education, where we taught about the environment in three parts: the natural environment, the built environment, and the social environment. Teaching in an urban setting caused us to rethink how we perceive the environment and changed our assumptions of the way students interact with nature. By including the built and the social environment, we could include all aspects of their lives, including the concrete jungle of sidewalks, parking lots, and streets, corner stores, buildings, and even the classrooms they were a part of. In broadening our definition of the environment, we were able to explore ways to be better stewards of the environment - all parts of the environment - and envision ways to make it a better place to live.

    How can you teach your students to think about making new things modeled after things found in nature? How can you help them imagine a future that reconciles the differences between the built, social, and natural environment, and instead, gets each part working together in mutually beneficial ways? What tools have you found to inspire young entrepreneurs to create things without harming the future of the planet? Check out the resources below, read more about Biomicry and Cradle to Cradle, and share your ideas on our facebook page, where you can ask questions, and start a discussion with other environmental educators. We look forward to learning with you.

    YES! Magazine Article: From Soap to Cities, Designing From Nature Could Solve Our Biggest Challenges by Sven Eberlein

    TED Talk: William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle Design

    YES! Magazine is all about powerful ideas and practical actions. They offer a free year-long subscription for educators, and maintain a website with articles, curriculum and resources for teachers focused on positive solutions. Check it out!
  • 26 Aug 2013 9:07 PM | Anonymous member
    Kamyar Enshayan as Keynote

    Kamyar Enshayan, Ph.D., director of the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education, will keynote the luncheon on Saturday, September 28 during the Midwest Environmental Education Conference, which will be held September 25-28, 2013 at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville, Iowa.

    Enshayan's keynote, titled, "Making Other Arrangements," will bring attention to issues of consumption and the fact that as a society, we have created living arrangements that require excess natural resources. Enshayan will address what it takes for social changes to occur and will send conference attendees off with an inspiring call to action.
    Click this link to watch Enshayan present during an Iowa City Farm to School Discussion:


    If you have a passion for the environment, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to see the story of Rachel Carson performed as a one-person play by Kaiulani Lee, Thursday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m.
    The performance, “A Sense of Wonder,” has been touring the United States for 20 years and is the inspiring story of one woman’s love for the natural world and her fight to defend it. It is the story of the extremely private Rachel Carson thrust into the role of controversial public figure. “A Sense of Wonder” has been created with the help and guidance of many of Miss Carson’s friends and colleagues and with permission from the Rachel Carson estate. Rachel Carson has been called “the patron saint of the environmental movement.” She was a marine biologist and zoologist best known for her book, Silent Spring, which alerted the world to the dangers of chemical pesticides and launched our modern environmental movement.  

    Click this link to watch the trailer from “A Sense of Wonder.”


    Register today to take advantage of the abundance of other educational opportunities at the conference, including:
    • Two workshops
    • 10 field trips
    • Three award-winning keynote presenters
    • 64 sessions on a variety of environmental topics
    • Plus exhibits, entertainment, great food and fun!
    This regional gathering is the premier environmental education conference in the Midwest. You’ll be able to meet and network with over 250 teachers, naturalists and others who specialize in: wastewater, environmental health, natural resources, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), watershed, energy, solid waste & recycling education and regulation. If you care about a sustainable earth, this conference is sure to enlighten, inspire and re-energize your passion for the environment.

    For more information and registration, visit

  • 20 Aug 2013 10:43 PM | Anonymous

    A College Search for Sustainability

     - By Jeff Ledermann, Founding MAEE Member

    The American Association of Sustainability in Higher Education

    “Don’t stop the car,” pleaded my oldest daughter, Katie, as we drove around yetanother college campus. At the time we were only about half way through the college search process, but after a half dozen campus visits she was finally starting to formulate some opinions. Unfortunately for the first several visits, they all started with “No.” It would take official visits to fourteen different schools, another dozen informal visits, including the aforementioned drive-by, nine applications and letters of acceptance, anxious moments waiting for scholarship notices and lots of discussion on financial matters before her “Decision”. While Katie struggled to sort through the many options before her, a college’s commitment to sustainability was a priority for her from the start.

    Having a father who is an environmental professional may have some influence, but many recent high school graduates share Katie’s priority that the college of choice needs to be “green”.  The Princeton Review recently reported a “rising interest among students in attending "green" colleges. Among 7,445 college applicants Princeton Review surveyed in 2012 for its "College Hopes & Worries Survey," 68% said having information about a college's commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend a school.” And colleges are responding. As someone that has been working many years to increase environmental literacy in the public, it was exciting to see firsthand how most college campuses have become bastions of sustainability. We found there are lots of ways to learn about the sustainability efforts of colleges. In addition to The Princeton Review’s green ratings and guide to green colleges, we found information from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the College Sustainability Report Card (unfortunately, production of new report cards have been suspended), Sierra Club’s Cool Schools ranking and Outside magazine’s college rankings all very helpful.

    While crisscrossing the Midwest by car and flying to the Pacific Northwest wasn’t the most environmentally-friendly option, we found that actual campus visits were by far the best way to not only get a feel for the whole campus but really test the validity of a school’s commitment to sustainability. While most schools all now have some level of sustainability activities, when on campus it was easy to see which schools have really integrated green initiatives. From green dorm certification to signage in the dining hall regarding healthy local food options, we were most impressed by the schools that did a lot to engage and educate their students about their efforts.

    The number of schools adding environmental studies/science programs in recent years was also great to see. I’m a little worried about how all these kids will get jobs in the environmental field, but I am pleased to know that we are building a generation of better stewards. Regardless of their future careers, the environmental knowledge they are gaining now can be applied in any office, home or community. Just to be clear, however, I am encouraging Katie and other environmental studies students to get a second major or area of specialty. When it comes to earning a paycheck, it is good to have options.

    While there are lots of factors that go into choosing a college, I am proud that Katie made it a priority to attend a green school. She may not be excited about being surrounded by corn and soybean fields while studying in western Minnesota this fall, but Katie is looking forward to joining her future classmates at a school that is truly committed to a renewable and sustainable college education. 

    Jeff Ledermann is a founding member of MAEE, including serving 5 years as Secretary in the late 1990s. He has worked over 20 years developing and delivering environmental education programs for the State of Minnesota

  • 19 Jul 2013 7:46 AM | Anonymous
    No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) Re-Introduced (with bipartisan support)

    -- by John Smith, Will Steger Foundation, MAEE Board Member

    MAEE has been supporting and tracking the No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) since it first appeared on the national stage in 2011.  According to the press release below, the bill, which was re-introduced to the house and senate on 7/17/13, seeks to: 

    "The No Child Left Inside Act would provide funds to encourage partnerships between school districts, colleges, parks, and non-profits and other community-based organizations to implement the improved curricula and provide professional development for teachers on the use of field-based, service, and experiential learning.
    Additionally, the bill will add environmental education as an authorized activity under other traditional federal grant programs and require cooperation, joint planning, and reporting by federal agencies involved in environmental education."

    But can it pass?  Yes.  Here's why (also from the press release):

    "NCLI is supported by over 50 million citizens from 2,200 local, regional, and national organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition, including the League of Conservation Voters, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the Outdoor Industry Association, as well as hundreds of colleges, universities, businesses, and health care organizations."

    MAEE is a long-standing member of the NCLI Coalition (and therefore our members are counted among those numbers) and will continue to promote it locally and regionally.  We are also in meetings with state officials and legislators to prepare our state to make the most of things, if (when) it passes.  Here is a message from Brock Adler, national organizer for NAAEE about our good standing in MN:

    "You all in MN are way ahead of the rest of us with [Congresswoman Betty] McCollum and [Congressman Keith] Ellison as inaugural co-sponsors this year.  [Congressman Tim] Walz has also sponsored in the past ... And your two Senators [Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar] have top scores from the League of Conservation Voters"

    ***Begin Press Release*** 

    Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Strengthen Environmental Education
    Reed, Kirk, Sarbanes, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce The No Child Left Inside Act
    WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to reconnect more kids with nature and address critical environmental challenges, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) and U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA)  are introducing legislation to strengthen and expand environmental education in America’s classrooms.  The No Child Left Inside Act of 2013 will help expand environmental education in schools across the country by bringing locally developed, high-quality environmental education programs to more schools and providing federal assistance to states to develop and implement environmental literacy plans. 
    Studies show getting kids outside and teaching them about nature helps them raise achievement in other subjects and has important health benefits too.  Yet studies also show the amount of time children now spend outdoors has declined significantly in the past 20 years.  Today, many schools are being forced to scale back environmental programs and curtail outdoor activities.
    “Teaching children about the environment and giving them a hands-on opportunity to experience nature makes them smarter and healthier.  Environmental education should be an important part of the curriculum in our schools.  This legislation will help reconnect more kids with nature and raise student achievement in core subjects like math, science, and reading,” said Senator Reed.  “Environmental awareness should be second nature for our young people and protecting the environment is crucial to future economic growth.”
    “To prepare American students to compete in the 21st century global economy, this bill uses an innovative approach to teaching science and bringing the benefits of outdoor activity to more children,” Senator Kirk said.  “Our bill promotes hands-on learning and an integrated curriculum, while bolstering important science, technology, engineering and math education programs."
    “Environmental education must be a national priority,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Hands-on, outdoor interaction with the environment enhances student achievement – not only in science, but also in reading, math, and social studies.  By investing in education that will grow the next generation of innovators, scientists and environmental stewards, we will prepare our workforce of the future to meet the many economic, environmental, and energy-related challenges our country is facing.”
    “This bill reflects a larger, overall responsibility to promote environmental stewardship across generations,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Incorporating environmental learning is a down payment on our future. Research shows that promoting a hands-on approach to teaching kids about the environment improves student achievement in science as well as reading, math and social studies – all which directly strengthens our global competitiveness.”
    The No Child Left Inside Act would provide funds to encourage partnerships between school districts, colleges, parks, and non-profits and other community-based organizations to implement the improved curricula and provide professional development for teachers on the use of field-based, service, and experiential learning.
    Additionally, the bill will add environmental education as an authorized activity under other traditional federal grant programs and require cooperation, joint planning, and reporting by federal agencies involved in environmental education.
    NCLI is supported by over 50 million citizens from 2,200 local, regional, and national organizations in the No Child Left Inside Coalition, including the League of Conservation Voters, National Education Association, National Science Teachers Association, National Wildlife Federation, and the Outdoor Industry Association, as well as hundreds of colleges, universities, businesses, and health care organizations.
    The bill numbers for the No Child Left Inside Act are S. 1306 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 2702 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

     -- John Smith serves as the Education Program Assistant for the Will Steger Foundation, and volunteers for the MAEE Board of Directors
  • 26 Jun 2013 3:57 PM | Anonymous member
    Using the Garden as a Classroom
    -- By Britt Gangeness, MAEE Member

    On June 15, 2013 five MAEE members visited three schoolyard gardens. If you missed it, here are the highlights and recommended resources.

    Blooming Heights Edible Schoolyard

    We first visited Blooming Heights Edible Schoolyard, in Columbia Heights. The garden is beginning its fourth growing season. This learning space for students early childhood through high school and beyond was provided through the Statewide Health Improvement Program funding. A committee of students, teachers, community members, staff, and Anoka County Master Gardeners worked together to create a beautiful garden where students can connect a variety of academic studies through hands-on learning. Blooming Heights is located in a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis and in the garden and orchard a full range of vegetables, fruit, berries, herbs and flowers are grown, harvested, and eaten!

    Great River School


    Our second stop was the Great River School in St. Paul. This is an urban Montessori learning community, which prepares students for their unique roles as responsible and engaged citizens in the world.  Teacher Tami Limberg and two student interns lead us on a tour of their school garden and talk about how it got started, how they care for their chickens, rabbits, and bees, and how they keep the garden going all summer long.

     Seward Montessori Peace Garden

    Our third stop was the Seward Montessori Peace Garden, in Minneapolis. The tour was led by a parent volunteer and Kristi Pursell, an MAEE member and educator with the Midwest Food Connection.  We all brought home a handful of mint from this garden!

    Resources and networking

    The five of us on the tour had a lot in common, and I find that many MAEE members are interested in garden and food education. We’ve got a great network within our membership for ideas, site visits, or trouble shooting. Email if you want to get some names of fellow garden-loving members.

    A few "must have" resources mentioned for anyone doing garden education:
    Also for your radar, leaders in the schoolyard garden movement are putting on the Second Annual Schoolyard Garden Summit, February 28, 2014. (Here is the agenda from the First Annual Schoolyard Garden Summit.)

  • 13 May 2013 11:04 PM | Anonymous
    Open Letter to Commissioner Brenda Cassellius 
     - From the MAEE Board of Directors

    **Note: this letter was sent on May 13th, 2013.  Any response and follow-up will be published here**

    May 13th, 2013
    Dear Commissioner Brenda Cassellius,

    We are writing - as we did in 2010 - in support of the Environmental & Outdoor Ed. Specialist position at the Minnesota Department of Education.  We are asking that the MDE continue to fund this temporary position through grants or other funding.

    The Minnesota Association for Environmental Education (MAEE) is a non-profit that exists to support and advance environmental education (EE) in Minnesota.  The Environmental & Outdoor Ed. Specialist position has been an important connection between EE professionals in our state, the MDE, and new teachers who are just beginning to use EE and outdoor education in their classrooms.

    Because this position is so important to our 250+ members, we watch it closely.  We are working with our membership to share the real impacts of EE and this position with you in letters.  The choice to leave it unfunded beyond this fiscal year is disappointing and frustrating for thousands of teachers and students who will be impacted.

    The Environmental and Outdoor Education Specialist position was created as a part of a 2010 Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund grant you received.  The position exists to “integrate environmental and outdoor education in grades 7-12.”  MAEE believes that mentoring and mini grants, like this project includes, are two important tools for helping teachers in our schools who want to give their students an EE experience, no matter their background or location.  We believe the position has clearly increased the amount and quality of EE in our state.  And we believe in the words of Arne Duncan:

    "If we want our students prepared (for STEM jobs) ... then there is no better way 
    ... whether it is 2nd grade or 11th or 12th grade ... 
    than to get kids out, in the outdoors, with environmental education"

    - US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, April 16, 2013

    EE is important for all students; it boosts achievement, health and long-term success, and brings vivid relevancy and life into school. Our hope is that the position can be extended beyond 2013 - and be considered of permanent value - so that EE and outdoor education can continue to grow in Minnesota with support from the MDE.

    Thank you for your support of Minnesota’s students and teachers, and for your consideration.


    The MAEE Board of Directors

  • 13 Apr 2013 11:16 AM | Anonymous
    Earth Day's Origins & Ways to Get Involved this Year

    by Rachel Maxwell, MAEE Board of Directors

    Many of you are likely aware that Earth Day is coming up.  This year, April 22 marks the 43rd celebration of this special day.

    Earth Day was founded in 1970 by a senator from our neighboring Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson.  He was inspired to do so after witnessing the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA, the largest oil spill in the US at the time, and the 3rd largest in US history.  His goal was to create so much energy around environmental awareness that environmental protection would be pushed onto the national political agenda.  

    Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.

    At this first Earth Day celebration, more than 20 million Americans organized to promote a healthy, sustainable environment.  Enlisting bipartisan support, this first Earth Day led to the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

    This news clip from April 22, 1970 highlights some of the energy around that first Earth Day:

    From Past to Present

    Since its inception, Earth Day Network has amassed over 1 billion environmental service acts, or "Acts of Green" and upped its online database to over 900,000 community members.

    In light of our own commemoration of Earth Day, we wanted to pass along some events happening around the state of Minnesota to commemorate this day.

    Please share any other events in your neck of the woods in the comments section! 

    Saturday, April 20
    Twin Cities Area
    St. Cloud
    Sunday, April 21
    Twin Cities Area

    How do you plan on celebrating Earth Day? 

    What are some other neat events taking place in your area?

    Share in the comments below!

  • 01 Apr 2013 3:32 PM | Anonymous
    Let's Hack Environmental Education 

    There's a resourcefulness movement afoot.  People are purposefully "breaking into" and "repairing" one product, one daily routine, and one Nintendo Wii at a time.  It's called hacking.  

    No, don't worry, there is no criminal intent here; I won't try and guess your password (house number? zip code? name of your cat? ... Oh, I give up!)  A growing portion of what "hacking" is used to describe in mainstream culture is simply glorified tinkering.  You can, for example, hack your hotel roomRoomba Vacuum, and of course your Nintendo Wii.  There are hackers that just make Ikea furniture do things the Swedes never saw coming.  To these people, hacking is about experimentation, liberation, and optimizing your surroundings to achieve your goals; it makes products do things they were never intended to do.

    "The defining factor for our success is never resource, it's resourcefulness
    - Life Coach Tony Robbins in his 2006 TED Talk

    The same tinkering and experimentation is being used to optimize one's daily routine and make life better.  Take, for example, the website Lifehacker whose mission is to deliver "tips and downloads for getting things done".  Spend 5 minutes on the website and you can learn about cleaning copper cookware with ketchup and salt, how to do laundry like a boss as well as the latest apps and high-tech tools for hacking your life.

    So, folks, here is my challenge to you: let's hack environmental education.  Here are the guiding ideas:
    1. We want more environmental education
    2. We want better environmental education
    3. Keep the audience in mind: The target audience is the average MN educator - a person constrained for nearly every resource (time, money, etc.)  The best hacks will be cheap and accessible.
    Ready?  Future posts in this series will be specific challenges to hack limited pieces of the EE puzzle.  Everyone is invited to submit answers in the comments section of each post.  The winner: everyone who reads your idea and finds it helpful.

    John Smith is an MAEE Board Member, Blogger at Brain Nation, Education Program Assistant at the Will Steger Foundation
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