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Here's What's Trending in December/January

An Inconvenient Sequel


Don't Throw That in the Trash

As part of the Eco-School program, our hope is that students will carry forward positive sustainability practices into the community at large and more importantly at home. Pathways such as Consumption & Waste and Energy help inform students about ways to reduce waste and save energy. Recycling can be a big part of the equation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that 25% more trash is generated between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

From pumpkins to evergreen trees, there are creative ways to recycle and reuse all the holiday trimmings. Check your local community’s resources to find the best way to recycle. In the December/January issue of Ranger Rick® magazine, Ranger Rick and friends discover that recycled Christmas trees in Louisiana are being used to help control erosion and create new wildlife habitat at Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. So don’t be too quick to throw that tree in the trash.


Help Protect Threatened and Endangered Species

Endangered Species CoalitionAre you interested in helping to support/promote endangered species conservation and the everyday actions that people can take? The Endangered Species Youth Activists (ESYA) Network members are young people ages 13-18 (and those 9-12 with parents’ permission) who love animals and nature, and who want to save our disappearing wildlife and last wild spaces. Members can share their experiences, talents, and ideas for protecting threatened and endangered plants and animals. ESYA activities will include making a pledge to help protect a specific threatened or endangered wildlife, sharing endangered species information with teachers and school classes, organizing Endangered Species Day events, helping to plant milkweed and pollinator gardens in their communities, and providing ideas on how we can get more young people involved. Learn more.


An Educator's Guide to Nest Boxes: Attract Nesting Birds and Spark Curiosity with Birdhouses

Bird Sleuth Nest Boxes

cit-i-zen sci-ence

In North America, citizen science typically refers to research collaborations between scientists and volunteers, particularly (but not exclusively) to expand opportunities for scientific data collection and to provide access to scientific information for community members.”

(source: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology)


Nest boxes (aka “birdhouses”) are a great addition to a schoolyard habitat, or even a veggie garden (birds eat bugs that plague veggies). The right kind of birdhouse will be easy to open, for on-the-spot learning and intimate peeks into the life cycles of birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created a helpful resource to launch your project, the Educator’s Guide to Nest Boxes.

The small wooden boxes aren’t just good for birds. Building nest boxes is also empowering for young girls and boys, many of whom will use tools for the first time to make their box. We recommend building boxes in pairs of two, each student taking a turn helping the other to complete their box. This helps stabilize the wood when joining the pieces, and ensures that everyone gets to do all the fun stuff.

Already have campus nest boxes? Take the next step, and get certified to monitor nests as a NestWatch citizen scientist!

As students participate in NestWatch they may like Ranger Rick’s Can You ID Birds?, which has observation and bird finder identifier tips.




If every animal had a month, most people would say December belongs to the reindeer. Also known as caribou, reindeer range in weight from 240-700 pounds with an average life span of 15 years in the wild. Reindeer are herbivores, with sharp hooves that work well when they are digging for food in the snow. Did you know that both male and female reindeer have antlers? Learn more facts about reindeer.

Be sure to check out the December/January issue of Ranger Rick magazine for more fun facts about reindeer. And don’t forget to download the free Educator’s Guide that provides extension activities for each edition, including a Reindeer: Facts and Opinions Student Page.


Take Your GLOBE Protocols to the Next Level

GLOBE Regional Student Research Symposia Midwest

Are your students using GLOBE protocols to conduct field investigations? Students from across the country are invited to gather at six face-to-face regional Student Research Symposia. It's an opportunity to share the results of field investigations with other students from around the country. The Symposia will be held at various locations throughout the U.S. between April and June 2018. Updated information can be found on The GLOBE Program website, along with student and teacher resources and upcoming webinar opportunities. There are also funds available to assist teams in going to the symposium.

GLOBE is also hosting the 2018 GLOBE International Virtual Science Symposium.



Energy Pathway

Every year schools spend billions of dollars on energy costs. Districts are going green and students around the country are there to do their part. The Eco-Schools Energy Pathway provides the framework to guide students and teachers to implement cost savings throughout the school. Recent news stories have highlighted the millions of dollars in cost savings from schools and districts throughout the country. A recent story in North Carolina highlighting Cumberland County reports the school district saved more than 3.74 million dollars from reduced energy costs since 2011. Another story from Santa Maria, California, reports on the installation of solar panels at several high schools, with an expected energy cost savings to the district in the millions.

Take a look at the sample Energy Action Plan to see the types of activities students can do to get started on the path to school-wide energy savings. Learn more about the Eco-Schools Energy Pathway.


The "Butterbiker" Comes to Texas


Every year when the monarch butterfly makes its 3,000 mile journey from Mexico, students in many of our Eco-Schools in Central Texas wait patiently to see if monarchs will make a stop in their local pollinator habitat. Recently several of these schools had a special visitor, Sara Dykman, who arrived on her “Butterbike.” Sara is on a special mission – to follow the monarchs’ migration and then spread the word about action people can take to help protect Monarchs. Read more about Sara’s story on the National Wildlife Federation blog, A Unique Visitor to Austin Eco-Schools Community.


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