NWF News: Artemis Podcast, EcoSchools, a Voice in Vermont

Latest news from the National Wildlife Federation & affiliates: 'Artemis Podcast' on the air; EcoSchools relaunches; spotlight on Vermont Natural Resources Council

  • By Delaney McPherson
  • Field Work
  • Dec 30, 2023

Women on the Land & the Airwaves

What do you wear hunting when you’re pregnant? How do you get out in the field while fighting breast cancer? Where are the leadership positions for women in conservation? These are some of the questions answered by “Artemis Podcast,” a weekly production launched in 2021 that elevates women’s voices in sporting and conservation from Artemis, the National Wildlife Federation’s network of sportswomen.

“We’re taking women who are ordinary—but also extraordinary—and showcasing what they do and how they do it,” says Carlee Koutnik (above), Artemis’ program manager and, for the past year, the podcast’s host.

An image of a group of people sitting down and facing the horizon.

Each episode is bookended by two questions. The first, “What’s in your freezer?,” asks guests what they’ve fished, foraged and hunted recently. In the closing segment, “Hits and Misses,” guests offer lessons they’ve learned from recent successes and missteps. In between, guests share stories from the field and stream, cover new conservation science, discuss gun safety and more. Recent topics have ranged from bowhunting with a baby to prescribed burns in forests to spearfishing. On the show, Koutnik interviews scientists and representatives from groups such as the Minority Outdoor Alliance and Hunters of Color, as well as Artemis Ambassadors (pictured)—volunteers from across the country who organize meetups in their local communities where women can come together to hunt, fish, forage and learn. (See “Why I Hunt” for one ambassador’s story.)

“We’re holding space to bring more women to the conservation table,” Koutnik says. Subscribe, download and listen to the podcast at artemis.nwf.org/podcast and on all major podcast platforms.

“We look for the authentic voice. ... We are both the experts and the learners.” —Carlee Koutnik

An image of a student and adult planting in a garden bed.

A Digital Tool for Hands-On Learning

Since 2009, NWF’s EcoSchools U.S. program has provided a framework for students in grades K-12 to learn about and take action for the environment and climate. This past fall, NWF introduced a major upgrade designed to increase school engagement by making the program more accessible, flexible and fun.

“We’re taking issues and tailoring them to young audiences so they can begin to understand how it is unfolding in the world and their communities,” says Jennifer Hammonds, NWF director of K-12 education.

An image of Sebastian Santos-Blancas and his father Juan Arambulo taking part in planting day at Whigham Elementary.

For the revamp, NWF’s education team took inspiration from EcoSchools Canada and surveyed U.S. teachers. Using that feedback, the team worked to create a new portal that is simpler to use and offers more customizable curriculum. They also added an online dashboard letting users track progress in real time.

The new website houses a library of action cards that fall under at least one of three categories: Wildlife and Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Healthy and Resilient Communities. Students and teachers can browse the library and select cards such as “restoring biodiversity balance in the schoolyard” and “paper and cardboard recycling program.” Each card contains steps to complete an activity, such as planting trees (pictured) or creating a native plant garden (top); questions to get students thinking deeper; additional resources and relevant United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. EcoSchools has four levels of certification, and each completed card earns points toward those levels.

The new online dashboard—one of the program’s biggest changes—tracks the impact of participating schools, allowing students to see how they compare on community service hours, square feet of habitat created, waste diverted from landfills and more.

“A school doesn’t exist alone,” says Hammonds. “They’re a part of the community, and bringing the community into the experience is a high priority.”

Donor Spotlight: Geoff Michaelson and Lehua Ii-Michaelson of Waialua, Hawai‘i

WHY WE GIVE  “As we go along in life, we champion for everything we can. In Hawai‘i, we are beyond a critical path of extinction for our birds. We’ve tried to instill in our children the awareness of nature, because nature is everything. We’re stewards of the land, so we try to take care of it. It’s part of our aloha.”

An image of Dead Creek at sunrise

A Voice in Vermont

“A lot of people say there’s a physical change when you drive into Vermont from any direction,” says Brian Shupe, executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC), a National Wildlife Federation affiliate. “It’s a unique state that’s worthy of protection, and that’s what we’ve done.”

For 60 years, VNRC has preserved habitat (above, at Dead Creek), convened fellow organizations in the state and worked toward climate resilience—a strength especially valuable last year. In July, Vermont experienced devastating flooding that stranded people, blocked roadways and destroyed crops. In response, VNRC hosted two discussions on flood resilience and climate-smart policy in impacted areas with local leaders and community members.

An image of a child holding a spotted salamander during a migration.

In other efforts to protect Vermont’s picturesque landscapes, VNRC has been working closely with lawmakers to modernize Act 250, the state’s more than 50-year-old land use law, including updating the renewable energy standard and calling for stricter regulations on forest fragmentation. In working on the latter, VNRC created an online tool to investigate and analyze forest fragmentation.

All of this work involves partnerships, from local conservation initiatives (pictured, at an amphibian migration) to convening coalitions such as the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, the Water Caucus and The Forest Partnership. “We bring folks together to protect what is special about this state,” Shupe says.

An image of a Canada lynx pouncing.

Bulletin: Impact Report

The National Wildlife Federation’s annual impact report is now available online. To read stories about NWF’s efforts recovering wildlife, working with communities, conserving land and water and more, visit impact.nwf.org.

More from National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation:

From Field and Stream to Table »
Women in Hunting and Fishing: Artemis »
Read Last Issue's Field Work »

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