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Newsletter

Here's What's Trending in September

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL!

Here’s to a great 2018-2019 and our team can’t wait to see what your Eco-Action Teams accomplish. Below is a brief list of ways the team can hit the ground running.

1. Host an Eco-Action Team kickoff or set a goal for forming the school’s Eco-Action Team.

2. Update your school’s dashboard. Update the school’s profile and team members, set this year’s goals and add pictures and/or video from the end of last year.

3. Have teams develop a communications plan for the first semester. Utilize our new Eco-Schools Year at a Glance document to assist teams in developing a communications plan by six weeks, quarter, semester or year. What content, campaigns, and initiatives do we want to share with students, staff, parents and the community?

The GLOBE Program New Carbon Cycle Protocol

GLOBE logoCarbon is the most abundant element in living things. The GLOBE Program is pleased to announce the new Carbon Cycle Protocol. The Carbon Cycle eTraining is now online. The new GLOBE Carbon Cycle Protocol and eTraining module use a systems-thinking approach to gain a foundation in the carbon cycle and its relation to climate and energy. The new materials (which ask students/teachers to enter measurement data for three types of vegetation: trees, shrubs, and herbaceous) incorporate a diverse set of activities geared toward upper-middle and high school students. GLOBE’s new protocol is a great compliment to our new LEAF pathway (Learning About Forests).


SCHOOLYARD HABITATS®

Outdoor Learning Resources
We are excited that over 7,300 schools have become Certified Schoolyard Habitats®. As the new school year begins, we are sharing some helpful resources to assist with planning activities tailored specifically to an outdoor learning environment. The Kids Gardening website has numerous resources for garden-related activities, including the Digging into Soils curriculum, targeted for high schoolers, with activities linked to the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, at all grade levels, they have a number of lesson plans related to Soils and the Environment and Plant Science. For outdoor activities, the Living Schoolyard Activity Guide – United States Edition is a free resource guide with over 130 activities for children aged 3-18. And finally, if you are one of the almost 3,800 schools in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, check out the School Grounds for Learning school action project ideas, which are also aligned with the Eco-Schools USA pathways.


FROM THE WILDLIFE GUIDE

Gopher Tortoises

In this month’s Ranger Rick® magazine, students can learn more about the life of the gopher tortoise. These reptiles can be found burrowing in sandy soil in the southeastern United States in longleaf pine forests. Check out the colorful infographic which shows how other species are dependent on this keystone species for their survival. Unfortunately, according to the National Wildlife Federation’s Recovering America’s Wildlife Act fact sheet, “The longleaf pine community, the ecosystem primarily inhabited by this species, has been reduced to less than 5 percent of its historical range.” What impact does this have on the species? How might students connect with and assist wildlife and forest agencies with their conservation efforts?

The activity in the September Ranger Rick Educator’s Guide encourages students to create a game as they are learning more about gopher tortoises. The National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Guide can be used to learn more about turtles and other reptiles. 


RESULTS: END OF YEAR TEACHER SURVEY

Thank you! Our team appreciates all the feedback provided as a part of our End of Year Survey. In Part 1 of 2, we are highlighting the most relevant results. While the Schoolyard Habitats and Consumption & Waste pathways were most often addressed by schools, we are excited to see that some of our schools are beginning to tackle our new WOW (Watersheds, Oceans & Wetlands) and LEAF (Learning About Forests) pathways. As far as spending time outdoors teaching and learning, we hope the Schoolyard Habitat resources provided above will be useful in planning more outdoor learning time. On a district level, we are encouraged that almost 2/3 of you reported your school district has sustainability goals as part of their strategic plan. As always, feel free to contact us at Eco-SchoolsUSA@nwf.org. We are in this together!


ENVIRONMENTAL FOCUS AREAS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION

For the month of September we will highlight the Sustainable Food pathway and related Sustainable Development Goal #2 Zero Hunger. It’s an opportunity for students to better understand where their food comes from, and how they can promote fresh, local food options at school and in their community. Globally, SDG2 looks to end hunger by implementing resilient agricultural practices and ensuring access to nutritious food for all. Follow us on social media @EcoSchoolsUSA to get more tips and information related to this pathway and SDG. Remind students to share our tips and information during morning announcements, news programming and/or monthly communications.

Learn more about the relationship between Eco-Schools and the global call for action through the Sustainable Development Goals.


ON THE BLOG

How Will Climate Change Affect the Future of Baseball?

As summer comes to a close, we hope all our educators and administrators had a chance to enjoy some relaxing time with family and friends. For many of you, that may have included watching your favorite team play baseball on a warm summer night. The National Wildlife Federation recently shared a blog How Will Climate Change Affect the Future of Baseball?, which also includes a fact sheet that can be used to kick off a discussion about climate change with students. The blog discusses impacts of extreme weather on the postponement of baseball games, and the decline in ash tree populations (a popular material for baseball bats) due to an invasive beetle. Learn more about all of our Climate Education Resources, including the Climate Change pathway.


FAQs

As the country is getting back to school, our team wants to continue addressing the recent feedback we received from teachers who participated in our End of Year Survey. 


1. Many of the audits are not geared towards younger students. 
We are in the process of grade-banding all of our audits. To date, we have completed this process for  Schoolyard Habitats, WOW (Watersheds, Oceans & Wetlands) and LEAF (Learning About Forests) pathways.

2. I don’t know where to begin the program? Once you have registered as an Eco-School, you can choose from 12 environmental themes or pathways to implement. The Seven Step Framework will be used to implement your chosen pathway. Conducting an environmental checklist up front will help determine which areas of the school may need improvement. Learn more about implementing our program

3. What resources are available to help implement the Eco-Schools pathways?  Here’s a good place to get started using the resources available by pathway.


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