We’re sharing some EE inspiration this week in celebration of EE Week!
As a student at UNM and former NM resident, Edward Abbey knew well the beauty and wilderness of our state.
A Letter from EEANM’s Executive Director
Greetings Environmental Education Community,
Spring is in the air as evidenced by all of the tumbleweeds blowing across the landscape. As I am getting settled into this new position, I thought I would take a few minutes to reach out and share more about why I was so excited to take on this new challenge as Executive Director of the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico (EEANM).
Many of you have asked, so I thought it was time to share a bit more about myself in hopes of better explaining my enthusiasm for EEANM and this new position:
1) I am the product of a childhood spent outdoors.
Growing up on the edge of suburbia and an urban environment, I feel fortunate that my mom kicked us outside whenever the weather was nice. I now understand it was to get us out of her hair, but spending time outdoors exploring the neighborhood helped lay the groundwork for a life-long appreciation of being out-of-doors. I have experienced first-hand the magic that occurs when bringing our youth outside, whether it is in their schoolyard or on a field trip; I want to see this happen even more in our beautiful state.
2) Twelve years ago, I fell in love with environmental education.
As a young wildlife biologist, I was seeking opportunities to make a difference. One day, I sat down and wrote a job description and it turned out to be for an environmental educator. I then wrote a letter to the Executive Director of Audubon New Mexico, David Henderson, and, to my surprise, he took a chance on me. I have never looked back, and my passion and commitment to environmental education has only grown over time.
3) I genuinely want to leave the world a better place (and am willing to work hard to do so).
For my undergraduate education, I applied to only one college, College of the Atlantic. COA was the first U.S. college to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment – it’s “for idealists with elbow grease.” Well, that is me in a nut shell. I strive for a better world, one where we are kinder to each other and our planet. However, I do not shy away from hard work and “Persistence” is my middle name. I truly believe EEANM has the potential, with your support, to embed environmental literacy across New Mexico, and I will work hard to make this happen.
4) I understand what it takes to be an environmental educator.
I feel honored to have had the opportunity to teach over 20,000 of New Mexico’s youth, mostly in multi-day outdoor education programs. I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and look forward to being outside with youth. I also know what it’s like to be physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day from the pressures of being the one responsible for little lives out-of-doors. I hope to find ways to support you and your work, which I value very much.
5) In each of my interactions, I strive for integrity and compassion.
To leave the world a better place, it must begin with our interactions with and support of one another.
The Environmental Education Association of New Mexico is not one person or even a handful of people; EEANM is all of us and all that we collectively offer to promote quality environmental education in our great state.
We need you and your support to realize this vision.
You have my promise that I will strive to reach out to you and support the great work you are accomplishing.
Your support, through an EEANM membership or donation, will go a long way towards creating an environmentally literate citizenry. Please consider a membership at the $50 level and I promise that your support will be leveraged to its maximum potential. I look forward to working with each of you more in the future.
Yours in promoting quality environmental education statewide,
It is almost time for National Environmental Education (EE) Week! This year, EE Week will run from April 17-23 and this is a great time to think about incorporating some new EE activities into your planning. The National Environmental Education Foundation has some great resources broken into three themes:
As you may recall, part of the EE Memorial that was passed by the NM Legislature recently including asking the Governor to declare an “Environmental Education Week” in April, encouraging all K-12 teachers and state agencies to celebrate environmental education by spending at least one hour of learning time outdoors. Although we are waiting to hear if this will happen in 2016, that does not stop all us engaged in EE to encourage the classroom teachers in our lives to get their classes outside for at least one hour of learning outdoors during EE Week.
With that in mind, please take the time to get the youth that you work with outside during EE Week and encourage those youth to take a few minutes to write a letter about their experience. In an effort to gather as many voices as possible to discuss the benefits of EE, we at EEANM will begin collecting letters from youth to pass along to decision makers. Please have students address letters “To Whom it May Concern” or “Dear Sir and Madam” and I will make sure those letters get to our decision makers including the Governor, State Legislators, and other elected officials. Please feel free to send letters to EEANM, P.O. Box 36958, Albuquerque, NM 87176. Again, youth can have a powerful voice about the importance of EE and we at EEANM would like to make sure their voices are heard!
Thank you EE community for all that you do!
Recently, we received a package from the Friends of Albuquerque’s Environmental Story with a copy of Albuquerque’s Environmental Story along with a generous donation to EEANM (which we so very much appreciated and will put to good use!). You can see Albuquerque’s Environmental Story by clicking on this link: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED170118 The first edition was printed in 1978 with the latest edition coming out in 1996; however, there is a plethora of information that is still relevant today. The stories shared are for a variety of audiences, young and old, city dwellers and nature lovers, historians and environmentalists. This guide offers activities for students, a lot of interesting history, and many issues to consider that can still be addressed. Although this is focused on Albuquerque, there are many pieces of interest to all New Mexicans throughout this book. We at EEANM are looking at ways to scan Albuquerque’s Environmental Story in an accessible, user-friendly format so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, I hope all of us in central New Mexico can keep contributing to Albuquerque’s environmental story in our ways. Thank you once again to the Friends of Albuquerque’s Environmental Story!
House Joint Memorial 3 has passed with unanimous “Yes” votes in both the House and Senate!
If you are on our EcoEd listserv, you saw the flurry of activity around the Joint Memorial for Environmental Education (HJM3), which passed on February 18, 2016!
Thank you to our sponsors, Rep. Kelly Fajardo and Sen. Michael Sanchez. And thank you to everyone who helped support the memorial with calls, emails, and your presence at the Roundhouse! We were pleased to have lobbying help from fantastic partners and student ambassadors, including fourth grade students from Katherine Gallegos Elementary School in Los Lunas and Youth Ambassadors from MRG E3.
In a nutshell, the joint memorial recognizes the importance of environmental education, highlights the 300+ educators who developed NM’s environmental literacy plan, and asks for four things:
- The legislature to affirm the importance of environmental education
- The governor to declare an “Environmental Education Week” in April, encourage all K-12 teachers and state agencies to celebrate environmental education by spending at least one hour of learning time outdoors
- NM Game & Fish & Dept. of Agriculture to lead a study on the feasibility of an EE grant program (in cooperation with State Parks, State Forestry, State Land Office, Dept. of Health, Public Education, CYFD, Environment Dept., and Cultural Affairs)
- Public Education Department to link to the environmental literacy plan as a resource for teachers
You can read the entire memorial here.
Wild Friends, a long-time member and partner of EEANM, is also busy in Santa Fe. Legislators know that turquoise shirts approaching mean bright young minds are coming to lobby for their cause. This year, Wild Friends is focused on bees.
Senate Joint Memorial 6 encourages state agencies to be examples with bee-friendly landscaping. It asks for designated pollinator gardens, research on commercial bee populations, and a governor-proclaimed “Bee Aware Day.” Follow their progress and find out how to support SJM6 on Wild Friend’s Facebook page.
A Letter from EEANM’s Executive Director
2016 marks the 20th anniversary for the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico! For the last two decades, dedicated EEANM Board Members, volunteers, members, contractors, and staff have been supporting the environmental education (EE) community with professional development opportunities, partnerships, and education of our community about what environmental education actually is.
This year is shaping up to be another exciting year for EEANM. Currently, we are working with a variety of partners on the passage of House Joint Memorial 3/Senate Joint Memorial 4 which acknowledges the importance of EE, as well as supporting more EE through state agencies and spreading the word about the Environmental Literacy Plan. (See below for details.) Additionally, we will continue to explore opportunities for Project Learning Tree, Project WET, and other training opportunities.
We are excited that our pilot group of EE Certification candidates are busily working on their self-assessments and professional development plans. We hope to have seven new Certified Environmental Educators in our state this fall!
We have also expanded the EE Certification Program to include an EE Certification Mentorship Program, which will better enable us to reach new leaders in traditionally underserved communities. There is so much promise in this new program to bring more credibility to those working in EE and the field in general.
And of course, we will continue to find ways to gather more support for the Environmental Literacy Plan, with the long-term goal of having an environmentally literate citizenry. Lastly, we will continue to strengthen our support for current partnerships and collaborations while reaching out to build new ones.
How can you help? Let me know what you like about EEANM. What is important to you? What should EEANM be doing that it is not? How can we, as your organization, support your efforts toward great environmental education around the state? I will be reaching out to you this year to help build upon what EEANM is doing well, and to grow and improve the organization.
But, don’t wait for me to ask you! My virtual office door is open to you, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or call me at 505-859-3366.
Yours in support of quality environmental education in New Mexico,
Executive Director, EEANM
From Elaine Hampton, via EcoEd
A free curriculum about border air quality is available to everyone in Spanish and English at BAQed.utep.edu.
Modules of 3 to 6 lessons, for Grade 3 through High School, take students through inquiry science, social justice, and community engagement.
- Fourth graders learn about air pollution caused by burning hydrocarbons from fossil fuels. They explore what it feels like to breathe if you have respiratory problems, and they make plans to have less air pollution around their school.
- Sixth graders measure temperature changes in ambient air compared to CO2 to understand the greenhouse effect and the foundations of climate change. They create public service announcements about the climate issues for the school news channel and their families.
- Using the important environmental history of the ASARCO copper smelter located near downtown El Paso, high school students learn how to identify sources of air pollution, the chemical behavior of these polluting compounds, and then explore options to reduce chemical air pollutants.
A project of the El Paso Independent School District and The University of Texas at El Paso, Center for Environmental Resource Management, funded by Environmental Protection Agency, U.S.-Mexico Border Environmental Education, Outreach and Support Program, 66.037. Supported in part by a grant from the USEPA Office of Air and Radiation, Grant #IT-83509301.
During a ceremony on December 16, we honored former executive director Barbara Garrity for her amazing contributions to EEANM with the 2015 Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Award.
Barbara has been instrumental in growing the organization. She has been the key organizer in the Environmental Literacy Plan, Environmental Certification Program, and upcoming Environmental Education memorial. She has worked with countless educators and community groups across the state to promote and support EE through trainings seminars, conferences and meaningful projects. She has worked to increase the diversity of our board, members and networks as well.
From Stephanie Haan-Amato, Asombro Institute for Science Education
Increased temperatures and altered precipitation will make water–a limited resource in the arid southwestern United States–even scarcer in many locations.
With the aim of fostering climate literacy in our future citizens, the USDA Southwest Regional Climate Hub partnered with the Asombro Institute for Science Education to create an engaging, fun, and scientifically rigorous education unit for 6-12th grade students. It is aligned with Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Each activity was reviewed by an educator for educational practices and a scientist for scientific accuracy.
The Climate Change and the Water Cycle unit consists of nine activities, and we designed it to be conducted over 10 days (or 10 hours). Each activity can also stand alone, however, and the unit need not be completed in its entirety.
Materials for the activities can generally be purchased at a household goods store. Many activities use items that educators often have available; very few specialized supplies are needed.
At the conclusion of the unit, a Las Cruces middle school student commented: “I loved all of the activities! They are fun and help us understand about what goes on in the world.”
An educator, who conducted the activities said, “The entire curriculum is great, but I was particularly impressed with the progression of ideas and the variety of lessons.”
Another commented, “Students could see the relevance and importance of these real life issues.”
The curriculum is free to download at http://swclimatehub.info/education/climate-change-and-water-cycle. We simply ask that educators create a quick account by supplying some basic information for internal tracking purposes. We hope that EEANM educators and students will try and enjoy these fun new activities!