Memorial Recognizes the Importance of Environmental Education

celebrateIf you are on our EcoEd listserv, you’ve seen the flurry of activity around the Joint Memorial for Environmental Education (HJM3 and SJM4). With only a couple of weeks remaining in this year’s session, we’re working hard to move it through with help from some fantastic partners and student ambassadors.

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:

  1. The legislature to affirm the importance of environmental education
  2. 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
  3. NM Game & Fish 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 Ed., CYFD, and Cultural Affairs)
  4. Public Education Department to link to the environmental literacy plan as a resource for teachers

You can read the entire memorial here.

Everett, Sanchez and Garrity

Current and former EEANM Executive Directors, Eileen Everett and Barbara Garrity, with Senator Sanchez, co-sponsor of the EE Memorial.

Our sponsors, Rep. Kelly Fajardo and Sen. Michael Sanchez, have similar versions of the memorial moving through each house. This helps “fast track” it with one dropped at the end.

Thank you to everyone who has helped support the memorial so far with calls, emails, and your presence at the Roundhouse! We were pleased to have fourth grade students from Katherine Gallegos Elementary School in Los Lunas testify in the House committee along with the Senate Rules Committee. Youth Ambassadors from MRG E3 will be going on Feb. 4 to lobby. If you’d like to get your students involved, let us know!

Current Status

Updated: 2/10/16

HJM3 unanimously passed committee and passed on the floor! SJM4 unanimously passed the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Conservation Committee.

What Can You Do to Help?

  1. Contact your Senator and ask them to vote YES on SJM4. We’ll post details on EcoEd as they are available.

Students Have Legislature Buzzing

Wild Friends students with Senator Nancy Rodriguez

​Photo of students with Senator Nancy Rodriguez courtesy of Wild Friends.

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.

To the Roundhouse and Beyond

A Letter from EEANM’s Executive Director

NM-legislature-flowering-650p

Greetings!

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.

DSCN2441How 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 director@eeanm.org or call me at 505-859-3366.

Yours in support of quality environmental education in New Mexico,
Eileen Everett
Executive Director, EEANM

Air Quality Curriculum Now Available

From Elaine Hampton, via EcoEd

Students with beakers

Photo from BAQed.utep.edu.

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.

For example:

  • 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.

 

Garrity Honored For Outstanding Service to EE

Barbara GarrityDuring 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.

Climate Change and Water Cycle Activities

(Updated: 2/2/16)

From Stephanie Haan-Amato, Asombro Institute for Science Education

Students participating in curriculum activity

Students conducting an experiment with different insulating materials and their own body heat to model the enhanced greenhouse effect in the Insulating You, Insulating Earth activity. Photo courtesy of Asombro.

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!

EE Memorial introduced at Legislative Session 2016!

The EE Memorial, Senate Joint Memorial 4 SJM004 , “Affirming the Importance of Environmental Education,” has been prefiled with sponsors Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R) and Sen. Michael Sanchez (D) as sponsors. Katherine Gallegos Elementary school children in Los Lunas and some of our partners have provided input to the memorial and will be making a trip to Santa Fe to advocate and testify for the memorial. MRG E3 Youth Ambassadors will also be advocating for it at the session. Other teachers, students, classes, EE professionals, and interested citizens are encouraged to write to your legislator, either House or Senate or both, and express your support for the memorial. All are encouraged to make a trip to the session to advocate for the memorial – we can help you plan a trip for your class, your group, or as an individual.

You can find your legislator here:http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/legislator_search.aspx

As soon as we learn the committee assignments, we will post them here, so you can target your support to those who vote for it first in committees. If you would like to get involved in advocating at the session in Santa Fe, please contact Eileen Everett, Executive Director of the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico, at director@eeanm.org or (505) 859-3366.

Let’s make this happen!
http://www.nmlegis.gov/…/16%20R…/memorials/senate/SJM004.pdf

EE Fact Sheet

EEANM Welcomes Everett as New Director

Eileen teaching students near Santa Fe. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Watershed Association.

Eileen teaching students near Santa Fe. Photo courtesy of Santa Fe Watershed Association.

EEANM is pleased to announce our new Executive Director, Eileen Everett, who will begin working with us on January 11, 2016.

Eileen has a strong background in environmental education, having worked as a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as an environmental educator for Audubon New Mexico and the Santa Fe Watershed Association, running her consulting firm “Down to Earth Education,” and as a climate change educator for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Eileen is an enthusiastic and supportive member of EEANM and has served on our Board of Directors in the past. She has strong nonprofit experience, having worked as an Educator, Education Director, and even Interim Executive Director.

She is looking forward to taking charge in January and leading EEANM through its next phase of growth as we establish an office at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge and continue to support environmental education in New Mexico. Eileen is also a candidate for the first NM EE Certification Program, expecting to be certified by fall of 2016.

She will be a strong leader for EEANM and we look forward to what comes next!

2015 Becker Award Winners

From a South Valley farm to a southern NM trail race, our 2015 award winners have taken environmental education and run with it!

Garcia and Haan-AmatoThe Dr. Richard W. Becker Award honors New Mexico’s outstanding educators who are influencing students through environmental education and service learning. For 2015, we recognize two amazing individuals: Joe Garcia, Farm Education Director at La Plazita Institute, and Stephanie Haan-Amato, Science Education Specialist at the Asombro Institute for Science Education in Las Cruces.

Joe Garcia

Crops at Sanchez Farm

A garden bed at Sanchez Farm. Photo courtesy of Bernalillo County.

Joe Garcia is the Farm Education Director at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque’s South Valley. He has worked with the County Parks and Recreation office in California, La Plazita Institute as the Garden Manager and Educator, at UNM teaching classes, and working on numerous boards and committees.

During his time as Farm Education Director for La Plazita at Sanchez Farm Open Space, Joe worked with groups from Peanut Butter and Jelly preschoolers to college students to professionals at the Farm.  He has engaged numerous groups in service learning projects that include habitat restoration and garden-related activities, emphasizing the importance of service learning projects in the context of our larger environment and local community. He inspires people to deeply reflect on the incredible planet we live on, and see the magic all around us. Currently, he is working with college students as he facilitates the Garden Wisdom Program for transformative learning.

Joe has continued his own graduate education, now pursuing a Doctorate in Transformative Learning and Holistic Education. He keeps up-to-date on environmental literacy and philosophies of education that result in civic action and personal growth. Joe has partnered with EEANM through several projects, bringing a depth of experience and perspective.

Joe has been described as “the consummate conservation education professional who is passionate, hard-working and knowledgeable in natural history, environmental education and natural resource interpretation. Moreover, Mr. Garcia has a keen ability to relate to varied stakeholders and engage nontraditional audiences all the while being an effective environmental educator.”

Stephanie Haan-Amato

5KArroyo-Desert-Dash-Asombro

Runners enjoying the Chihuahuan Desert during the Desert Dash. Photo courtesy of Asombro Institute.

Stephanie Haan-Amato is the Science Education Specialist at the Asombro Institute for Science Education in Las Cruces. She previously worked as a biologist and a high school biology teacher. Stephanie’s focus has been on three programs that highlight her talent for engaging participants in environmental education through stewardship and collaboration: (1) Earth Squad citizen action program, (2) Climate Hub curriculum development, and (3) Desert Dash Trail Races.

Stephanie created the Earth Squad citizen action program in spring 2013 to give youth a sense of power and personal investment when they implement solutions to environmental issues. Students worked with Stephanie over 11 weeks, learning about greenhouse gases and how to find reliable, online scientific resources about climate change. Equipped with this new knowledge of climate change science, students brainstormed potential actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then formed 3 committees to implement their plans: (a) a school recycling plan involving students, staff, and parents, (b) a campaign and contest to reduce energy used at school by turning off unused lights and appliances, (c) a “no- idling zone” in the parent pick-up area to reduce carbon emissions from idling cars.

USDA’s Southwest Regional Climate Hub delivers climate-smart information and technologies for agriculture and land management. Stephanie is developing five, inquiry-based education modules for middle and high school students who will become the next farmers, ranchers, land managers, and informed citizens. Stephanie developed the first module on the impact of global climate change on the water cycle in the southwest U.S. The unit includes nine hands-on activities to help students understand causes and consequences of predicted climate change on the Southwest’s water cycle through innovative experiments, games, critical readings, and data interpretation and presentation.                          

The Desert Dash Trail Races are now an annual event at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. The event brings people out to enjoy getting active and supporting Asombro’s programming.

 

Join us to Honor and Celebrate!

Join us in celebrating Barbara Garrity’s retirement after 8 1/2 years as our Executive Director! She has been selected to receive the Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Award and Joe Garcia and Stephanie Hahn-Amato will receive the Dr. Richard W. Becker Award for Outstanding Environmental Educator.  Joe Garcia will receive his award at this gathering and Stephanie Haan-Amato will receive hers on January 18 in Las Cruces.
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