I had the privilege to attend the Midwest Environmental Education Conference (MEEC) on October 21-24. The event brought formal and non-formal environmental educators together at the Monona Terrace in Madison, WI. Monona Terrace is Silver LEED certified, practices recycling and composting throughout the building, and purchases 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. The conference was made great with the tastes of Wisconsin food, the sounds of the University of Wisconsin marching band, and the sights of environmental education organizations
On Wednesday and Thursday, I was able to share information about our curricula suite and upcoming release of Next Generation Climate, our brand new middle school curriculum. Educators were excited about the new curriculum for several reasons: it’s a climate change curriculum that uses the Next Generation Science Standards, it’s free to download on our webiste, and it uses lots of graphs and data to help students understand climate change. “You are so ahead of the game” was a phrase I heard from many participants regarding the inclusion of NGSS in our curricula. It was humbling to hear this and will help us focus our attention on helping Minnesota adopt the NGSS in 2018.
I met an artist from Beehive Collective on Thursday evening. This amazing group of artists tell stories about climate change and other environmental issues through fable and fairy tale illustrations. As he explained their work to me, I saw many parallels to our Climate Minnesota program. The artists travel and collect local stories, then get together and share what they learned and how they could incorporate their stories into a hand drawn piece of art. Beehive Collective was a great example of climate change education that is taking place outside of the classroom.
On Friday, I was able to attend a few sessions about climate change and environmental education. I was immersed in the science and culture of climate change, took part in a round table discussion about energy curriculum, and learned the ins and outs of public relations through a session on marketing. It was nice to see that Climate Generation is part of such a large and robust network of environmental education organizations. We all have our niche — but we are working together for the sustainability of our planet. My time in Madison was so valuable and I drove back to Minnesota with a sense of purpose, ready to keep marching on.