Letter from the Co-Chairs
The sun shines brightly outside my window on this spring equinox, implying that the day is warmer than it really is. As winter subsides into spring and we anticipate milder days to come, SWEEP is abuzz with preparations for our upcoming event,
Cultivating Climate Resilience: An educational summit for empowerment and action
on Saturday, April 9 at Montpelier High School (see the summit article in this e-newsletter). Through this summit, SWEEP offers our membership and friends a dynamic opportunity to energize climate education efforts across the state. It is one of a series of such events occurring in each New England state with funding from a U.S. EPA grant.
Our summit represents a revitalized commitment by the SWEEP board to address compelling and timely issues faced by our state's environmental education community. Assisted by our enthusiastic summit coordinator, Bethany Powers, SWEEP has dramatically increased our capacity to serve as a communications hub, network convener, and professional development provider for our statewide membership. The summit was guided by our updated mission statement:
SWEEP is a nonprofit coalition of individuals and organizations whose mission is to promote a sustainable future by fostering exceptional environmental literacy work through our state and regional networks. SWEEP envisions a society that follows environmental sustainability principles for the well-being of humans and global ecosystems.
Invigorated by the election of new board members Jamie Montague and Coleen O'Connell (see
SWEEP Board Update
in this e-newsletter), the board will take lessons learned from our summit experiences and create a strategic plan for 2017 and beyond. We hope that you will help to "seed the pot" by attending the April 9 summit, renewing your membership (if you haven't already), and adding your voice to our ongoing conversations. Please
visit our website
to learn more about SWEEP and find the online forms for summit registration and membership renewal. Please encourage your colleagues to join SWEEP so we can build our network for the exciting days to come!
Ali Thomas and Jenna Guarino
Co-Chairs of SWEEP
Climate Summit Promotes Resilient Schools
An educational summit hosted by Vermont SWEEP
Deadline to Register is April 1 so act now!
As people everywhere strive to understand the challenges we face with climate change, educators in Vermont are coming together to explore ways to promote "climate resilience" in our schools. On
Saturday, April 9
, Vermont SWEEP will host
Cultivating Climate Resilience: An educational summit for empowerment and action
from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at
Montpelier High School
in central Vermont. Designed for the K-12 grades and all disciplines, this event will convene teachers, environmental educators, representatives of state and local agencies, and others interested in climate change education to share best practices and launch new initiatives.
The summit's goal is to foster actions that improve society's resilience as we experience rapid changes in climate. Workshops will feature institutional practices, student curricula, educator professional development, and school-community partnerships. Vermont state climatologist,
Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux (who is also the chair of UVM's Geography Department), will give the keynote speech, and
Michael Caduto, well-known environmental educator and author, will lead a workshop based on his latest book,
Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Super-Charged Science Projects for Kids. Four specially-chosen climate resilient schools from around the state will share their stories as part of a panel discussion.
Montpelier High School was chosen as the venue for this event because of its emphasis on climate resilience practices and curricula. Summit activities will use a "zero waste" approach that emphasizes the use of durable materials, local and organic foods, recycling, and composting.
Registrations are due by Friday, April 1 (or April 6 if spots are still available). Students and SWEEP members receive a discount. To register and for more information, click here. Or contact Bethany Powers, Summit Coordinator.
SWEEP Welcomes New Board Members
At a recent SWEEP event, two new board members were elected,
(pictured right) and
. Read on to learn more about our new additions and please join us in welcoming Coleen and Jamie to the board.
recently moved to the Cobb Hill cohousing community in Hartland, Vermont from Belfast, Maine where she has resided for twenty five years. Coleen is the Director/Faculty of the Ecological Teaching and Learning MS Program for educators at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Her professional and personal passion has been to explore ecological literacy and sustainability in the context of our personal lifestyle and educational choices She is on the Board of the Expedition Education Institute at Marlboro College in Marlboro, VT. She has been active in the Maine Environmental Education Association and has served on the New England Board as a rep from Maine. She was Maine's Environmental Educator of the Year in 2013. Coleen's love of travel has taken her internationally with students living in and studying the Ecovillage movement. She harbors a fantasy to start a Forest Preschool and Kindergarten at Cobb Hill and hopes that she can finally complete one whole skein of wool hand spun from Cobb Hill Icelandic sheep. She can be reached at
and looks forward to getting to know people in SWEEP and serving once again on the New England Board representing Vermont.
is a native of New Hampshire and has traveled the world looking for a place that resonates as home. In fall 2015, she moved back to New England with her husband and daughter and is thrilled to be living in Huntington and working for Audubon Vermont. Jamie joined the Vermont SWEEP board this spring and is excited to think big and help the environmental education community in Vermont thrive! After studying Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester and Natural Resource Management at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Iceland, she worked as a naturalist in the Adirondacks and coordinated Citizen Science and Education programs in Washington state. Jamie thrives on the challenge of inspiring others to be stewards of the environment and gets particularly excited about maple syrup and fall colors! In her free time you will find her running, hiking, and biking with family, knitting Icelandic sweaters, and baking her way through old-fashioned cook books.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Offers Hunter Education Classes
Are you or someone you know interested in expanding their participation in the outdoors to include hunting? Take a hunter education class today! Hunter education classes have been scheduled for spring - but are filling up fast! Take your class before turkey season starts on May 1st. Many class styles are available to suit your learning needs and schedule. Complete online homework or book work before class and take a one-day in-person class, or take a class over a few days. Be on the lookout for more classes being listed as summer approaches. Our
class listing website
is continually updated. To check out seminars such as in-depth workshops on deer hunting, deer processing, bear hunting, and more, check our
Let's Go Fishing: Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife's
Let's Go Fishing
program will be present at several fun-filled fishing related events this spring!
On Saturday, April 23rd there will be an
Introduction to Bass Fishing
clinic at the Kehoe Conservation Camp in Castleton. Participants will learn all they need to know about targeting bass with artificial lures. This clinic is a step up from the traditional LGF Clinics, and is perfect for someone looking to improve and enhance their fishing skills.
Saturday, June 11th is the statewide
free fishing day
, and there will be a large family oriented fishing festival at the Grand Isle Fish Culture station.
All Let's Go Fishing clinics and events are free and for all ages young and old. Interested in one of these programs or in having a Let's Go Fishing Clinic conducted in your town? Email
for more information!
Check Out Hildene's Series on Reading the Natural Landscape
The final two parts of
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home
's four-part series "The Battenkill Valley: Reading the Natural Landscape," will take place Saturday, April 2 and Saturday, April 16 from 10-11 am. This series brings to life the 700-million-year evolution of the valley's "not so terra firma." The featured speaker on the 2nd is forester Alan Calfee speaking on forests and on the 16th will be Hildene's horticulturist Andrea Luchini discussing soils. Admission is $5, members free.
for information or call 802-367-7960.
Green Mountain Conservation Camp Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Green Mountain Conservation Camp
(GMCC) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Our camps are located in two locations throughout the State: Kehoe (located in Castleton on Lake Bomoseen) and Buck Lake (located in Woodbury on Buck Lake). Our program focuses on connecting youth ages 12-16 with the outdoors through activities such as hunter education, fishing, canoeing, aquatic ecology and much more.
A new dining hall is being built at Buck Lake for the upcoming camp season. The construction is scheduled to be completed before the campers arrive. That means that the 2016 Buck Lake campers will be the first to enjoy this incredibly new, yet rustic facility in the woods. If your child/grandchild/niece/nephew/neighbor is interested in exploring the natural world with kids their own age please feel free to have them register to attend one of our one week overnight Basic Week sessions.
Or if you and your family are looking to volunteer your time to help open camps before the official camp season begins we have a "Work Weekend" scheduled at each site (Kehoe = May 14th & 15th) and (Buck Lake = May 28th & 29th). Please contact
for more information.
For more information about camper registration as well as general camp info please follow this link.
Take a Bite out of Food Waste: Join in an Earth Day Discussion on Wasted Food!
The Opportunity-wasted food reduction, recovery, and composting! Join us as we discuss some simple steps that all of us can undertake to reduce wasted food. Learn from others and share your ideas. We'll present some tips on reducing wasted food, options for food recovery, and compost basics. We'll share ideas on what households, schools, and businesses around Bennington County and Vermont are doing to take a bite out of food waste.
The Challenge - 40 percent of the food in this country is wasted. From restaurants to residents we toss out a lot of food. The average American family throws out around a quarter of their food purchases, amounting to about $1,600 each year in wasted food! Meanwhile 13% of all Vermont households are food insecure, meaning that they lack access to enough food to fully meet basic needs. Taking a bite out of wasted food will help families save money, while benefiting communities and the environment. Reducing food waste helps to eliminate pollution through the entire food supply chain-reducing air and water pollution, conserving resources, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and can help to reallocate resources to feed hungry people.
WHEN: Thursday, April 21, from 7-8:30 pm
WHERE: One World Conservation Center
413 US Rte 7S
Bennington, VT 05201
Topics to be discussed:
- Food Scrap Management Overview for Bennington Region & Vermont's Universal Recycling Law (Act 148)
- Our Goals
- Preliminary plans
- How to stay informed and involved
Wasted Food Reduction
- Food waste reduction tips for households, schools, and businesses
- Regional opportunities for food recovery and donation
Food Scrap Composting
What is composting?
Backyard vs. larger operations-what's the difference? Technologies used?
How to successfully include food scraps into backyard composting
For more information contact Athena Lee Bradley, Northeast Recycling Council at 254-3636 or
Sponsored by the Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance, the One World Conservation Center, and the Northeast Recycling Council (with partial funding from USDA's Utilities Program).
Celebrate With Us: Earth Day Open House and Green Up Day at One World Conservation Center
Earth Day Open House:
Friday, April 22, from 10 am - 2 pm in Bennington, VT
Green Up Day at OWCC:
- Kids activities
- Guest speaker
- Door prizes
- Beauty in Nature videos
May 7. Green Up Day promotes the stewardship of our state's natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people in Green Up Day and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment. -Green Up Day Mission
- Hidden Prizes
- Clean up the Reserve
- Clean up around Center
- Indoor Projects
- Something for every level
Four Winds Nature Institute's 10th Birthday!
With programs in more than 150 communities in Vermont and neighboring states,
Four Winds Nature Institute
is looking forward to blowing out 10 candles this June as we celebrate our tenth anniversary. We're planning the outdoor festivities now, so stay tuned to our
page for information and plan to join the party!
Four Winds Early Childhood Professional Learning Communities
This summer and fall,
will be facilitating several regional early childhood professional learning communities (PLCs) focusing on children's nature play and the learning and growth it fosters. PLC participants gain new facilitation skills to support play-based outdoor exploration, an enhanced understanding of the philosophy behind authentic nature play, and effective language to communicate the benefits for children to families as well as their larger community. The first of these PLCs begins in May, in partnership with the Montessori Children's School in Hanover. More information is available on the
Four Winds website
And, if you are interested in the research and news around outdoor play and learning, be sure to follow
VT Kids Play and Learn Outdoors
on Facebook, a space for sharing current research, ideas and wonderful photos of children in nature.
Nearby Nature: Community-based Natural Science
What can we learn about the history of Vermont from a mastodon in Mount Holly and a whale in Charlotte? What kind of weather might we expect for our summer picnic at Silver Lake? In what ways are squirrels and the Green Mountain Forest connected? Check it out: analyzing and interpreting data from fossils, representing data in tables or graphical displays to describe the weather, developing simple models of how animals disperse seeds. There are so many ways to engage students in the practices, ideas and cross-cutting concepts of the
Next Generation Science Standards
As part of a three-year project funded by the Canaday Family Charitable Trust, Four Winds has created a new digital publication,
, with place-and inquiry-based science lessons framed around natural phenomena that can be part of comprehensive NGSS-aligned instructional units. In addition, this project supports classroom teachers around Vermont working with Four Winds and local content specialists to develop exciting, meaningful, integrated science units that connect students to their community. Many of these units are posted on the
Four Winds website
, with many more of these helpful resources yet to come.
Four Winds Staff Updates
Four Winds's Associate Director Rob Anderegg is retiring, well almost, this summer. After ten years of managing Four Winds's business and accounting systems, organizing teaching materials for scores of schools, leading the Nearby Nature e-publication initiative, and supporting the organization's overall mission, Rob is looking forward to spending as much time as he'd like outside exploring nature in his own backyard. He'll continue to manage our teaching materials this year and advise Jen Brown as she learns the ropes as business manager. May the wind be always at your back, Rob!
6th Annual Vermont Wildlife Festival at the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
is presenting it's 6th
Annual Vermont Wildlife Festival
from 10:00 - 4:00 on September 18th. This year the event will be held at the Mount Snow Resort and will be presented in conjunction with the resort and the Deerfield Valley Chamber of Commerce. We are very excited to have a larger venue and about 20 organizations already lined up to present programs, exhibits, hikes and activities.
For the first time we will be welcoming the
Adirondack Wildlife Refuge
and their live fox, coyote and wolf program! The variety of live animal exhibits and displays from all walks of outdoor life have been very well received in the past and topics range from wildlife rehabilitation to wilderness survival to birding to hunting and fishing.
With more space to fill this year, we are opening up an invitation to participate to a wider field. If you or an organization you know are interested in supporting the enjoyment and understanding of our beautiful state's natural resources please contact Michael Clough at the museum to sign up or to learn more! Contact via email at:
or by phone: (802) 464-0048.
Resilient Vermont Conference Save-the-Date
Mark your calendars
May 20-21, 2016
to join the
Resilience Vermont Network
(with Norwich University, Institute for Sustainable Communities, and community resilience organizations) at Norwich University in Northfield, VT for the
Resilient Vermont Conference
Vermonters continue to face climate-related challenges like powerful storms and warming temperatures, all while navigating shifting economies and new policies. We must act now to protect our treasured people and places. This interactive event will bring together community leaders, municipal officials, organizations and agencies working to strengthen Vermont's resilience to climate change and other challenges.
Click here to learn more