A Letter from the Co-Chair
As June arrives in the Green Mountain State, Vermont SWEEP is wrapping up two main projects for the year. Through a partnership with
Vermont Afterschool, Inc.
, SWEEP members fostered professional development opportunities for afterschool and day camp educators. A grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency and support from the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA) allowed us to organize and host the
Cultivating Climate Resilience Summit
at Montpelier High School this spring. An article on each project can be found in this e-newsletter. We will build on the momentum generated by each of these projects as SWEEP strives to provide opportunities for its members to collaborate, reach new audiences, and enhance their skills in the field of environmental literacy.
Every year, one of the six New England states hosts the annual NEEEA conference. The next NEEEA conference, called
Mindful Action Towards Progress
, will take place in Litchfield, Connecticut on November 4, 5, and 6, 2016. SWEEP was slated to coordinate the following NEEEA conference in 2017. But the NEEEA board has adopted a new conference model for 2017: they will partner with other nonprofit organizations in the northeastern U.S. to develop a larger conference that appeals to a broader audience. Their goal is to facilitate collaboration across related sectors to realize greater impact. This gives SWEEP the opportunity to design a 2017 event that focuses on our statewide members and selected partners. Our board will incubate ideas for this event this summer and announce our plans by fall. Stay tuned!
Yours in environmental literacy,
Co-Chair of Vermont SWEEP
Call for Workshops! 2016 Annual New England Environmental Education Alliance Conference
New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA), and Connecticut Outdoor and Environmental Education Association (COEEA) are partnered to present the 2016 Annual New England Regional Conference in Litchfield, CT!
Now is the Time: Mindful Action Toward Progress
This year we will coalesce the visions of environmental education with the ongoing need to provide leadership for communities that affect change in our treatment of resources, education and communication of environmental issues and impacts. What motivates us to move to action is a dynamic, multidisciplinary system.
We are seeking proposals
from the environmental community that communicate this motivation and connection through four strands:
Proposals are due by 4:00 p.m. on June 20, 2016
- Mindful Action - Pathways from knowledge to attitudes to behavior are complex and require re-solutions. What works to motivate people emotionally and scientifically to engage in mindful action and personal choices within communities and systems?
- Environmental Education Impacts - What new or expanded programs and projects consider a multidisciplinary approach to increase awareness and understanding of climate impacts, phenology and resource use. How does this lead to mindful action that creates meaningful change in environmental outcomes?
- Fueling the Passion - What connects us to our professional and personal missions? How can we best share ways to expand this connection with others and effectively craft our EE message through traditional and emerging methods of communication?
- Generational Engagement - What projects and leadership development that focus on social learning and multigenerational approaches create and sustain commitment and more robust stewardship projects?
. All applicants will be notified regarding acceptance by email during the first week of July.
Click here to submit your proposal
. Please direct all questions to
. Visit our websites for more information:
SWEEP Hosts Cultivating Climate Resilience Summit
On Saturday, April 9th, 2016, 82 folks gathered for
Cultivating Climate Resilience
, a teacher professional development summit hosted by VT SWEEP and coordinated by Bethany Powers. Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, VT State Climatologist, gave a keynote address entitled "Feed Forward: Climate and climate change education in the context of improving resiliency." During this day-long event, over 20 presenters and their students delivered a series of workshops focused on curricula, facilities, and school-community partnerships. A panel discussion featured four schools that had developed and were implementing climate resilience models.
" was a primary focus of the summit. SWEEP used 100% recycled paper in all office printing, encouraged attendees to download the Summit Program Guide prior to arrival, and chose a local caterer, Good Taste Catering, to provide local and organic foods. A representative from the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District helped direct leftover food to the school's compost collection bins.
Montpelier High School was chosen as the site of the summit because of its emphasis on climate resilience. Tom Sabo, Montpelier science teacher and district science coordinator, led a workshop on classroom-food solutions that included a visit to the greenhouses on campus. In addition, 14 table exhibitors displayed throughout the hallways of the school, creating additional opportunities for discussion among attendees.
Summit attendees were energized and inspired at the end of the day. One commented, "
Thanks for a great day - I made more valuable connections and learning in that one day than the multi-day Green Schools Conference I attended in Pittsburgh last week
." Another said, "
One of my favorite things was looking around the auditorium and seeing so many new and different faces. Plenty of SWEEP regulars, of course, but lots of people from different schools and different sectors. Nice to grow the organization's reach.
" SWEEP plans to build on this summit in the months and years to come, so stay tuned!
An Update from SWEEP Board Member Erin DeVries
This year marks my 6th year at
Lake Champlain Sea Grant
and as the Watershed and Lake Education Coordinator for
UVM Watershed Alliance
. I have enjoyed and learned a lot from this position, the relationships that have developed and been nurtured and especially the educators and students; however, it is time to move on.
In late July, my family and I will be moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a big life transition - a new job for my husband, a new house for my family, and a new opportunity to explore my surroundings and find a job that fits my recent and past experiences as a aquatic ecologist, educator, and community-based ecological planner. This is all good news, albeit bittersweet; I have been in Vermont for a long time and will miss my mountains, streams and wetlands daily. I am looking forward to sailing the Great Lakes, camping on rocky shores, picking the best peaches and cherries west of Pennsylvania, and being mom to my incredible kids - plus I plan to bring the Vermont vibe and all the progressive ideas that have started here to Ann Arbor and the greater Detroit area.
I am working with Kristine Stepenuck, Lake Champlain Sea Grant Program Leader on a transition plan that will involve she and Ashley Eaton (WA Program Assistant) coordinating with partners to continue the strong and important relationships I have developed. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me or Kris. My last day of work with be July 1, but I'll be in the state until July 18 or so.
visit our website
for important news and updates on our education programs as we begin to implement new initiatives proposed during an extensive strategic planning process. Also, check out the
Lake Champlain Sea Grant
. We'll like you if you like us.
All the best to each and every one of you as you continue the important and necessary work of keeping our Vermont waters clean, healthy and enjoyable for all. You are doing a fantastic job!
Four Winds Mini-Grants
What do Cambridge Elementary School (Cambridge, VT), Sacred Heart School (Bennington, VT), Underhill ID School (Underhill, VT), High Plain Elementary School (Andover, MA), and Brewster-Pierce Memorial School (Huntington, VT) all have in common?
They are all recipients of the most recent round of Schoolyard Habitat Improvement grants from the
Four Winds Nature Institute
Each year, Four Winds awards a number of these grants, up to $500, to schools participating in Four Winds' programs, to enhance the outdoor learning of children around the region. The grants are often used to make outdoor classrooms, nature trails, or pollinator gardens. The small grant can spark an outpouring of community engagement, leading to projects much bigger than $500. As an example, this year's Brewster-Pierce grant will go toward construction of an outdoor classroom valued at over $17,000.
Since 2007, Four Winds has awarded 37 of these grants. For more information on grants awarded, please visit the
Four Winds website
Northern Woodlands Conference: Join the Celebration!
Attention educators, writers, readers, and anyone else who loves the woods!
September 30 - October 2, 2016, the Hulbert Outdoor Center, Fairlee, VT
Enjoy a fun, informal weekend at the
Hulbert Outdoor Center
on Lake Morey with the Northern Woodlands crew. This year's celebration will include special workshops for writers, educators, and illustrators, as well as natural history talks on eagles, loons, and ice storms, a caterpillar lab, woods walks, and - back by popular demand - open mic night! Conversations around the fire, good meals, and comfortable cabins.
Our keynote speaker this year will be Richard Ober with plenary speakers Rick Bass, Todd Katzner, Jeffrey Lent, and Susan Morse. Sponsored by The Bailey Charitable Foundation and
The Trust for Public Land
, this event celebrates the natural history of our region and the interactions of people and place.
Weekend Schedule At-a-Glance
Complete Weekend Schedule
(with workshop descriptions)
Professional development credits will be available.
Event Announcement: Fishing Festival in Grand Isle
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department will be holding a free children's fishing festival on Saturday, June 11 from 9 am - 3 pm (registration closes at 2 pm) at the Ed Weed Fish Culture Station located at 14 Bell Hill Rd., Grand Isle, Vermont. Department staff and volunteers from the
Let's Go Fishing program
will be leading a wide array of educational stations including, casting, identification, knot tying and so much more. There will also be a trout pond where kids can try their luck at fishing. For more information please contact the hatchery at 802-362-3171.
Websterville Baptist School Wins 21st Vermont Envirothon Competition
WEBSTERVILLE- Tiny Websterville Baptist School won top honors at the 21st annual
Vermont Envirothon Competition
at the Common Ground Center on May 19. This team of five high school students bested 11 other teams from 8 large high schools from across Vermont. This natural science competition fielded college level exams in Forestry, Soils, Aquatic Ecology, and Wildlife. Students were also judged on their oral presentation on a project they completed related to invasive species, the theme of the 2016 Envirothon.
Websterville Baptist School students also won the Virginia Collins Team Spirit award, which recognizes their ability to work well together, for their teamwork and enthusiasm at the event. This award is named after their teacher and coach, Virginia Collins, who has been enthusiastic about her students' participation in Envirothon for 21 years.
This team of students will go on to compete in the North American Envirothon Competition at Kent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in late July. Winners at the North American event receive college scholarships.
For further information, please contact: Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, 802/522-0780 or
The Power of Water, The Power of Place Summer Institute
The Power of Water - The Power of Place: Exploring our histories, watersheds, and communities with students
A summer institute on July 6 - 8, 2016
Registration fee: $450 (limited $150 scholarships available)
Two graduate credits available from Castleton University: $300
This is an inquiry-based institute. As such we see all participants as historians and scientists investigating, sharing, and reflecting on new knowledge as part of a common journey. Each day has a new investigation that moves through the inquiry cycle from connecting -> asking questions -> investigating both scientific and historical evidence -> constructing new understandings -> sharing new ideas with others -> reflecting on the process.
At the end of each day we will be adding our new ideas to a collaborative GIS StoryMap. Layers on the map reveal the interweaving stories about civic, historical, and environmental locations on the Mill Brook Watershed.
On Friday we'll weave these layers together and create a Valley Quest that teaches students, their families, and community members about how watersheds work, how humans impact the river ecosystem, and how we can all work together to create more resilient communities.
For more information and to register,
. Scholarship inquiry:
||Some of the items from the Insects and Other Creepy Crawlies Kit.
News from the Southwest Corner: Nature Exploration Kits!
One World Conservation Center
in Bennington, Vermont may be a small organization, but we are trying to make a big impact in local environmental education. Thanks to funding from a private grant, we've developed six amazing
Nature Exploration Kits
for anyone to rent, explore, and learn. They were created with non-formal groups (homeschoolers, 4H, Scouts, etc.) in mind, but anyone can rent one out for a 3-week time period.
Kit topics include birds, insects, bats, trees, mammals, and reptiles and amphibians. Besides having a lot of awesome "stuff" (the type of things that make us nature educators salivate) like specimens, skeletons, neat posters, books, stuffed animals, games, etc., we include 8-10 activities that are adaptable to a wide range of ages, abilities, and group sizes.
They took a lot of work to put together, but now we're looking forward to getting the word out and seeing the community response.
for more information. If you are interested in doing a similar program and have questions, feel free to contact Jenica at
Seeking Community Engagement Case Studies
Vermont is well known for its community-level engagement, and we have a lot of stories and examples that might help other areas connect EE and community. The
North American Association for Environmental Education
are now in the process of developing another document for their
Guidelines for Excellence
series. This set of guidelines will, when completed, focus on how environmental educators can work successfully in communities to protect the environment and promote community well-being and sustainability. These guidelines will also strive to help environmental educators, and others, create more inclusive working environments that support social equity, effective partnerships, and coalition building.
SWEEP member Susan Clark is working as a writer for the project, and is looking for some great case studies to help make community engagement come alive. What's your story? Have you partnered with community members to find a solution to a local environmental problem? Invited brand new audiences in with your work? Creatively opened up new connections or built unlikely coalitions? Has your EE organization taken on the challenge of creating a more inclusive workplace? If you have a local story that you think might make a good case study, please contact Susan at
. For more information on the project or if you'd be interested in reviewing a draft when it's ready,
Summer Learning Opportunity for Teens
Great opportunity to learn more about natural resources management with Vermont experts! The
Natural Resources Management Academy
will take place July 8-10, 2016 at the Green Mountain Conservation Camp on Buck Lake in Woodbury. This program is open to teens just completing 8th grade to recently graduated seniors. Information and registration can be
Registration closes on June 8 - space is limited.
Phenology Calendar: A Look at the Season's Main Events
By Virginia Barlow, an excerpt from the
magazine Summer 2016 edition. (
Second Week of June
- Unlike most other birds, bitterns don't use their syrinx (voice box) to make the "thronk" noise that now emanates from wet places; they gulp in air and let it out as a loud belch.
- Pear thrips larvae drop to the ground and enter the soil.
- The beautifully colored rosy maple moth - pink, white, yellow - is on the wing. The larvae, called green-striped mapleworms, occasionally cause significant defoliation.
- Pink lady's slippers are blooming in dry woods.
Third Week of June
- The full moon on June 20 was called the Full Strawberry Moon by early Native Americans. June 20 is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.
- Fox kits begin to tag along on their parents' hunting trips.
- Look for yellow robber flies hanging around beehives, sometimes gobbling up pollen-laden bees as they come home from work.
- Showy lady's-slippers are blooming in fens and wooded swamps. They rarely self-pollinate and rely mostly on bees for pollination.
this summer's full calendar. Northern Woodlands publishes a bi-weekly educator's eNewsletter that contains a phenology calendar just like this one.
to sign up for this free resource.
SWAC: Satellites, Weather, and Climate Professional Development Opportunity
An innovative professional development opportunity of in-service for K-12 science and math teachers to deepen their content knowledge in the atmospheric and climate sciences, while acquiring geospatial skills that could be used in the classroom.
to learn more, or contact Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, UVM Professor and Vermont State Climatologist:
or (802) 656-2146.
Join VINS' Summer Festivities!
Two dynamic and unique events will highlight the
Vermont Institute of Natural Science
's summer season.
On July 23 and 24, we will celebrate our third annual Incredible Insect Festival, featuring a live caterpillar lab. Renowned expert Sam Jaffe will introduce visitors to a multitude of live caterpillars throughout the day. Insect enthusiasts will have the opportunity to observe and learn about moths and butterflies as well as caterpillars' emergence from the pupal stage.
The Caterpillar Lab
helps people discover the natural value of their own backyards, neighborhoods, and green spaces. In addition, VINS will feature musical guests sharing Vermont-made music and storytelling for children and their families. For more information,
visit our website
or call 802-359-5000.
Our second annual
en Plein Air Painting Festival
will take place on September 17 through 24. Come paint outdoors with us in celebration of the remarkable beauty and diversity of the Ottauquechee River and the Connecticut River watershed, the surrounding forests and vibrant communities, as well as the important message of conservation and diverse avian wildlife. For more information or to register,
An Update from the Birds of Vermont Museum
In 2013, the
Birds of Vermont Museum
in Huntington, VT suffered extensive damages to its front entrance-way and hiking trails due to a flash flood. The overflowing water eroded the stream banks on both sides of Sherman Hollow Road, removing much of the gravel from the entrance path, transporting one culvert a quarter-mile downstream, and completely dislodging another. Trees toppled over the water, roots were ripped from the steeply sloping bank. Trails in the forest were damaged by overwhelming erosion, and forest streams changed courses.
In deciding how best to recover, we chose not to replace the gravel path and reinstall insufficient culverts. Instead, we seized the opportunity to take the long-term view: how could we increase the Museum's resilience in the face of projected climate changes in Vermont? How could we make the Museum more welcoming and accessible? How could we both protect and enhance the stream-side habitat, reducing storm-water runoff and encouraging native fauna, especially birds and native pollinators. These are the questions that drove us to develop a four-phase Bridges to Birds project. This project's goals: making the Museum more accessible to all, indoors and out, and enabling better and broader bird conservation, environmental education, and appreciation of Vermont's natural communities.
Over the last three years we reached numerous project milestones. In 2014, we opened an accessible tree-house and began building pollinator gardens. In 2015, the stream-bed was repaired and additional pollinator and storm-water gardens were designed. This spring, one of the biggest and most obvious parts of this multi-year project was completed: the actual bridge itself. Over the summer and into 2017 we will continue to create our pollinator gardens, improve trail conditions, and install educational signage. We welcome everyone to the Museum this summer to celebrate! On July 30th, we will host an ice cream social from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. to mark these accomplishments and the people involved. All this could not have happened without numerous partnering organizations, the Museum's Board of Directors, and many individuals and foundations. For more on our Bridges to Birds project, a list of all who contributed, and pictures of the entire project please
see our website
and follow the links to