MAEE Spring 2009
Minnesota Association for Environmental Education (MAEE)
Member Newsletter April 2010
IN THIS ISSUE Nurturing strong roots for Environmental Education
Front Page Feature Professionals in the field of environmental
education have been working for decades to
Nurturing strong roots for EE
advance, support and develop EE programming,
Notes From the Board resources and networks across Minnesota. This
community has expanded over time to include
President’s Perspective 2 professionals who work with a wide audience in a
New Board members 3 diversity of settings. Many who utilize and support
MAEE financials 3
EE in their everyday (or are hoping to) gathered
ELM grant winners 5
recently in Grand Rapids to share resources,
Member Recognition experiences and research.
The pulse at this
Mara Koenig 6 most recent MAEE
Minneapolis Parks and Rec 6 conference was
electric. At a state and national level,
Field Scope changes are afoot. Both longtime
Change your media strategy 7 practitioners and new arrivals to the field
Businesses go green 8 engaged in vibrant discussion about what
Creating a strong board 9 the future of EE in our state could and
Landowners and producers 10 should look like. In sessions and in casual
conversation, conference participants
Minnesota and Beyond were inspired to build skills, strengthen
partnerships and step up as vocal
EE on a national stage 11 supporters of EE.
Environmental Literacy Plan 11
Upcoming conferences 11 This season’s newsletter reports on the
Photo: J. Johansen status of MAEE as an organization and
provides an outline for the organization’s
priorities for 2010. It also highlights
Conference participant speaks
up during a discussion about
resources that can help our community
the past, present and future of build strong roots starting with the nuts
EE in Minnesota. and bolts of businesses, non-profit
organizations and community agencies.
As the seasons change, we encourage you to take time to reflect on both
your needs and your talents. What do you need to enhance your work?
What talents or expertise can you or your organization share to further
enhance the quality of EE in Minnesota? We welcome your thoughts on
ways that we can work together to build and maintain environmentally
and economically healthy communities. Let’s keep the discussion going.
MAEE Winter 2010
NOTES FROM THE BOARD
2009-2010 MAEE Board of Directors President’s Perspective
Britt Carlson, MAEE Board President
As the 2010 MAEE board president I would like to say “Happy
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
New Year!” Late winter is the time to celebrate MAEE’s recent
accomplishments and share the board’s priorities for 2010.
Stefan Theimer We had a busy year in 2009! The conference committee
email@example.com organized a successful two-day teacher workshop and
conference at Jeffers Pond Elementary School in June. The
SECRETARY communications committee worked to improve MAEE
Anna Dutke communications including new email and quarterly newsletter
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
formats. The Environmental Learning in Minnesota (ELM) grant
program committee awarded fifteen grants in the second round of
TREASURER the program. The executive committee convened a working
Erin Zoellick group to discuss creating an environmental literacy plan in
Americorps Member Minnesota. And finally, the entire board worked hard to maintain
firstname.lastname@example.org a well-run organization by filling all twelve seats on the board,
transitioning to new board roles and hiring Adriane Morabito for
Sarah Erickson fifteen hours per week of support. When reflecting about our work
Great Lakes Aquarium in 2009, our board feels proud of our accomplishments and
email@example.com hopes that the EE community benefited from our efforts.
WEBSITE, MPCA TASK FORCE The year ahead is sure to be just as full. At our board retreat in
Amy Markle January, we set goals for 2010. We will focus our work on the
Wood Lake Nature Center following priorities:
• Organize quality conferences in 2010 and 2011
Kristi Pursell • Launch a new website with dynamic, quality content
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation
firstname.lastname@example.org • Participate in the development of Minnesota’s
EVENTS environmental literacy plan
University of Minnesota Extension
• Increase marketing and fundraising efforts with an eye on
email@example.com hiring an executive director
AT LARGE The board functions best when we know that our work is of value
Jen Johansen to the membership. Please contact me or any other board
South St. Paul Schools member with your ideas, feedback or to get involved. This is an
firstname.lastname@example.org exciting time to be a part of MAEE.
Boulder Lake Environmental Learning
I also want to thank Brinkley Prescott for her time and leadership
Center as a board member. Brinkley served on the board for six full
email@example.com years and was president for three. She was a part of bringing the
national EE conference to Minnesota, the start of the ELM grant
Ben Bishop program, and many other milestones for MAEE. Her commitment
Graduate student to the organization and her fellow board members is inspiring.
firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you for your service and friendship Brinkley.
University of Minnesota Extension
NOTES FROM THE BOARD MAEE Winter 2010
Welcome new MAEE board members!
Last fall’s election expanded the MAEE board to its full capacity of twelve members. The four new board
members bring an exciting range of skills, talents, interests and experiences to the ranks of MAEE
Nicole Pokorney is an experienced educator who is passionate about using service learning in
environmental education. She works as an Extension Educator in 4-H youth development and runs an after
school program called Project Get Outdoors. Nicole is our new events champion. She resides in
Kristi Pursell’s myriad experiences in environmental education include teaching in formal and non-formal
settings and interpretive guiding. She currently works for Minneapolis Parks and Recreation. As MAEE’s
new membership champion Kristi is interested in uniting and strengthening the EE community. She lives in
Erin Zoellick can be found most days at Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, MN where she is serving through
AmeriCorps as an environmental educator. Erin’s expertise in adult environmental education will prove
invaluable as MAEE seeks to support EE for all audiences throughout the state. She also has experience
as an interpretive naturalist and aquarium educator. Erin joins the board as the new MAEE treasurer.
Ben Bishop is enthusiastic about supporting excellence in the practice of environmental education. A
veteran of many professional conferences and development workshops within the field of EE, Ben will be
coordinating MAEE’s successful conference scholarship program. He is currently a graduate student in
environmental education in Duluth, MN where he also works as a natural resource educator for Boulder
Lake Environmental Learning Center.
2009 Actual and 2010 Projected MAEE Income and Expenses
John Geissler, Board Member and MAEE Treasurer
Here is a snapshot of the
2009 fiscal year and
projected 2010 fiscal
year for the Minnesota
(MAEE). Our operating
budget has increased
substantially due to the
addition of the ELM
Grant Fund. The
segment illustrated below
in 2009 and 2010 are
largely tied to the funding
granted to MAEE to
distribute through the
ELM Grant Fund.
We hope that you find
that the income and
expenses of MAEE for 2009 and 2010 support that mission. If you have any questions, comments, or
suggestions based on the information provided, please contact me or another board member.
NOTES FROM THE BOARD MAEE Winter 2010
NOTES FROM THE BOARD MAEE Winter 2010
Environmental Learning Minnesota (ELM) grant program awards $15,000 for
K-12 Environmental Education
MAEE provided funding for thirteen schools or organizations to supply “real world” environmental learning
education for students throughout the state. More than 3,100 students will be reached through these grant-
More than 60 applicants vied for grants of up to $1,500 to be used in the 2009-2010 academic year.
Applications were evaluated on ten criteria, including learning objectives, assessment, and contribution of
the program or project to an existing curriculum.
ELM Grants were awarded to the following schools or organizations:
• Weston Community Action Head Start (Marshall) will collaborate with Prairie Ecology Bus Center to bring
an “Animal Architects” preschool program to children in five local parks.
• Roosevelt School (Detroit Lakes) third grade students will document climactic and habitat changes within
Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge using a GPS system and digital cameras.
• Jenny Lind Elementary School (Minneapolis) third and fourth grade classes will explore the
interconnectedness of local cultural history and the natural resources of the Mississippi River ecosystem
at North Mississippi Regional Park. Students will investigate resources, seek to identify human impact
over time and determine good environmental practices.
• Jeffers Pond Elementary School (Prior Lake) students will develop a native prairie area on the school
grounds to be used as an interdisciplinary, living classroom.
• Groveland Park Elementary School (St. Paul) kindergarten students will learn tree biology at Dodge
Nature Center; third graders will visit a waste processing plant to understand social and natural systems
involved in resource recovery.
• Alexandria District 206 (Alexandria) will take students to a community waste-to-energy incinerator as part
of its Green Initiative for 2009-2010. The program will help connect students to the impact of their trash,
supporting district goals for waste and energy reduction awareness.
• Duluth Head Start/Duluth Public Schools (Duluth) students from18 classrooms will study “Wind and Water”
or “Ponds, Puddles and Polliwogs” at Hartley Nature Center.
• Garlough Environmental Magnet School (West St. Paul) will take approximately 60 fourth grade students
to Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro.
• Riverway Learning Community (Minnesota City) will develop “Seed to Seed,” a project that involves
students, instructors, and families in the cycle of sustainable food production. Individual classrooms will
focus on one crop, to be grown, harvested, and replanted at Riverway.
• North Shore Community School (Duluth) will install a worm composting (vermicomposting) system as a
service-learning project for students, an institutional waste-reduction method, and an eventual source of
income to fund further environmental curriculum development.
• Crosswinds Arts and Science School (Woodbury) will take 40-60 sixth through tenth grade students to the
May 2010 Intersession Forestry and Gardening classes at the University of Minnesota Landscape
Arboretum. Students will then use basic instrumentation devices to observe and record plant germination
experiments in the school’s garden.
Continued on page 7
INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBER PROFILE MAEE Winter 2010
Visitor Services Specialist
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
BS -Park Management
M.Ed - Environmental Education
Visitor Services Specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
How did you find out about MAEE?
Word of mouth
What sparked your interest in environmental education?
I have always enjoyed teaching. I have taught swimming, Sunday school, and worked at a day-care in the
summer. In 7th grade I took a class called Outdoor Education and discovered you could work outside. I kept
pursuing this through college. Then discovered EE, where it granted me a career to incorporate natural
resources management with teaching.
Words of wisdom for our membership...
You and I will come and go, but nature is forever. Instill nature into the lives of younger generations (and
Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board
Succession Planning: Growing the Next Generation
By MaryLynn Pulscher, Environmental Education Coordinator, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
When you were 14 or 15 years old did you get to climb a tree with a forester? Test the water quality in your
local creek? Or work with a landscape architect to create a nature play area? Well, this past summer 20
Minneapolis teenagers got to do just that by working as members of the Mississippi River Green Team.
The Mississippi River Green Team is a collaborative effort of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board,
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, Minneapolis Employment and Training Program,
National Park Service, and the Community Design Center of Minnesota. Together these agencies combine
their resources to hire and supervise youth ages 14 and 15 employed to focus on conservation work while
gaining environmental knowledge and learning about environmental careers.
Working on the Mississippi River Green Team is a first job for most participants. Youth learn basic job skills
such as, time management, working as a team, and conflict resolution. One day of each four-day
workweek is dedicated to education and green career exposure. Teens learn from, and work alongside
professional foresters, natural resource managers, water quality technicians and many others. From these
professionals teens learn about watersheds and water quality, how to use keys to identify plants, and proper
tool use. They also learn new skills like plant propagation and how to effectively remove invasive plants,
such as buckthorn. Teens also gain valuable insight into potential future careers by talking with each
Continued on page 8
FIELD SCOPE MAEE Winter 2010
ELM Grant awards (Continued from page 5)
• Ramsey International Fine Arts Community School (Minneapolis) will take approximately 100 seventh
grade students on a 4-day field trip to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. The trip is a
culminating event for a full year of life science curriculum.
• Happy Days Preschool (Ely) will facilitate five hands-on environmental programs for children in the Happy
Days’ preschool program, Ely Head Start, and Ely kindergarten and first grade classes. Facilitated
throughout the school year by a local environmental educator, two of the programs will be indoor
programs, two will take place outside in local natural environments where the children can interact and
hike in the wilderness, and one will involve a visit to the North American Bear Center.
The ELM Grant program is a collaboration between the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s
Environmental Education Advisory Board (EEAB) and the Minnesota Association for Environmental
Education (MAEE), a non-profit professional association whose mission is to support and advance
environmental education in Minnesota.
The News Business is Changing and so should your Media Strategy
Claire Meyerhoff, Nonprofit Marketing Guide Media Maven
Once upon a time, in the Olden Days we now refer to as “the ’90’s,” if you
wanted to get the word out about your good cause, you “did some press.” You
slaved over a press release, made copies on something called “paper” and sent
them to news editors by way of the U.S. Mail. You followed up with a phone call,
spoke to an editor, and hopefully, the Newspaper/TV Station/Radio Station
would send a reporter to cover your story. That was Grandma’s strategy for
getting media attention when Grandpa manned the city desk phones at “The
Olden Days News and Record.” Well, I have a NewsFlash for you, my friends in
the nonprofit world . . . that’s old news.
Today, a newspaper’s staff is shrinking daily as advertising revenues dry up. Check your local paper’s
bylines and you’ll see more stories from the Associated Press and other news services. TV stations and
radio stations are feeling it, too. To top it off, a news organization’s shrunken staff also has to feed a beast
called “the website.”
What does that mean for you, and how you go about getting media attention for your fine organization?
It means that you can get media coverage, if you know what’s going in your local media and how to pitch
your story in a real-world way. The #1 Rule is: always know what’s in it for them. What’s in it for the harried
assignment editor at WBIG-TV? What’s in it for the busy beat reporter at The Cutback Chronicle?
Find out “what’s in it for them.” Then give it to them. Savvy nonprofit communicators tap the trends and
feed the beast, when the beast needs to be fed.
You should be your own media mogul. At the same time, mainstream media can still play an important role
in getting the word out. But the rules of the game are different now.
This article was reprinted with permission from Kivi’s Nonprofit Communication Blog. Visit
www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com for more useful tips, resources, and webinars.
FIELD SCOPE MAEE Winter 2010
How can businesses take steps to reduce their environmental impact?
Leah Gruhn and Carol Andrews, Barr Engineering - Duluth Office
Barr Engineering provides engineering, environmental, and information
technology services to clients across the nation and around the world.
With nearly 400 engineers, scientists and technical support staff
throughout the Mid-west, Barr works with numerous industries and with all
levels of government. Looking to walk the talk, Barr employees organized
a Green Team to provide a forum and support for proposing and
implementing more sustainable business practices. Efforts have been
made on several fronts including waste management and the reduction of energy consumption.
WASTE MANAGEMENT: As a member of Minnesota Waste Wise, Barr employees are committed to
reducing their waste output in a variety of ways. We recycle paper, cardboard and bottles and also collect
compostable food waste (lots of coffee grounds!). Our office has phased out nearly all use of disposable
plates and utensils, using real plates and silverware instead.
ENERGY: Barr offices throughout Minnesota encourage the use of carpooling and alternative
transportation. In the Duluth office, employees can opt for a free bus pass as an alternative to free parking
in the downtown ramp. We have also made progress getting staff to set their computers to a frequent
“sleep” mode and to close their window blinds on sunny days to reduce the need for cooling.
The Green Team has worked with corporate administration to make some changes too. For example, we
suggested that instead of mailing a copy of the Barr calendar to each employee at home, that copies be
made available at the offices. This reduced the carbon impact of mailing and saved the company over
There is still more that can be done to reduce our environmental impact. A future goal is to make building
improvements to better regulate heating and cooling. This is a challenge given that our company rents office
space. The building owner would need to make those improvements.
Our advice to other businesses looking to become more sustainable: Just do it! If one person starts a Green
Team, chances are at least a few others will be happy to help. Rather than waiting for official approval to
form a group we called ourselves the “all volunteer, unofficial green team.” Then we just needed to request
approval for very specific changes we wanted to make. Good Luck!
Organizational member continued from page 6
What do the teens think of this program?
“The two most important experiences I had were communicating with people and leadership skills. I have
also learned new things about the environment. What I liked about the program was how we worked
together and finished our job. It makes me feel satisfied.” - Pashie, teen participant
“Coming into the Mississippi River Green Team, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was under the
impression that it was going to be like any other job, a chore that is given to you because no one else wants
to do it. Now after two summers of being with the Mississippi River Green Team, I realized that this was
more of an opportunity than anything else.” - Mai See, teen participant
The long-term goal for the Mississippi River Green Team is to entice a new generation to pursue
environmental careers. Youth that have worked in the program for two years are now ready for the next
step in their budding green careers. If your agency will be hiring a teenager this summer, and you think a
youth from the Mississippi River Green Team might fit the bill, please contact me.
For more information on the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board or the Mississippi River Green Team
please contact MaryLynn Pulscher, Environmental Education Coordinator at
email@example.com or 612-313-7784.
FIELD SCOPE MAEE Winter 2010
How to Create Your Best Board of Directors
Thea Sheldon, True Voice Coaching
The people you invite to serve on your board of directors are vital to the health
of your organization. Selecting board members thoughtfully pays off when it is
time to sit down around the table and get to the work of your organization.
The following are some of the qualities to consider when you are getting ready
to select new board members. These tips may help you refresh your existing
The legal responsibilities of your nonprofit board of directors are straightforward. When selecting new
members, it makes sense to review these basics. The board is responsible for:
• Ensuring that your organization fulfills its mission
• Guaranteeing compliance with bylaws and other rules
• Reviewing the financial performance of the Executive Director and the organization
• Hiring and evaluating the Executive Director
Beyond the basics, it would be beneficial and a timesaver to look for these qualities in your potential board
• Commitment—the primary qualification is deep and passionate commitment to the mission of your
organization. This is the beginning point to lay the groundwork for an effective board member
• Willingness— to show up on time and prepared for board meetings; willingness to recruit new
board members and volunteers
• Diversity—look for a wide range of expertise in potential board members; also diversity in
networking contacts, skills, and innate strengths
• Team Player— the individual who plays well with others will add strength to your board; this does
not mean everyone agrees on every detail; those who value differences and still keep focused on
moving the mission and big picture forward are a real asset to your organization
• Integrity, Wisdom, Reliability— obvious qualities and worth noting; you don’t want dishonesty, fly-
by-the-seat-of-your-pants, or haphazard on your watch
• Advocate— board members increase their value when they willingly spread the good word and
promote focus on your organization; their enthusiasm stimulates genuine interest in the community
• Creative— in today’s changing non-profit world, you need creative thinking and responsiveness on
your team; analytical skills definitely have their place, too; and creative trumps analytical.
• Financial acumen— it’s an asset when board members already know how to read and interpret
financial statements, profit and loss data and balance sheets; if your board is weak in this area,
perhaps it’s time for some board training
It is essential that you initially take the time needed to communicate clearly what is expected from your
board members. Have a personal, one-on-one conversation to build trust, and welcome and orient your
new board members. Provide a job description and discuss the person’s strengths. Some executive
directors negotiate a “contract” with each board member to hold accountability for their role in on the board.
9 Continued on page 10
FIELD SCOPE MAEE Winter 2010
Board of Directors (continued from page 9)
Communication, clear expectations and responsibilities, recognized strengths, regularly scheduled board
meetings, board training or team-building opportunities, and an efficient member selection process, sets you
and your board up for success. Confidence and effectiveness are enhanced when you know what you can
count on from your board members. Overall, your organization stands to gain momentum and get the job
done with a carefully selected team.
Thea Sheldon is a Prime of Life Coach and the founder of “True Voice Coaching for Midlife Women”. Thea
became a solo-entrepreneur, offering consulting and training services in companies undergoing serious
downsizing and transition. She used her expertise to help others navigate life/work transitions without losing
themselves in the process.
The Common Thread Between Landowners, Producers
and Environmental Educators
Valerie Prax, MAEE Board Member
I am the daughter of a man determined to convince people that agriculture
and a healthy environment are synonymous. I remember early morning
walks through fields, pastures, wetlands and woods as we checked on
everything from the lambs to the cannery peas to the pheasants. This
personal history gives me unique perspective in sharing the connections
between modern agriculture and environmental education. Land producers
are sometimes painted as solely interested in making money off the land.
It is true that family farms have supported many generations. But it is more
than a paycheck; it is a way of life, a connection between people and the
Environmental education has supporters in the agriculture, logging, and landowner community. Land based
industry has evolved. A buzz word in the agriculture community is the same as in EE – sustainability.
Farmers, loggers and others are developing best practices for sustainability while still making a living wage
from their industry. Improving water quality, preventing soil erosion, integrated natural resource
management, producing an abundant supply of safe and healthy food, producing timber for our needs,
lightening our footprint on the earth and other principles unite these groups.
Landowners and producers are just as concerned about legislation that impacts their work and goals as
environmental educators. Many proposed laws and lawsuits are aimed at closing down production of
timber, crops and livestock to restore and protect our beautiful lands and waters. Is that the best way? Or
should we be working together to ensure responsible, sustainable production?
The GreenPrint for Minnesota has good ideas and well-defined indicators of success that we can utilize.
The section of the GreenPrint for Minnesota for landowners and producers outlines ideas and indicators
that are good starting point for joint efforts. I challenge all educators to read this section, and connect with
landowners and producers this year. How much more can we accomplish if we focus on working together
toward common goals? Agriculture and natural resources will both benefit and will be stronger.
Valerie Prax is a member of the MAEE Board and a retired University of Minnesota Extension educator
specializing in working with agricultural communities and landowners.
MINNESOTA & BEYOND MAEE Winter 2010
Environmental Education in the President’s Budget
By Amy Kay Kerber, MAEE Legislative Liaison
In February, the U.S. Department of Education announced its
draft budget. This budget included funding priorities for
environmental education. Among other initiatives, it proposes
a new Effective Teaching and Learning for Well-Rounded
Education Program funded at $265 million, to support
innovative education strategies by states and high-need
school districts, with an emphasis on environmental literacy.
The January emails you sent to Secretary Duncan’s office
regarding inclusion of No Child Left Inside (NCLI), had an
impact. The surge of ten-of-thousands of emails about NCLI
caused U.S. Department of Education staff to include components of NCLI in the draft Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (main education bill). The inclusion of funding for environmental literacy is the
first tangible item we are seeing as a result of our efforts. Thank you for being a great grassroots support
system. Your efforts are needed!
The following are two additional federal budget items of note; 1.) The Department of the Interior proposes a
$45.4 million investment in initiatives to foster the next generation of conservation leaders, this is $9 million
more in funding that last year! 2.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes $6.4 million for
environmental education grants. This is a decrease from last year’s funding, but work is being done to get
the level back up to $14 million.
Steps taken to move forward on Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP)
For those of you who have been following No Child Left Inside (NCLI) legislation, you may recall that in
order for states to be eligible for environmental education funding there needs to be a state Environmental
Literacy Plan (ELP) in place. Many NAAEE state affiliates have begun rallying the troops to begin crafting
their state plan. In December 2009 MAEE convened a meeting of MAEE members and a representative
from the Minnesota Department of Education to discuss the process for creating an ELP in Minnesota. At
the request of the MAEE board, board member Stefan Theimer is facilitating this effort. Contact him to get
involved in this important effort at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark your calendars for upcoming conferences and scholarship opportunities
Scholarships will be available to MAEE members to attend the following conferences. Watch for deadlines
and application information in upcoming E-updates.
North American Association for Environmental Education (NAEE)
September 29th – October 2nd, 2010 – Building Connections~Bridging Gaps
Buffalo-Niagara, New York
Mid-West Environmental Education Conference (MEEC)
April 2011 - Naturally Healthy
Volunteers are needed to help plan and host the 2011 MEEC. If you are interested in helping please contact
Nicole Pokorney at email@example.com. We hope to see you there!
MAEE Winter 2010
Minnesota Association for
3815 American Blvd East
Bloomington, MN 55425-1600
Minnesota Association for Environmental Education
Supporting and advancing environmental education throughout the state.
Encourage Others to Join!
If you received this newsletter in the mail, you are already a member of
MAEE. Your support is greatly appreciated!
Our current membership is 294. We know there are more who are part of our
community. Please let them know about MAEE and encourage them to join
by downloading the printable PDF Membership Application at
Thank you for your support!
This newsletter is printed on recycled-content paper.