environmental education

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Great pictures from our visit to the Portola Branch of the San Francsico Public Library this summer!  Mr. Science came with Trucker the Red-footed Tortoise, Julie the Burmese Python, and many more.  The kids loved it, and so did the librarians!

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What better way to celebrate Halloween than to learn about some of the creepiest critters in North America? Bats, sharks, snakes and spiders scare a lot of people, but in reality they’re typically rather harmless and, as the saying goes, more afraid of you than you are of them.

I did this project to wrap up my natural science minor in college and to combine my two biggest passions: illustration and environmental education. I put a lot of research and planning into my choice of species, the information on the cards, and of course the illustrations themselves! It was both a challenge and a joy to work on these, and I’m excited to do more educational natural illustrations in the future.

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It’s National Bird Day!  

And what better to share on National Bird Day than one of our favorite bird-friendly places - Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in Idaho?

A part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, the Snake River Birds of Prey hosts some of the largest concentrations of raptors in the U.S. The area’s 485,000 acres host some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons that come each spring to mate and raise their young. As a complete, stable ecosystem, the NCA is a valuable place for research and education.

Check out BLM Idaho’s website for great information about the area and educational materials for learners of all ages:http://on.doi.gov/1hWoXCg

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It’s mushroom season in Cascadia! Cohort 14 from our Graduate M.Ed. program learned how to identify our fungal friends this week at the Learning Center with mycologist Lee Whitford, who is leading a sold-out Field Excursion tomorrow at Baker Lake. Are you finding mushrooms where you live, and if so, what kinds?

Dear Tumblrs,

I received the following in a Change.org email this afternoon:

The students in Mr. Wells’ fourth grade class in Brookline, Massachusetts love The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. They love the story, and they especially love the book’s message that if we don’t start prioritizing the environment, the consequences will be disastrous.

So they were super excited to learn that Universal Studios made The Lorax into a blockbuster animated movie (it comes out in March on Dr. Seuss’ birthday). But when the kids went to the movie’s website, they were crestfallen to see it had no environmental education at all. Nothing about pollution, nothing about trees, just information on how to buy tickets.

“The website is more about making money than helping the planet, and that’s exactly what the book says not to do,” says Georgia, who is 10.

If this doesn’t deserve a signal boost, I don’t know what does. Please please sign!

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#WomeninSTEM Wednesday: Utah Girl Scouts Learn about Preserving the Past, for the Future

The BLM Utah and BLM Nevada, Project Archaeology, and local partners recently hosted a cultural heritage workshop in Tooele, Utah, for over 80 Girl Scouts. The workshop included hands-on materials and activities as well as presentations from the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation.

Project Archaeology is a national stewardship educational program dedicated to teaching scientific and historical inquiry, cultural understanding, and the importance of protecting our nation’s rich cultural resources. Project Archaeology was founded by the Utah Interagency Task Force on Cultural Resources in 1990; the Task Force recognized that education was the best long-term solution for protecting cultural resources on public lands. The program is now jointly sponsored by BLM and Montana State University, and is delivered to educators through a national network of state and regional programs.  

Project Archaeology is celebrating the program’s 25th Anniversary throughout 2015.  Check out their series of events on Facebook.   

Landscape photos by Bob Wick, BLM; Girl Scout photos courtesy BLM Utah 

Environmental Education Cartoon

If environmentalism was a cake (yes this is the direction today’s post is going) the icing would be legal policy and the sponge, people power. And the decoration, the notorious cherry on top of our cake, is this sort of thing:

Well I hope that cleared up any questions on Global Warming. Now let’s more onto environmental stewardship:

And some festive cheer for good measure:

I like Rustle the Leaf & Co. They’re honest and ironic and strangely positive at the same time. I wish more great cartoonists would focus on environmental awareness.  If you’re a great cartoonist, please do send me an eco one. I’ll publish it in The Hummingbird.

Contact me on jessica@nektarinanonprofit.com

For those of you who don’t know, I currently work at a outdoor education center in the Catskills. I wish to share a golden moment with you: 

A 4th grade boy, during pond ecology, caught a huge dragonfly larva.

He excitedly asked me what it was, and I had barely gotten and explanation out when… he brought it up close to his face, grinned huge and excitedly screamed “I’M GOING TO CALL HIM HARRY. YER A WIZARD, HARRY!!!”

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On this day in 1993, Congress established the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area - to protect a unique environment that supports one of the world’s most dense concentrations of nesting birds of prey.   The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 officially added the name of conservationist Morley Nelson to the NCA, in honor of Nelson’s work on behalf of birds of prey and their habitats.

The BLM manages the area, a part of the National Conservation Lands, to preserve its remarkable wildlife habitat while providing for other compatible uses of the land. The area’s 485,000 acres host some 800 pairs of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons that come each spring to mate and raise young.  

As a complete, stable ecosystem where predators and prey occur in extraordinary numbers, the NCA is a valuable place for research and education. The youth pictured here - Idaho 3rd through 8th grade students - recently participated in a day camp where they learned about raptor characteristics and became raptors for a day. The kids also visited the World Center for Birds of Prey and Dedication Point. 

Learn more about the Morley Nelson NCA: on.doi.gov/1zNqQgP and Dedication Point: on.doi.gov/1zNqUgh

-Krista Berumen

You may have seen this before at the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI), in print, or on a previous Iowa Archaeology Month poster. Drawn in the early 19th century by Wacochachi, a member of the Meskwaki tribe, this art was originally lost for over 100 years. It was rediscovered at SHSI in 1973 during a routine inventory of books, tucked into the pages of a volume belonging to Colonel Davenport.

At the Office of the State Archaeologist, we love using this beautiful drawing for education, outreach, and awareness! If you look close, you might even spot some animals that are no longer living in Iowa.

While there is plenty we can do as adults, the future of our planet lies in the hands and hearts of our children and grandchildren…so why not start inspiring, informing, educating and enabling them to ‘do their bit’ now? - The Woodward family

Share if you agree!

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Na Kahumoku girls performed a “rain dance” the ti leaf rain capes were handmade.  The boys did the drumming.  So why all the emphasis on Hawaiian culture?  Its not that interesting to people outside Hawaii, right?  Any environmental program should look to its indigenous cultures to learn about being nature connected.  Those cultures existed before the industrial revolution and the incursion of high technology.  

Racism, Recycling, and the Environmental Movement

At a glance, the first two topics in the title don’t seem like some things would be related. Bear with me; because the connection is actually very relevant to the crossroads at which the US environmental movement stands today. 

As many of you may know, the US:

  • makes up 5% of the world’s population
  • is responsible for 29% of green house gas emissions
  • incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners

There’s this idea in our society that things are disposable; stuff we no longer want can just be “thrown away.” Resources (such as oil) can be burned away without thought. But what is ‘away’? A landfill? A recycling plant? While that stuff is no longer in our hands, 'away’ is actually a place that negatively affects a lot of people. 

The incineration of recyclables releases many toxic chemicals into the air that can spread for miles, harming everyone who inhales them. The people who live near incinerators are predominantly poor and nonwhite. Landfill workers have extremely dangerous jobs, and again, are predominantly poor and nonwhite. 

This way of thinking spread into our treatment of people. We throw people away all the time. We discount people (predominantly of color) as lesser and use legal structures aimed at throwing them away. But instead of a landfill, we use prison cells in the country. 

We look at recycling to be, in many ways, superior to just throwing things in the trash. We’re giving this piece of plastic or aluminum a second chance to be remade into something new for somebody else to use -and that makes us feel good about ourselves. That thing won’t rot in some landfill to someday be paved over to create a new strip mall. Unnamed plastic bottle has a destiny, and it’s better than being buried under another dollar store!

But a real, live person with a name, family, story, and soul? Their destiny is no better than a prison cell. They often get no chance at being 'recycled’. Prison sentences are long, and the conviction and prison stay prevents that person from ever reintegrating into society to lead a healthful, productive life. 

So how can those of us in the environmental movement truly be inclusive when what we fight for is the second chances of plastic bottles and not human beings? A huge topic is how to make this movement a diverse and inclusive one. People are being paid lots of money to develop branding for eco-mindedness to attract a growing and evermore diverse population. However we cannot expect a person of color to give a thing a second chance when their son was thrown away in prison and can never expect that same kind of opportunity.

Environmentalism can never be inclusive until we make change the emphasis from the “what” we’re fighting for to the “who,” and understand that it’s about changing more than behavior. The systemic inequalities are what contribute to environmental degradation. Until we address them, we’re no better than any other white-dominated, elitist movement that will fail to achieve any real change.



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BLM Alaska employee KJ Mushovic sent us this #NatureSelfie from BLM Campbell Creek Science Center in Anchorage, an outdoor science education center for learners of all ages.  

The center promotes an appreciation and stewardship of the natural environment through outdoor classes in forests, meadows, creeks, and a rich abundance of plants and wildlife. A good place to celebrate #EarthDay2015 tomorrow!

Flower and landscape photos by BLMer Bob Wick

Unregulated landfill the day after burning, Yaoundé Cameroon. (Carey, 2014)

Waste management is a huge challenge to the public health, quality of life, and environment in Cameroon. Plastic, paper, metal, and food waste is all thrown together and set on fire when the pile grows too large.

  • Uncontrolled burning of plastic is associated with a whole myriad of harmful pollutants, which can affect everything from mental function to the immune and reproductive systems. (x)

  • Contaminants can also seep into ground water, rivers, and lakes, thus contaminating the drinking water for people and wildlife. (x)

  • Malaria, cholera, diarrhea, and hookworm have all been associated with improper waste disposal. (x)

  • A 2009 report on waste management estimated that only about 40-50% of waste in heavily populated African cities is reportedly being collected. (x)

  • Even in cases like Limbe where there is waste collection, about ¾ of the city’s waste management budget is spent on transportation alone. Leaving a small portion of the budget dedicated to waste treatment and recycling. (x)

  • There is little to no education or public awareness programs on waste management and recycling. Policy makers must incorporate environmental education into their programs. People need to be aware of the importance of waste management, for it to outweigh the convenience of littering. (x)

Related Reading:

How a small African recycling project tackles a mountainous rubbish problem (x)

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Check Out What Happened Last Week at the BLM: Nov. 17-21, 2014

Announcements, Events, and News

On Friday, Nov 21, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Michael Bennet to announce a landmark settlement agreement that will help protect the Roan Plateau near Rifle, Colorado, while also encouraging natural gas development.  The settlement helps protect wildlife and supports opportunities for outdoor recreation and energy development, all of which play an important role in Colorado’s economy. “After many years of discord and disagreement, this settlement represents a path forward for the people of Colorado, for the oil and gas industry, and for those that seek to protect critical wildlife habitat,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “A broad coalition of local, state, industry and conservation leaders came together to make this possible.“ Read the press release.

At the National Association for Interpretation’s 2014 National Workshop in Denver, two BLM employees were honored with the BLM’s annual Excellence in Interpretation or Education Award for their exceptional work to enhance public appreciation of our public lands. The BLM’s 2014 Excellence in Interpretation or Education Award winners are: Roy Simpson, Education Specialist at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Oregon, for developing creative, standards-linked youth education programs and teacher workshops, and for his work on the Oregon Coast Aquatic and Marine Science Partnership Ocean Literacy Project; and Kierson Crume, Archaeologist in the Cody Field Office in Wyoming, for developing the “Take it Outside! Living Landscapes” project, a hands-on, experiential learning program that helps students discover relationships between ecosystem structure and past and present human activities. Read the press release.

Social Media Highlights

Across its social media accounts last week, the BLM continued its series on Areas of Critical Environmental Concern, designated to protect important historic, cultural and scenic values; fish, wildlife resources or other natural systems or processes; or to protect human life and safety from natural hazards.  From wintery landscapes to wildflower displays to volcanic formations, the BLM’s My Public Lands Instagram reached 35,000 followers last week with its stunning and unique ACEC photos.

Imagine a job that takes you outside to remote areas of Alaska for extended hours in sub-zero temperatures. Last week on social media, the BLM featured employee Alyssa Sterrett, biologist for the Realty and Environmental Section of BLM Alaska, Branch of Pipeline Monitoring. Alyssa is responsible for oversight of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which spans 800 miles across the North Slope of Alaska to Valdez on some of the most beautiful and unforgiving terrain in the world – much of it on public land. Read the full story, A Winter Assignment along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, on BLM Alaska’s website.

BLM Internal News Features

The BLM Taos Field Office in New Mexico recently hosted a visit to Taos and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument by 30 members of the Comanche Nation Council of Elders. The council visited several different locations within the monument, where their Comanche ancestors and other tribes associated with the 17th -19th centuries Plains Horse Culture left indelible evidence of their presence. Read the story published externally on doi.gov/employees.

Follow www.blm.gov/socialmedia