Talking with Green Teachers features discussions with environmental educators from around the globe. In each episode, we hear the human side of EE, while discussing some of the big questions facing this diverse branch of education.
Episode 19: Getting students out of their comfort zones
With Laura Frost and Scott Lenhart of Project Dragonfly, Ecoteach, Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program, and Boardman Glenwood Junior High /
You can push students beyond their comfort zones by taking them abroad to work in a rustic biological station tucked into dense rainforest. You can also do it at your nearby creek just by implementing an inquiry-based teaching method in an outdoor setting. Laura Frost and Scott Lenhart honed their craft at Miami University’s Project Dragonfly and they apply their innovative teaching method daily with their 8th-grade students. In this layered discussion, Laura and Scott share their insights about making distant places locally relevant, pushing the limits of comfort, learning local, and engaging with community members.
Laura Frost and Scott Lenhart have been teaching 8th-grade science together at Boardman Glenwood Junior High School in Boardman, Ohio since 2013. They both earned Master’s degrees from Miami University’s Project Dragonfly as part of the Global Field Program. Laura and Scott have also completed the Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist program through Ohio State University. In 2017, they began taking select students on excursions to Costa Rica with EcoTeach. They are currently developing and implementing an outdoor-based curriculum called Project STREAM in collaboration with the Environmental Collaborative of Ohio. Their goal is to connect students to their local environment and professionals in the STEM field.
Episode 18: Inclusion and accessibility in the outdoors
With Karen Lai of the City of Vancouver and inclusionaccessibility.com /
Does inclusion mean “everyone belongs”? Why do so many organizations aim for a segmented rather than blended population? What role does personal vulnerability play in this discussion? Inclusion and Accessibility Consultant Karen Lai joined us to talk about how to navigate the messiness and complexity of accommodating many-layered people in outdoor settings. There’s no one-size-fits all approach, but with open communication, outside-the-box thinking, and adherence to the principle that “it takes two to tango,” people can usually figure out a path forward. (Oh, and we talked about kayaking with orcas, too.)
Along with being the Accessibility Planner for the City of Vancouver, Karen Lai is an Inclusion and Accessibility Consultant through which she facilitates inclusion training for companies, educators, organizations, and other special interest groups. Karen completed her undergraduate degree in outdoor recreation and her master’s in human kinetics with a focus in examining the social theories of inclusion. Karen lives with cerebral palsy and loves to get out to play in the outdoors. Learn more at https://www.inclusionaccessibility.com/.
Episode 17: Stone Soup to prepare youths for a sustainable world
With Marianne Larned of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute /
What makes the challenges of today especially daunting for young people? How can we foster in youths a sense of hope that is also grounded in reality? Why are meaningful green jobs going unfilled? What role do schools play in preparing students for a sustainable future? We discussed these questions in depth with Marianne Larned of the Stone Soup Leadership Institute, while also exploring some of the 100 stories in her latest book Stone Soup for a Sustainable World: Life-changing Stories of Young Heroes.
Marianne Larned is the Stone Soup Leadership Institute’s Founding Director and the best-selling author of two books titled Stone Soup for a Sustainable World, the latest being Life-changing Stories of Young Heroes, published in June 2021. From the Institute’s website, “Marianne is a sustainability champion, workforce development strategist, Design Thinking pragmatist and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) pioneer. She has assisted Fortune 500 companies, Chambers of Commerce, education, government, civic and community leaders to develop public-private partnerships to improve economic development, education, and health care.”
Episode 16: Using an app to connect to outdoor spaces
With Bridget Booth and Leah Higgins of the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) and the MiPINES app /
How can we connect people to outdoor spaces in their state or province? An app might not be the first thing that comes to mind, as so many are looking for ways to decrease screen time and increase green time. But maybe a bit of screen time on a carefully constructed app like MiPINES can ultimately get more people outdoors. How do these technologies impact experiential environmental educators like park naturalists? What are some of the keys to leveraging digital tools for outdoor learning? We discussed these topics and more… and got off on a tangent about the super-picky Kirtland’s Warblers in northern Michigan.
Bridget Booth is an 8th-grade science teacher at Haslett Middle School and a certified environmental educator in Michigan. She got her start in education at Woldumar Nature Center in Lansing and has been taking students outdoors to learn ever since. She is currently the president of the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE), whose mission is to support, inspire, and empower a diverse network of individuals with a passion for environmental and outdoor learning. Bridget lives with her husband and two sons in East Lansing and will spend her summer reading, playing in the northern woods, and swimming in the Great Lakes.
Leah Higgins is beginning a career in environmental education after graduating Summa C*m Laude from Eastern Michigan University in 2019. After graduation, she worked as a volunteer intern for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and is now serving as the Education Programs Developer at the DNR RAM Center via Huron Pines AmeriCorps. Leah recognizes place-based education as a valuable component of any environmental ethic, noting that the environment is not a place “out there” but is instead the place where we all live.
Episode 15: A climate solutions game (and Woolly Mammoths!)
With Samuel Levac-Levey from Solutions the Game and Work on Climate /
We know we need to spend time in the “solutions space” when teaching about climate change, but how do we go about this? Can we leverage the popularity of gaming? Samuel Levac-Levey thinks so, so he’s created the board game Solutions, inspired by Project Drawdown. In this wide-ranging discussion, we discuss the advent of the game as well as the awesomeness of human potential, disinformation about renewable technologies like electric vehicles, extending gameplay into real-world action, the 3.5% rule, and, yes, Woolly Mammoths!
Episode 14: Filling gaps in climate ed. according to teens
With Gabriel Gitter-Dentz, Kevin Zhou, and Adam Rudt of Hunter College High School and the Bridging the Carbon Gap podcast /
How can students make up for lost time when they haven’t learned much about climate change at school? When is the right time to introduce climate education? How should it be handled? Can gaming be an effective educational tool? These are all top-of-mind considerations for Hunter College High School seniors Gabriel Gitter-Dentz, Kevin Zhou, and Adam Rudt. This trio of teens joined us to discuss their experiences with climate education (or lack thereof), how and when to introduce climate ed., and how their podcast, Bridging the Carbon Gap, came to be. We also somehow got onto talking about a new role that George Clooney could play in a movie about the foundational climate law in the United States.
Guests (in their own words):
My name is Gabriel Gitter-Dentz. I am a senior at Hunter College High School and live in Manhattan. My favorite subject is Chemistry. Aside from creating the Bridging the Carbon Gap podcast, I play basketball for my school and for fun, and I am an assistant teacher at my synagogue's religious school.
I'm Kevin Zhou, and I'm currently a senior at Hunter College High School. I enjoy studying Math and Physics. Outside of academics, I spend time on my PS4 or playing basketball.
I’m Adam Rudt. I am a senior at Hunter College High School and my favorite subjects are Biology and French. In my free time I enjoy birdwatching, playing basketball, and making podcasts.