VT Education and Environment Network




The Network

The VT Education and Environment Network is a coalition of dozens of organizations and individuals promoting environmental education in Vermont. Our mission is to foster a network of individuals and organizations working together to promote high quality outdoor, environmental and educational experiences. 

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  • 27 May 2020 1:08 PM | Anonymous


    The Springing of Stay-At-Home Education

    By: Nicole Conte

    Two months ago, we received the difficult news that Vermont schools would remain closed for in-person instruction for the rest of the school year to slow the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Many people have worked tirelessly to implement Vermont Agency of Education’s Continuity of Learning Plan and provide for the well-being of children during remote schooling. Amidst these challenging times, and inconceivable losses, spring has fully sprung and beckons even the most screen-addicted teenager outside to feel potential for growth and renewal. 

    Yearning for vibrant connections, I asked several Vermont Education and Environment Network board members to share an experience with stay-at-home education for this blog post. Chris Runcie of Four Winds Nature Institute replied quickly with her story of daily online interaction with a grandchild in another state. Her dedication to staying connected and supporting her family with childcare from a distance is inspiring.

    We miss seeing our kids and grandchildren so very much. However, we've been happy to receive daily Skype calls from our 8-yr-old grandson. We've been reading through the Narnia series over Skype. We've found ways to do some science projects. We send a list ahead of simple household items he'll need, and then we gather the same materials here. We've seen how many drops of water fit onto a penny, floated paperclips, studied a green lacewing he caught, put celery into food coloring, and, with his mother's help, made an egg go into a milk bottle - no hands! Of course we ache to be with him and our kids, but it really helps to see and talk with them and we're so grateful for the technology that makes it possible.

    At the other extreme of physical connection to a child is Rebecca Roy. She has been working full-time remotely for the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation while supporting her daughter, Alice, age eight, with at-home school. Rebecca sent this story of exciting natural science learning close to home.

    Alice has many Google meetup classes, and I try to balance outside learning time with her required online time. Tuesdays are her biggest day with over 3.5 hours of online classes. Getting her outside “after school” on those days is very important to me, and we regularly hike to a special remote place, Silver Lake in Leicester in the Green Mountain National Forest. It feels like an adventure to pack up snacks, water bottles, rubber boots, and nets and then hike the 0.6 miles to our destination. We have been watching the ephemeral wildflowers emerging on each trip with new ones blooming every time. We recently went on a fun outing looking for newts and talked about their three unique amphibious life stages, and their habitat needs. Alice caught five newts, and we watched them in our bucket for a little while before letting them go again. We will both always remember that adventure. Learning outside feels even more important than ever right now. 

          

    Photos of "Newt Catching" at Silver Lake

    Beth Roy of Vital Communities, another board member working full-time remotely while supporting her two elementary-aged children stuck in stay-at-home school, is also helping Upper Valley schools to feed many students and families. Beth’s family keeps extra busy with raising chicks of various breeds, gardening and doing simple experiments, such as growing a seedling in a box with a small window to understand more about phototropism. In an excerpt taken from a blog post Beth wrote for Vital Communities, she describes beautifully what I have been feeling during these times, too, in my spot of the Upper Valley, while supporting a high school student at home.

    Over these past few weeks I have experienced waves of anxiety and sadness, and at the same time such gratitude. I can’t imagine going through this crisis in any other part of the world. The Upper Valley is an amazing place filled with amazing people and places. I have the ability to walk out my door and witness first-hand the coming of spring as the buds emerge and the mud slowly dries. 

    Beth further wrote in her blog about their successful experience creating a Family Quest, similar to a treasure hunt, that included special places near their house using cleverly-written clues. Click on this link to learn more about how she created the Family Quest.

    Recently my teenage daughter, Faye, made it through the stress of three at-home Advanced Placement exams. Like many of us, she has had more screen-time than ever before for socializing, studying with others and attending classes. Today her AP Environmental Science class participated in an interesting real-life Webinar called Zoom A Scientist. With the lovely warmer spring weather, Faye and I are both more motivated to be outside for some of our Zoom meetings, exercising, physical-distance visits with local friends and walks with our puppy. The puppy, although a difficult and exhausting learner, has reminded us of the joy of being outside, fully in the moment, and connecting to everything, from below-ground up! 

    Thank you to our board members who were willing to share their stories from home so that we might relate more to our community. All of us from the Vermont Education and Environment Network sincerely hope you are able to feel connected with others and the out-of-doors, if only from a front step, window or screen. Stay safe and well.

  • 7 Apr 2020 4:00 PM | Anonymous


    Earth Day's 50th Anniversary

    Written by VEEN Board Member: Rebecca Roy, Vermont State Parks

    Fifty years ago, environmental activism on college campuses changed important environmental laws herein the United States, and later around the world. Today our Earth needs us more than ever. We face two emergencies today, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the destruction of Earth’s climate. We were unprepared for the novel coronavirus pandemic, but we have time to prepare and make changes for our climate. Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary is a great place to start.

    Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, this powerful book started the modern environmentalist movement by helping people think about our environment in new ways. In 1969 the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire due to the massive amount of pollutants from industry. The huge Santa Barbara oil spill also occurred in 1969, spilling 80-100,000 barrels of crude oil in the water and all over beaches in southern California. These terrible and very visual devastating events sparked US Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin to call for teach-ins about the environment on college campuses across the United States.

    The 1970’s were a time of strong civil engagement, and college campuses were a hot bed of activity. Over 20 million Americans took to the streets in protest and participated in teach-ins on the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. This was before social media so you can imagine the passion driving this environmental movement.

    The success of the first Earth Day was seen quickly as the Environmental Protection Agency was formed by December 1970. Over the next few years, the modern environmental movement was strengthened by passage of landmark environmental laws: The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Many other countries around the world followed suit and adopted similar laws.

    Photo from Vermont Youth Climate March - 2019

    Today more than 195 countries and more than 1 billion people around the world participate in Earth Day events. The 50th anniversary is your chance to participate in multiple events taking place all over the world virtually. Or plan your own Earth Day event anytime in 2020. Earth Day is the perfect time for people to rise together to make a difference for our climate just as we did in 1970.

    Click here to search and join virtual Earth Day events around the world and add your own events: https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/


    Photo from Vermont Youth Climate March - 2019

  • 21 Mar 2020 5:53 PM | Anonymous

    My name is Caroline Blake. I was recently hired as the Administrative Coordinator for the Vermont Education and Environment Network (The Network). Over the course of the next year I will assist with increasing organizational capacity and support professional development opportunities across Vermont for educators and folks working in the environmental sector. 

    I want to share a little bit about myself and my path as an environmental educator. I have lived in various places both in the continental U.S. and overseas, but have called Vermont home on and off for the past 10 years. My career in environmental education (EE) informally began in 2013 when I volunteered my senior year at ECHO in Burlington, VT. After graduating from UVM in 2013 with a BA in Biology and Chemistry, I accepted a full-time, seasonal EE at an outdoor science school in Southern California. Between 2013 and 2017, I held multiple seasonal EE positions across the U.S. In 2017, I returned to school to complete a Master of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where my thesis work focused on environmental knowledge and personal environmental education teaching efficacy of pre-service teachers in Wisconsin. Upon graduation, I was offered a position back in Vermont, at my alma mater, where my career in EE officially began.  

    Currently, I am a full-time employee with the Lake Champlain Sea Grant program, which is also affiliated with UVM Extension, the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as NOAA (yes, it is a mouthful). I serve as their Watershed and Lake Education Program Assistant, where I support K-12 teachers and students as well as undergraduate interns who serve as Watershed Educators for our school programming.  

     I became affiliated with The Network, previously known as Vermont SWEEP, back in 2017 when I was invited by a previous supervisor to attend one of their gatherings before heading off to Wisconsin for graduate school. Upon my return to Vermont, I was eager to once again be connected with this wonderful organization. I became an independent contractor for them back in February. As the Administrative Coordinator, I will help The Network as they transition and grow this professional network and affiliated offerings including our new website and rebranding efforts. Additionally, my position will aid our volunteer Board Members regarding communication, member recruitment, event planning, and board member meetings and retreats. I look forward to working with you all and that our paths may cross in the not too distant future. Please do not hesitate to reach out at thenetworkvt@gmail.com.


  • 10 Jan 2020 10:10 AM | Anonymous

    SWEEP is Now VEEN!

    The board is very excited to announce a new name for our network. Vermont State Wide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP), will now be known as the Vermont Education & Environment Network (VEEN). Along with our name change we are also launching a new website with new member resources like, the ability for members to post events and job announcements and a clear way to stay up to date with events happening within the network. 

    With the turning of the calendars to a new year also means it is time to renew your membership, all online and accessible through our new website. Please renew today so you have access to our new resources and connect with your colleagues.

    Happy New Year,

    The VEEN Board


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Affiliate Links

North American Association of Environmental Education NAAEE

New England Environmental Association NEEA NEEEA 

 

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