Posted by: csdailyblog | March 23, 2012

Conserve Staff Out and About

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You may have noticed a few weeks ago that the blog lagged for about a week. That was because many of us were out and about at professional conferences and events,  including the National Association of Independent Schools Annual Conference in Seattle; the Green Schools National Conference in Denver; the American Camp Association Mid States Conference in Chicago; a statewide Education for Sustainability task force meeting at the Myrick Hickson EcoPark in La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Canoecopia (“world’s largest paddlesport exhibition”) in Madison, Wisconsin.

Phil DeLong, Director of Admissions and Residential Life, writes about the ACA Conference he attended:

Director of Outdoor Programs and Residential Life Cathy Palmer and I, along with UWSP/Conserve School Grad Fellows Eve Smallwood and Mandy Lundmark, attended this annual 3-day gathering of about 800 camp and education professionals from around the region.  With a theme of “Building Communities Through Diversity,”  the conference included keynotes by Nina Roberts, Associate Professor at San Francisco State University and Director of the Pacific Leadership Institute (“Multiculturalism and Quality of Life”), and Michael Brandwein, a leading trainer in the fields of camp, recreation, and education (“Delivering What Young People Need Most”).  I enjoyed education sessions about safety practices, understanding youth GLBT issues, using social media for marketing, and consultative communication.

Head of School Stefan Anderson, Grad Fellows Leanna Jackan and Greg Handley, and I attended the Green Schools Conference, where we ran into Conserve alumni parents Jeff Ledermann, Minnesota Department of Education Environmental and Outdoor Education Coordinator and father of Katie (CS3), and Steve Brandl, the Organic Valley Cooperative’s Regional Sales Manager and father of Joe (also CS3).

Stefan, who served on the Planning Board for the Green Schools Conference, attended a pre-conference working session that focused on developing a Green Schools rating system similar to the university STARS system from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. I gave a presentation at the conference on educating students by engaging them in service learning and “real work, ” which I presented in partnership with Joel Tolman, community outreach coordinator at Common Ground High School and Urban Farm in New Haven, Connecticut. Common Ground, like Conserve, offers students a high-interest, hands-on, academically challenging program focused on stewardship and sustainability.

As the years go by, Conserve School is developing more and more connections with other environmental stewardship organizations across the country. Conserve school students are benefiting from this growing network of Conserve School friends, and environmentally-focused education organizations are benefiting from Conserve School’s experience integrating environmental studies across the high school curriculum. For example, as a follow-up to the Green Schools conference, Jeff Ledermann visited Conserve School to make a presentation to students on green energy, and Common Ground High School teachers contacted Conserve School to learn more about our e-portfolio system, since they hope to start a similar program next fall.

We’ve also connected with environmental educators from the University of Minnesota-Extension who were awarded a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an inquiry-based, citizen science curriculum for young people. Our science teachers have been reviewing this draft curriculum, piloting parts of it in science classes, and giving the curriculum designers ongoing feedback. In turn, the U of M staff members have been providing us with support and guidance as we employ citizen science projects like monarch research into our program. Conserve staff members took part in a conference call with the University of Minnesota staff this morning, exchanging observations and insights that will help us continue to improve our work on an ongoing basis.

– Mary Anna


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