Educators Tackle Climate Change

Letter from the Executive Director 

Jim Hansen

“Climate change is here – and worse than we thought” according to Dr. James Hansen, NASA scientist in a recent Washington Post Opinion piece. In late July, NASA revealed that Greenland’s surface ice is melting over a larger area than they have ever seen. On average in the summer about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melts. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. NASA used the word “extraordinary” because such pronounced melting across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889.

While the arctic continues to see unprecedented melt this summer, and the Midwest sees unprecedented drought, we’ve become increasingly focused on how to communicate climate change impacts to the people we work with, mainly educators and youth.

We’ve used the summer to plan our youth programming and public outreach for the next year. Our major highlight this month of course is our 7th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education for over 90 educators, made possible by support from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, General Mills Foundation and Aveda. We were honored to host Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education and Dr. John Abraham as keynote speakers; both of whom were able to address the basics of climate science and the challenges educators are facing with teaching the topic in the classroom.

Our fiscal year ends August 31. Thanks to a generous grant from the Pohlad Family Foundation, any new gift made by October 15th will be matched!

Climate Ride 2012 - Nicole RomFinally, I’m really proud to be biking with fellow Board member David Bryan in the California Climate Ride, September 9-13th. We’ve raised over $4,000 from friends and family to participate in this ride, with all funds benefiting the Will Steger Foundation. I was honored to receive a customized jersey from our staff, Board and other foundation friends which I will wear with pride! I’ll be blogging about the experience (300+ hilly miles) on our website so you can follow our journey.



Nicole Rom, Executive Director


Summer Institute 2012 - Educators
Educator breakout session at the 2012 Summer Institute

The 7th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education took place August 7 and 8 at the School of Environmental Studies in Apple Valley, MN and featured the second edition of the Minnesota’s Changing Climate curriculum. This Summer Institute focused on climate science basics and training on the hands-on activities from the Minnesota’s Changing Climate curriculum. Educators had the opportunity to hear from Dr. John Abraham, Dr. Eugenie Scott and Will Steger as well as a variety of excellent breakout speakers. Many thanks to our major food sponsors: Common Roots Catering, Valley Natural Foods, French Meadow Bakery and Café and Birchwood Cafe.

Following our Institute, our education team offered customized workshops for the St. Paul Public Schools science department and St. Catherine University’s National Center for STEM Elementary Education program. Ann Benson, Education Program Assistant, led a breakout session on the Minnesota’s Changing Climate program at the Minnesota Independent School Forum STEM Teacher Seminar. Educators found this curriculum very helpful and are excited to incorporate it into their teaching this school year!

Summer Institute 2012 - Kristen Poppleton and Eugenie Scott Summer Institute 2012 - Nicole Rom, Executive Director; Will Steger, Founder & President
Kristen Poppleton and Eugenie Scott Nicole Rom, Executive Director and
Will Steger, President

Emerging Leaders


Cole Norgarrden
Cole Norgarrden, YEA! MN Co-Chair

Our high school environmental leadership program, YEA! MN is gearing up for the school year!  August has been a month of planning and preparation.  This year the student steering committee hopes to coordinate a program that is more reliable, consistent, and available than in past years.  Cole Norgarrden, YEA! MN Co-Chair and Joe Kruse, YEA! MN Coordinator led a workshop at our Summer Institute on engaging youth.  YEA! MN also organized a student panel where five youth leaders shared their action projects with the teacher attendees and answered questions on how to inspire and work with youth on sustainability projects.


The RE-AMP Network has been working to ramp up its next round of “prime-time” and “allies” funding for its members, which will be released soon. In last year’s round of allies funding, six youth organizations received grants. Youth organizations will use the funding to be more effective in their front-line and grassroots climate work. Youth organizations will seek to increase collaboration and utilize strengths that already exist across the network. One great example of that work is Grand Aspiration’s Summer of Solutions program. Check out their Solutionaries blog.

In The News

MPR News

MPR News - Eugenie ScottOur guest speaker, Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, discussed teachers coming under fire for teaching global warming and other climate change concepts with MPR News.

Read More


MinnPost - Eugenie ScottMinnPost interviews Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education about the addition of a climate initiative to its efforts to support the teaching of science.

Read More


Tom Niemisto of MN2020Tom Niemisto of MN2020 captures the WSF public forum with Will Steger and Eugenie Scott, of the National Center for Science Education.

Read More


SoS-bike-picture-fixedIn honor of our upcoming Climate Ride, here’s a bike-friendly action tip. Want to help make your community become more bicycle-friendly? Track your trips! The Metropolitan Council has licensed the use of CycleTracks, a smartphone app developed by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, in the Twin Cities region. When you sign up (you’ll only need to provide your age, gender, and email address), it records your bike trip as you ride and sends the details to the Met Council when you’re done. The Council will use this data to give transportation planners a better understanding of the routes cyclists take across the Metro region. Your rides may impact planning features such as bike lanes, improved safety features, and funding for other bike-friendly programs. This app is also being used in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Track your Bike trips with Cycle Tracks! Read More

Photo of the Month

Will Steger - Grand Rapids
University of St. Thomas Associate Professor, Dr. John Abraham,
gives the keynote address on climate science at the 7th annual
Summer Institute for Climate Change Education.


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