Thanks to Minnesota’s Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota’s Resources (LCCMR), we will be receiving funding over the next two years for a new project, Engaging Students in Environmental Stewardship through Adventure Learning. The $250,000 allocated to the Will Steger Foundation will support the development of a new curriculum, teacher training, online learning and collaboration with schools. The focus of the project will be on investigating the connection between Minnesota’s changing climate and the impacts on ecosystems and natural resources. Outcomes will include the development, evaluation, and implementation of an adventure learning climate change education program, which ties Will Steger’s adventures with engaging content on Minnesota’s natural environment and the impacts of climate change.
The program includes: a) Grades 3-12 curriculum that is reviewed by educators, aligned with Minnesota state standards, and is interdisciplinary, and experiential in nature; b) professional development opportunities for over 300 Minnesota educators through our Summer Institutes for Climate Change Education, c) an online classroom, including multi-media resources and social networking features; and d) evaluation.
A big focus of the new curriculum will be phenology, the study of the effects of climate on plant and animal life cycles, and the skills necessary to be a good observer of these phenomena. We are lucky to have the archives of Will Steger beginning from when he was boy, that show how he has dedicated most of his life to practicing these very skills. Items from these archives will be integrated into the curriculum(see journal excerpt below). An article posted today on the Union of Concerned Scientists website, illustrates the importance of developing observational skills. The article describes that scientists are observing an earlier arrival of spring and the effects this has on animal and plant life cycles. It is because scientists, and other naturalists have spent time recording their observations over long periods of time, that we are able to understand better the results of climate change. Through our new curriculum, we hope to build awareness and interest in Minnesota’s natural environment and the impact of climate change, and provide educators and students with the skills necessary for active and life-long stewardship.
An excerpt from Will Steger’s weather journal in 1956.