How environmental education
works in Minnesota
- Environmental Education Advisory Task Force Minutes - 2008 - November
Environmental Education Advisory Task Force
November 6, 2008
Pete Cleary, David Weinand, Tony Bormann, Dawn Flinn, Tom Moffatt, Lee Ann Landstrom, Tracy Fredin, Amy Markle, Deborah Durkin, and Joel Silverman
Nathan Meyer, Jeff Lederman, Patty Born Selly, Lisa Koch, and Nalani McCutcheon
Mike Kennedy, David Benke, Rick Patraw, John Ikeda, Su Beran, Denise Stromme, and Colleen Schoenecker
Kimberly Benson-Johnson, Brinkley Prescott, and Clark Erickson.
Chairman, Pete Cleary, called the meeting to order at 12:37 p.m.
Pete asked everyone to introduce themselves again because there are people here who were not here last month.
Directors Report - Dave Benke
Dave commented on the passage of the constitutional amendment which dedicates three-eighths of one percent of a sales tax increase towards protection and enhancement of the environment. He distributed a fiscal analysis describing the amendment. Thirty-three percent will be used to restore, protect and enhance wetlands, prairies, forests and habitat for fish, game and wildlife. Another 33 percent will be used to protect, enhance, and restore water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams with at least five percent of the fund to be spent protecting drinking water sources. Then 14.25 percent will be used to support parks and trails, and the remaining 19.75 percent will be used for arts and cultural heritage. These percentages are dedicated until the year 2034 (25 years).
This was an important vote to get this approval and says a lot about Minnesotans. We value our environment and arts and are willing to pay the extra tax to do so.
From an agency stand point, there were going to be problems in the budget if there was not a funding mechanism looked at. This is a huge step to have this dedicated funding. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is in the middle of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) work and assessment work and these are difficult to start and stop. We would have been short money very soon, so this is a huge step in helping to keep these projects going.
The November forecast coming out in December will set the tone for the legislative session as far as how many resources will be available. There is one positive note to start with and that is the passage of this amendment.
Denise Stromme questioned whether or not Dave sees the possibility of using some of the funding toward education, such as wetland or water education.
Dave answered that with the scheme set up the way it is, the funds are dedicated but the legislature still needs to appropriate them. Education is definitely an important component. This is not meant to take away other funding, it is meant to supplement it. We will have to deal with it as we prepare the budget.
Mike Kennedy agreed that there is a lot of monitoring work, restoration work, and habitat protection to be done. But, without the education component we do not build up the stewardship philosophy that assures us sustained healthy and clean water, air and habitat. Education is a necessary piece for this to happen.
Dave stated that another thing the Prevention and Assistance Division is doing is taking a look at the division and doing a "refresh". We will be looking at where and how we will do the work to advance the environmental goals for the state. We are getting input from the other divisions. One of the best things is that people are seeing more the role in the education arena. We are making sure that the rest of the agency knows the role of the Prevention and Assistance Division. The focus seems to be mostly external, and we need to make sure we pay attention internally as well.
Pete Cleary questioned what the timeline might be for the construction of the council for the allocation of the funds.
Dave stated he is not sure what the timing is at this time. He also said that the funding will not come until 2010 for approval and use.
Lee Ann Landstrom stated that next year the council will be formed, then the sales tax will be assessed, and then the disbursements start later than that, correct?
Dave stated that any time you start a new fund it needs to be put into place before it is deposited into. It will depend on what is generated by the sales tax as to how much revenue there is. But sales tax is not a new fund, so the estimates should be accurate. Then we will decide what to spend in different categories.
Lee Ann Landstrom asked whether there will be general allocations to different agencies, or if the agencies have to come forward and request the allocations.
Dave answered that it varies from fund to fund. We need to understand all the pieces and what it looks like as one package. The legislature has to actually make the approvals from the recommendations.
Pete Cleary questioned whether Dave sees this changing the way the LCCMR is operating right now. Dave answered that he has not heard anything about changes there.
Information Sharing - All
Joel Silverman, Kim Benson-Johnson, Colleen Schoenecker and Brinkley Prescott introduced themselves.
Mike Kennedy asked everyone to please save their changes to the draft minutes for the next meeting. This will keep everyone from having to receive so many e-mails regarding changes. We will have time at each meeting to make changes and approve as changed. Also, the agenda will come out earlier, so you can see it before the meeting. The information sharing will happen each meeting, but it is only 15 minutes so please be concise and brief.
Motion: Tom Moffat moved to approve the October 2, 2008, minutes with the changes; Kim Benson-Johnson seconded the motion.
The changes were to add Lee Ann Landstrom and David Weinand as members absent.
The motion passed unanimously 10-0-0.
Dawn Flinn shared that the DNR Outdoor Education Working Group is working on what the definition of outdoor education is. They will be writing some legislation. It is a group of 12. Pete requested that someone from this group give a presentation to the EEATF when ready. Dawn answered, yes, this could be done.
Lee Ann Landstrom shared that she is going to the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) Conference.
Colleen Schoenecker will be working specifically with the WE3 group. The EEATF information is on the SEEK Web site.
Amy Markle will be speaking about her environmental education research on Saturday at the NAI Conference. Mike asked Amy if she would be willing to give her presentation to the EEATF. Amy said, yes, she would be willing to do that.
Denise Stromme shared that the GreenPrint has been mailed out to about 600 people. If you get several copies, that is good, you can always share them and we want to recognize you for all your roles. The draft is still on the SEEK Web site, but the current copy will be added. An e-mail campaign will go out at a later date.
Deborah Durkin shared that she realized the internal environment part of this will be really interesting.
Dave Weinand has been reviewing livestock grant applications. The total investment by livestock producers was $150 million, and the total grant request was for over $12 million, and the grant was for one million.
Kim Benson-Johnson shared that the new Ag Mag comes out twice a year and it is directed to first graders primarily - adding to Dave Weinand's item.
Mike Kennedy shared that the 2009 EPA Environmental Education Grant RFP just came out and is due December 19.
WE3 Pilot Project Grant Results - Brinkley Prescott
WE3 was started by Clark Erickson from the Minnesota Department of Education. The plan was to develop bridging documents, which essentially make a connection between ideas and reality. The initial idea was to develop five pilot bridging documents with five different state agencies. The decision on what to do with them would be done after they were created. The contract was awarded to Brinkley Prescott to do the work of developing the five bridging documents.
The first problem encountered was that the Department of Education does not have any curriculum so they cannot make a bridging document. So it was decided to substitute a "for profit" business.
Brinkley Prescott gave a presentation with an overview of the development of WE3. WE3 stands for "We Learn, We Save, We Win". To create the bridging documents she met with the agency representatives, built the template, received feedback from the representatives, and then finalized them. The representatives were as follows:
Kim Benson-Johnson, Minnesota Department of Health
Dawn Flinn, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Neil Cunningham, Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Mike Kennedy, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Clark Erickson, Minnesota Department of Education
Bridging documents are a way to demonstrate a phenomenon, a big idea spelling out a connection between activities, and are a "dashboard" document.
Challenges faced in development of the bridging documents included the depth of materials, grade level, activity location, "we save" options, changes in standards, and current information. Teachers want to meet the state standards and are going to be much more likely to use them if it helps them do so. It is challenging to connect to more than one grade at a time. Best practices guidance documents for state agencies would be helpful in creating materials for K-12 teachers.
The next steps should include how the bridging documents intersect with the overall goals of the WE3 program.
It is important the agencies work together. Everyone does their different things, but there are many connections. It needs to be brought together for teachers.
The intent for the EEATF is to work toward the goals of the four committees. Everyone on the task force still needs to know what is happening on the other committees. This will be accomplished with the full task force check-in time after the committees meet separately.
So as far as the WE3 bridging documents are concerned now, the WE3 committee needs to discuss them, and then report back to the entire task force. If the task force as a whole has a request, then the WE3 committee should work on that and report back to the group.
Brinkley has completed what she was asked to do by completing the five bridging documents. Mike said that now the EEATF needs to decide where to go from here.
Committee Break-Out Meetings
Check-in with the Full EEATF - All
CCEP (Climate Change Education Plan) Committee
Mike Kennedy shared that this committee submitted a grant of $5000 and have not gotten results back yet. They have gathered climate change initiative information from other states. They have also received CCAG from the Governor - and recommendations. They are checking into what other states recommend and what the Governor's office recommends and waiting to see if they get their grant to hold focus groups with educators, and others in the science community.
Lee Ann Landstrom, Pete Cleary and Mike Kennedy were present.
Several ideas were generated in the review process for how to make it more efficient and a better process.
We discussed the need for a better rubric for the GreenPrint Grants as well as the idea of points for "low income and under-served communities."
Program Officer needs more authority to attain volunteers to review and perhaps more authority in general over the entire process.
More money for smaller grant program
A sub-set could be established for RELC needs
Simplify application for RELC applications
Marketing was discussed and the following were ideas:
A mass mailing to all schools, or mass email, or teachers association
Other state agencies should be notified about the granting opportunities
Other sources for funding were brainstormed
Getting included on Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) in the regulatory arena of the MPCA's work
Direct MPCA allocations
Outdoor education groups
It was also discussed that the ELM Committee ask the Task Force to support a memo to the Commissioner of MPCA to commit to a three year allocation. ELM would provide an RFP that has a different theme for each year of the three years. We want to address the unmet needs identified in round one of the ELM grant program where we received over $600K in requests to fund $60K!
Mike Kennedy was directed to prepare a memo on behalf of the ELM Committee for the Task force as a whole to support, inclusive of the ideas above.
It was brought up that we need a brochure/fact sheet as soon as possible to market and attain further investors in this effort.
GreenPrint 3 Committee
Denise Stromme shared that with the GreenPrint 3 being out, the work is just beginning. Please take the time to read it with the understanding that this is the big picture/strategic planning. The board did a great job and spent much time on it. Get it out there. We need people to use it.
The WE3 Committee met with Brinkley Prescott to better understand the Bridging Document project and to have an opportunity to talk to her about the challenges of her grant work, and the work ahead for the committee. After looking at the documents, we also looked at a reformatted copy that a technical editor had made more user-friendly.
The group decided the new format was simpler and would like to see the documents in this style as well as a few more changes. It was determined that our next steps would include:
Survey for focus group - after an email prompt from Dawn Flinn each member would e-mail his or her questions to consider for a survey for formal educators to "test" or "pilot" the documents already completed. Su Beran will talk with the agency survey person to get assistance.
We discussed how many people would need to be surveyed for it to be statistically accurate; Deborah Durkin volunteered to talk to a staff person at the Dept. of Health for more information. We also talked about how to do the survey and who to ask. We will look into one of the free sources such as Survey Monkey or Google Survey as well as use paper surveys.
Each member would spend some time on SEEK looking for examples to know what they would like the bridging documents to look like on SEEK. Colleen Schoenecker will come to the next meeting and explain/show what we need for the documents to be on SEEK.
We congratulated Brinkley on a great job putting together these five documents and the template that can be used for more of these documents.
Motion: Tony Bormann motioned to adjourn at 3:32 p.m.; Joel Silverman seconded the motion; motion passed unanimously 6-0-0.
- For more information, contact:
Environmental Education Advisory Task Force
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Posted: 1/8/09
- Revised: 4/15/09
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