As the leaves begin to change color and the weather turns crisp, we are gearing up for a fun and exciting year of environmental education programs here at The Field Museum. This fall also marks a season of change for our Calumet Environmental Education Program (CEEP). Building on our ten years of success in the Calumet region, we are building new partnerships to engage more youth in nature throughout the Chicago Wilderness region. It's an exciting time as we work with all of you to provide cutting-edge and innovative opportunities for children and youth to connect with nature, engage in hands-on science learning, and build leadership so that they will become the next generation of conservation leaders.
Our programs would not be possible without your support. This past school year we worked with all of you – teachers, supporters, and partners – to engage over 3,700 students in the Mighty Acorns, Earth Force and Calumet Is My Back Yard (CIMBY) programs. We are excited to welcome the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to our Mighty Acorns program and to continue working closely with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Dunes Learning Center, Earth Force Incorporated, and the Chicago Public Schools to help support Calumet students. Thanks again for your help in getting students outside and learning in nature!
In this e-newsletter you will find useful tools for learning about nature in the Chicago region, events and workshops, and educator resources.
Thanks again for all your hard work and we’re looking forward to working with you all again this year.
Alison, Angie, Betsy, Ivana, and Laura
Signs of the Season
Lucky for us, many species of native plants like asters and goldenrods wait until fall to start blooming. Visit a local prairie or woodland to see this explosive display of yellow, purple, and white.
Fall is full of opportunities for learning. As day light decreases and the temperatures drops, trees prepare for winter. In the summer the dominance of chlorophyll gives leaves their green color, but during the fall the amount of chlorophyll declines and other leaf pigments, such as carotene and xanthophyll, begin to show and give leaves the traditional yellow and orange hues we associate with autumn.
Make sure to watch the skies and listen for the rattling call of sand hill cranes as they migrate through the Chicago Region. Sand hill cranes are just one of the over 300 species of birds that pass through the Chicago Region each spring and fall on their annual migration from summer breeding grounds to their winter habitat.
Looking for educator events, opportunities for your students to shine, and/or ways to enjoy nature this fall? Check out the following activities:
The Field Museum will host a Youth Environmental Action Workshop on October 8th for 7th and 8th grade educators. Participants will receive hands-on watershed, climate change, environmental justice, and cultural heritage activities to use with young people as well as learn how to incorporate service-learning to help youth develop important leadership, cooperation, critical thinking, environmental leadership, and citizenship skills through the Earth Force curriculum. Substitutes, CPDUs, breakfast and lunch will be provided. Call 312-665-7441 for more information.
The Stories in Nature, Nature in Stories - Leave No Child Inside Workshop on October 9th from 9:30am-3:00pm at the Morton Arboretum will explore the intersection of nature education, storytelling, and children's literature. This professional development workshop for educators and librarians will give you ways to include stories in your nature program or nature in your literature program. Cost $35. Program fee includes admission to the Arboretum, refreshments, box lunch, and program materials.
Ever wondered how you could make a museum in your own classroom? Check out The Field Museum’s “Through Collections Professional Development Series”. Join us for the October Workshop - Learning Through Collections 101: Using Objects in Your Classroom - taking place on Saturday October 19th from 10am-12pm at The Field Museum. All of these sessions are designed for teachers, school specialists, and administrators.
The Chicago Foundation for Education is hosting its 25th Annual Teachers as Leaders & Learners Workshop: Innovation through Collaboration on Saturday, October 19th from 7:45am to 1:00pm at Whitney Young High School. Receive CFE Grant and Fellowship information, grant-writing assistance, and explore their resource fair featuring more than 25 Chicago-based cultural and education organizations. This workshops is open to any PreK-8th Grade CPS teachers.
Join us for The Field Museum's Annual Educator Open House on Thursday, October 24th, from 5-8pm. Be the first to see our newest temporary exhibition Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair BEFORE it opens to the public! You'll also get the chance to talk with Museum experts, meet scientists, learn about the cutting-edge Field Museum research, and see new and improved materials from the N. W. Harris Learning Collection. Every educator will receive a special discount on a Learning Collection membership, plus the chance to win some amazing raffle prizes. This is a free event open to all educators. Earn up to 3 CPDUs. Free parking is available to the first 100 teachers to check-in. Pre-registration required.
Check out an upcoming Climate Clinic to learn from local scientists and park managers who will showcase the latest research and tools for understanding how climate change is affecting our region. Participants will receive a copy of Purdue University’s new toolkit on climate change and try out some of the activities. This $35 fee includes lunch, materials, and Purdue's climate change toolkit. Saturday, Nov. 23, 9:00 am– 5:00pm at the Douglas Center in Gary, Indiana.
- The member organizations of the Calumet Stewardship Initiative have put together an awesome array of events so we can all enjoy the natural wonders that the Calumet region has to offer this fall. Check out their complete listing of member events and stay up to date on Calumet Region Events by “liking” the Calumet Stewardship Initiative (CSI) Facebook page.
Looking for ways to connect kids to nature in your community or classroom? Check out the following links for ideas and tools to get children outside and active in nature this fall:
- Where do the Children Play? is a documentary that examines the impact of the disappearance of play and nature from the daily lives of children.
- The Critters of Illinois Pocket Guide is an easy-to-use and inexpensive pocket guide to the most commonly found animals in Illinois.
- Track Finder by Dorcas Miller provides a user-friendly key for identifying mammal tracks.
- A Golden Guide: Pond Life by George K. Reid offers a concise, youth-friendly guide with basic information about water, ponds and pond life.
- Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts by Delia Clark & Steven Glazer shows how to develop and lead quests and community treasure hunts that tell of the nature and culture of a place.
- Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown is a two-part guide that includes a mentor’s manual and activities designed to connect people with nature and heritage.
- Mapmaking with Children: Sense of Place Education for the Elementary Years by David Sobel show how to engage children in creating backyard and community maps as a way to teach about geography, history, and place.
We’d like to thank our funders for their generous support:
- Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services
- Illinois Department of Natural Resources
- Sally Mead Hands Foundation
- Staff Transitions: CEEP's Urban Conservation Educator, Jessica Cañas, left The Field Museum in August to embark on a graduate school adventure. We thank her for all her hard work on the Mighty Acorns and Ford Environmental Leadership Internship programs and wish her the best in her studies. Ivana Pavlovic and Alison Paul will be supporting the Mighty Acorns program this year.
Betsy Quail, Northwest Indiana