February 2023 Newsletter
Updated: Feb 23
Park for Every Classroom
February 2023 Newsletter
Welcome to the first installment of the monthly Park for Every Classroom newsletter! With our PEC community continuing to grow, we hope this will be a good format to keep folks up to date with the latest PEC happenings, highlight PEC successes and lessons learned, and share relevant resources for professional development, equity-centered climate change education, and more. Let’s dive in!
🌋 Very Successful PD at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
On January 18th, a group of about 30 educators from Volcano School of Arts and Sciences (VSAS) ventured into Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (HAVO) for a two-and-a-half-hour professional development session led by a PEC Team including Jody Anastasio (NPS), Barbara Sabin (VSAS), and Scott Laursen (The Pacific Islands Climate Adaptation Science Center (PI-CASC)), and many other wonderful staff from all three organizations. The workshop was supported by PEC Spark funding from NPS WASO. Here’s a quick recap of the PD and some highlights and lessons learned that they shared:
Overview: The workshop started out with all of the teachers gathered under a tent for introductions and background information on wildfires within the park and how they relate to climate change. The group then headed out for an hour-long hike led by local experts to connect what they learned about wildfires to the physical landscape. Back at the tent, park and PI-CASC staff shared resources for engaging students in these topics at the park and in the classroom. Throughout the workshop, teachers had the opportunity to share stories and ask questions.
Place-Based: From taking a hike through the park while talking about the specifics of wildfires and climate change in that area to locally-sourced food and drinks, a major strength of the PD was its connection to that specific place. As a result the experience and the learning could be “totally relevant, not theoretical,” according to Barbara Sarbin (VSAS).
Teamwork and Connections: Everyone expressed how impressed they were with how the team worked together as a whole, from the planning stages through this workshop and beyond. In addition, workshop leaders and attendees had an opportunity to forge fruitful relationships with each other and the park.
Great Teacher Feedback: After the PD concluded, workshop leaders sent out a feedback form to teachers and heard from many teachers about how amazing the PD was and that they plan to return to the park with students. One teacher wrote that this afternoon was “simply one of our best PDs,” and many others expressed a similar sentiment.
Flexibility: With a packed agenda, big goals, and a limited time frame, fitting everything in can be hard, and this PEC Team said they benefited from being flexible and well-organized so they could adjust their agenda on the fly.
Social Hour: Workshop leaders reserved a half-hour at the end of their PD for an opportunity for leaders and attendees to mingle and enjoy refreshments. This more informal opportunity to gather proved to be a highlight for many and is something this team thinks they will try to repeat for future workshops.
Prep Work: Teachers were asked to bring observations from students about the environment and current weather written in journal entries over the preceding weeks. Because of the holiday break, this time frame was cut a little short, and in the future, the HAVO team said they hope to give teachers more time to collect these observations to be used in the workshop.
All in all, the PD sounded like a massive success. A huge congrats to the HAVO team for an amazing PD as well as a huge thank you for telling us all about it and sharing the photos!
🎉 A Big Welcome to PEC’s 2nd National Cohort!
We are so excited to announce that the following teams will be a part of our second national cohort:
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, KY
Noelle LeGrand (NPS), Rob Thurman (The Lincoln Museum), and Felicia Jamison (University of Louisville) look forward to working with the National Weather Service through an existing partnership to offer place-specific climate-focused programming to rural youth who might otherwise not have an opportunity to engage with these topics.
Canaveral National Seashore in Titusville, FL
Ashley Lord (NPS), Terry Duncan (Burns Science and Technology Charter School), and Katherine Harris (University of Central Florida) are excited to forge stronger ties between the seashore and local schools and get students outside investigating the impacts of climate change in their communities.
Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, MA
MaryBeth Faucher (NPS), Kristin Gallas (UMass Tsongas Industrial History Center), Tara Goodhue (Lowell High School), and Stephanie Selvaggio (Lowell High School) are looking forward to exploring climate change and climate justice through the lenses of industrial history and public health.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, VT
Rainey McKenna (NPS), Christine Scales (Billings Farm and Museum), and Kat Robbins (Woodstock Union High School) are excited to develop new programming and PD opportunities aimed specifically at equity-centered climate change education.
National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C.
Jenn Epstein (NPS), Kendra Heffelbower (D.C. Public Schools), Jim Reese (Washington International School), and Abby Krolik (Washington International School) hope to leverage this site’s national profile to bring more attention to climate change and climate justice while also focusing on place-based programming, developing stronger ties with the local community, and empowering local students to be climate stewards for their home.
National Park of American Samoa in Pago Pago, American Samoa
Jess Epperson (NPS), Kendra Pinsker (Pacific Horizons School), and Andra Samoa (Leone Restoration Project) come to PEC knowing that American Samoa is acutely feeling the threats of climate change; they are excited to bring climate change education to a place where this learning could have immediate impacts.
From the interviews and applications, we can confidently say this is a remarkable group of educators, and we look forward to working with all of the teams. These teams will be participating in a series of webinars and an in-person workshop in July to introduce them to PEC and help prepare them to lead their own equity-centered climate change education based PD. We’re excited to connect these teams with the PEC Community of Practice (CoP) down the road!
(Park images from NPS.org)
🍄 First CoP Meeting of 2023
As many of you may have been aware, we had our first Community of Practice (CoP) meeting of 2023 a few weeks ago. This online gathering brought together teams from NPS Region 1, many of whom have been in the PEC community for years, and teams from our national pilot this past year. During our time together, we split into small groups to meet some new faces as well as brainstorm what participants hope to get out of this CoP. Following the gathering, our intrepid facilitator Delia Clark worked to put together a plan for future meetings that reflects all of the great ideas shared in this initial meeting. Here are some of the highlights from that plan:
We are looking forward to five more virtual gatherings in 2023: March 15, May 25, July 13, September 20, and November 15 (all from 3-4:15 ET), as well as lots of opportunities for informal and self-directed visits and idea exchanges in between. Everyone on your PEC team should have received calendar invitations to the five virtual gatherings last week – if not, please reach out to Ingrid Thyr, PEC Program Coordinator, at email@example.com so she can add you and/or your teammates to the list.
Each gathering will include a presentation (or two) by your fellow PEC Teams sharing their experiences relevant to PEC work; an opportunity to break out into smaller groups and discuss specific promising practices, gnarly challenges, and emerging questions; and an opportunity for group problem solving around your current challenges, however large or small.
The proposed list of topics to cover includes:
Promoting PD Offerings
Successes and Promising Practices in PD
Co-Stewardship and Co-Authorship
Park/Partner Relationship and Collaboration
Climate Change Education
Incorporating Other Content Areas
Would your team be willing to share something you have focused on with the rest of us? Please sign up for a theme and pick your month here. It doesn’t have to be a formal presentation, (though visuals showing off your park are always welcome!) - just a chance to add a boost to our friendly community of learning, inquiry, and practice.
There are more details in Delia’s February 6th email, but please reach out to Delia with any questions or ideas you have about the community of practice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
🌡️ Heat Island Resources
One additional goal of this newsletter is to create a space to share resources; This week, we’re sharing some resources related to heat islands:
The Climate Explorer - A data driven tool to explore how climate change is predicted to affect your city, town, or neighborhood, including the likelihood of extreme heat events.
Neighborhoods at Risk - Another data driven tool that combines climate projections with socioeconomic data to identify at-risk neighborhoods.
Groundwork Lawrence - A case study in how one organization is teaching about the intersection of housing discrimination and climate risk and what they’re doing to address it.
Measuring Heat Islands (EPA) - Last but not least, the EPA has a great set of pages all about heat islands, including how to measure heat islands in your own community.
Screenshot from The Climate Explorer
🌱 Thanks for reading!
That’s all for now for our first edition of the PEC newsletter! You can send ideas, questions, and/or feedback about this newsletter to email@example.com.