Inspiring Environmental Stewards

Congratulations, Green Earth Book Award Winners!

April 21, 2017

We are proud to announce the winners of our 2017 Green Earth Book Award.  Our national national award recognizes books that best convey the environmental stewardship message and inspire youth to grow a deeper appreciation, respect, and responsibility for their natural environment.  This year’s winners shed light on complicated issues surrounding human’s impact on the planet – including coal mining, endangered coral and sea turtle habitats, and the loss of our seed diversity.

“Green Earth Book Award winners offer hope to people who feel frustrated about how the new administration is ignoring the science and the gravity of the declining health of our planet,” said Amy Marasco, founder and president of The Nature Generation. “These books are tools that we can use to educate our next generation and inspire them to play a role in reversing the dangerous effects of climate change.”

Environmental nonprofit The Nature Generation has bestowed the award for the past 13 years to bring national recognition to important works and their authors with its highly qualified “seal of approval” for environmental literature.  The winners are chosen by a panel of literary, environmental and educational professionals.

Picture Book

Follow the Moon Home, written by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books)

Acclaimed activist Philippe Cousteau and renowned author Deborah Hopkinson team up to offer a story of the powerful difference young people can make in the world. Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea, and follow her as she finds her way in a new place and helps bring together a whole community to save the sea turtles of the South Carolina coast. Age 5-8

Honor Winners:

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

In this breathtaking companion to the award-winning Grandfather Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, tells a poignant, personal story of the damage of wastefulness, gorgeously illustrated by Evan Turk.  Age 4-8

Green City, written and illustrated by Allan Drummond (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

When a tornado destroyed Greensburg, Kansas, residents decided to rebuild a town that could not only survive another storm, but one that was built in an environmentally sustainable way.  Age 5-8

 

Children’s Fiction

Saving Wonder, written by Mary Knight (Scholastic Press)

In this utterly transporting debut about the power of words, the importance of friendship, and the magic of wonder, Curly Hines must decide whether to fight Big Coal to save the mountain he calls home.  Knight delivers a strong environmental message and a language lesson in her debut novel. Readers will feel Curley’s sorrow and cheer him on during his campaign to save what he loves most. Knight frankly addresses the reality of harsh changes, but Curley’s spirit, moving people inside and outside the community to act, is inspirational.  Ages 8-12

 

Children’s Nonfiction

Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, written by Maris Wicks (First Second/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)

Science Comics: Coral Reefs offers a complete introduction to coral reefs, in a gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views. Whether you’re a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty-year-old with a secret passion for ocean creatures, his books is for you.  This absorbing look at ocean science covers the biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance. Nonfiction comics genius Maris Wicks brings to bear her signature combination of hardcore cuteness and in-depth science. Age 9-13

Honor Winner:

Pocket Change: Pitching in for a Better World, written by Michelle Mulder (Orca Book Publishers)

Each year, humanity uses resources equivalent to nearly one and a half Earths, and we’re still not meeting everyone’s needs.  What if you could meet all your needs while getting to know your neighbors and protecting the environment at the same time? Find out how growing a tiny cabbage can fight poverty, how a few dollars can help ten families start their own businesses and how running errands for a neighbor can help you learn to become a bike mechanic—for free!  Age 8-12

 

Young Adult Fiction

 Dig Too Deep, written by Amy Allgeyer (Albert Whitman & Co)

With her mother facing prison time for a violent political protest, seventeen-year-old Liberty Briscoe has no choice but to leave her Washington, DC, apartment and take a bus to Ebbottsville, Kentucky, to live with her granny. There she can finish high school and put some distance between herself and her mother– her ‘former’ mother, as she calls her. But Ebbottsville isn’t the same as Liberty remembers, and it’s not just because the top of Tanner’s Peak has been blown away to mine for coal. Half the county is out of work, an awful lot of people in town seem to be sick, and the tap water is bright orange–the same water that officials claim is safe to drink. When Granny’s lingering cold turns out to be something much worse, Liberty is convinced the mine is to blame, and starts an investigation that quickly plunges her into a world of secrets, lies, threats, and danger. Liberty isn’t deterred by any of it, but as all her searches turn into dead ends, she comes to a difficult decision: turn to violence like her former mother or give up her quest for good.  Age 13 and up.

Honor Winner:

Rescued, written by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic Press)

Raja has been raised in captivity within the confines of an American home. He was stolen when he was young to be someone’s pet. Now he’s grown up…and is about to be sent away again, to a place from which there will be no return. There’s one last chance to save Raja — a chance that will force John to confront his fractured family and the captivity he’s imposed on himself all of these years.  Age 12 and up

Young Adult Nonfiction

 The Story of Seeds, written by Nancy Castaldo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Something as small as a seed can have a worldwide impact. Did you know there are top-secret seed vaults hidden throughout the world? And once a seed disappears, that’s it—it’s gone forever? With the growth of genetically modified foods, the use of many seeds is dwindling—of 80,000 edible plants, only about 150 are being cultivated. With a global cast of men and women, scientists and laypeople, and photographic documentation, Nancy Castaldo chronicles where our food comes from, and more importantly, where it is going as she digs deeper into the importance of seeds in our world. This empowering book also calls young adult readers to action with suggestions as to how they can preserve the variety of one of our most valuable food sources through simple everyday actions. Readers of Michael Pollen will enjoy the depth and fascinatingly intricate social economy of seeds.  Age 12 and up

Honor Winner

Inside an Osprey’s Nest, written by Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie (Schiffer Publishing)

Take a photographic journey through nesting season with a newly mated osprey pair. In this true raptor adventure, the ospreys prepare a nest and mate, but their eggs do not hatch. Through an unlikely twist of events, the unviable eggs are swapped by biologists with hatchlings from an ill-fated nest. Witness the heartwarming account as the adults become foster parents and care for the young, including a nest interloper. Watch as the helpless chicks grow into fledglings and experience first flight. Age 12-21

 

Click here to see the short list.

 

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Pocket Change

 

Click here to download a complete list of Green Earth Book Awards winners since 2004.

3rd Graders Learn Hands-on Stewardship

We kicked off Earth Day week by hosting a field trip at the Chapman DeMary Trail for the Guilford Elementary Green Beans environmental club.  Third grade students participated in a variety of activities at the trail, including planting over 20 plants in the pollinator habitat.

Students rotated through stations with an interesting variety of hands-on activities for students:

  1. how much energy it takes to clean water (The Loudoun County Public Schools Energy Education)
  2. a cupcake helps demonstrate layers of rock in the earth (Luck Stone)
  3. ways to slow the movement of water (The Catoctin Scenic River Advisory Committee)
  4. a hike to experience things in nature with different senses (The Piedmont Environmental Council)
  5. a nature bingo and scavenger hunt – with binoculars!  (volunteers from Middleburg Bank, Jason Sengpeihl’s Allstate Agency, The Nature Generation’s board)

Before they left, each student got their own copy of a book called Arthur Turns Green which won The Nature Generation’s annual Green Earth Book Award (2012 Picture Book), a packet of seeds to plant, and a Chapman DeMary Trail pencil. The books were donated by The Nature Generation and Jason P. Sengpiehl and his agency’s team in cooperation with the Allstate Foundation.

After returning to school, students shared what they learned during the field trip, including:

  • the names of various plants, like Trout Lily and May Apple
  • knowing that energy is important in the clean water process
  • little nasty critters can be floating in unclean water
  • finding out about layers and kinds of rock

They felt a sense of ownership and pride after planting in the pollinator meadow, knowing they can make a difference in simple ways. Even the parent chaperones were impressed with the stations and presenters, and learned things for their home gardens. Some have decided to make these kinds of gardens a family plan.

This field trip was made possible through a grant from Jason P. Sengpiehl and his agency’s team in cooperation with the Allstate Foundation. The plants from Watermark Woods were purchased through a grant The Nature Generation received from the Dominion Foundation.

Short List Winners Announced

We’ve announced the shortlist for our 2017 Green Earth Book Award, the national award that honors authors whose books best convey the environmental stewardship message to youth. We bestow it annually to promote books that inspire children to grow a deeper appreciation, respect, and responsibility for their natural environment.

“Indifference and even denial toward the science of climate change continues to escalate,” said Amy Marasco, president of The Nature Generation. “Each one of these amazing books counters this dangerous trend and encourages stewardship and the pursuit of science, which is even more critical moving forward if we are to raise a generation of children who are prepared to care for the planet.”

The shortlist includes titles published in 2016 in five categories. Young Adult Fiction, Young Adult Nonfiction, Children’s Fiction, and Children’s Nonfiction and Picture Book. The winners and honor books will be announced on Earth Day, April 22.

The books were vetted by a panel of esteemed judges representing environmental and educational organizations in private industry, associations, and governmental natural resource agencies, as well as college professors and elementary school teachers.  Click here to learn more about the award.

2017 Short List

  • Ada’s Violin, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, written by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus and illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
  • Because of an Acorn, written by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Chronicle Books)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the Endangered Green Sea Turtle, written by Sarah Machajewski (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Dig Too Deep, written by Amy Allgeyer (Albert Whitman & Co)
  • Every Breath We Take: A Book About Air, written by Maya Ajmera and Dominique Browning (Charlesbridge Publishing)
  • Follow the Moon Home, written by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books)
  • Green City, written and illustrated by Allan Drummond (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Hopping Ahead of Climate Change—Snowshoe Hares, Science, and Survival, written by Sneed B. Collard III (Bucking Horse Books (Distributed by Mountain Press)
  • Inside an Osprey’s Nest, written by Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie (Schiffer Publishing)
  • Journey: The Amazing Story of Or-7, the Oregon Wolf That Made History, written by Beckie Elgin (Inkwater Press)
  • Mr. McGinty’s Monarchs, written by Linda Vander Heyden and illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen (Sleeping Bear Press)
  • Pocket Change: Pitching in for a Better World, written by Michelle Mulder (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Rescued, written by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic Press)
  • Saving Wonder, written by Mary Knight (Scholastic Press)
  • Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, written by Maris Wicks (First Second/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • The Story of Seeds, written by Nancy Castaldo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Where’s the Elephant?, written and illustrated by Stephane-Yves Barroux (Candlewick Press)

shortlist announced banner for natgen news final

 

Earth Day 2017 — Line Up for April

Join Us!

 

Eco Action Checklist

Going green is easier than you think. There are lots of little things you can do every day to help reduce greenhouse gases and be less harmful to the earth. In the spirit of Earth Day, we’ve compiled a list of actions your can take to reduce your impact.

Download Eco Action Checklist

 

Friday, April 21, 2017

2017 Green Earth Book Award Winners Announced

The winners of our annual award are chosen each year by a panel of judges representing environmental and educational organizations in private industry, associations, and governmental natural resource agencies, as well as college professors and elementary school teachers. We’re honored to recognize the authors and illustrators who inspire our youth to be responsible stewards.  The Shortlist will be announced early April.

Click here to learn more about the awards.

 Earth Day, Saturday, April 22, 2017

Children’s and Young Adult Literature Festival

Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland, 10:30 a.m.

We are proud to participate in this year’s Festival in celebration of our dear friend, Dr. Ernie Bond.   Please join us during any of these activities:

  • Donation of 300+ books to the City of Salisbury programs that focus on promoting, celebrating and inspiring children and adults to read
  • Winners of the 2017 Green Earth Book Award recognized – 10:30am
  • Environmental panel with past Green Earth Book Award-winners, Shelley Rotner, Karen Romano Young and Ali Benjamin -10:45 am

To register for the event ($35) or for details, go to http://www.salisbury.edu/teachered/SUCommunity/CommunityOutreach/childlitfest/.

Plant for the Planet Trail Event

Chapman Demary Trail, Purcellville, Virginia, 2:00- 4:00 pm

The rain didn’t dampen everyone’s spirits! We had some dedicated souls come out for the Earth Day Planting at the trail!  The Nature Generation hosted a Earth Day planting at the Trail and got 60 plants into the ground at the pollinator meadow. A student from Culbert Elementary who had been on a field trip to the trail last Earth Day came with her mom, and they happily planted for the pollinators. They were joined by Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser, Purcellville Town Council Members Chris Bledsoe and Karen Jimmerson, volunteers Gina Faber, Nancy Reaves, Mark Ware, and Nathan Ware, Amy Marasco–our president and founder, and our Teach Green Program Director Amie Ware. Coincidentally, three students from Loudoun Valley High School were also at the Chapman DeMary Trail to conduct water monitoring for their Capstone project, and one of these students joined us to help.

Lauren Cianciaruso, the mother of the Culbert Elementary School student, Olivia, who joined NatGen said that there was no other place her daughter would rather be on Earth Day. “She loves to plant. She’s a nature girl.”  Olivia won the door prize from Watermark Woods, which was a gift certificate to the native plant nursery along with a garden decoration so she’ll be able to get lots of plants for her garden at home.

Thank you the Dominion Foundation, Watermark Woods and Corcoran Brewing Company for supporting our Earth Day Plant for the Planet, and to all our dedicated volunteers!

 Click here to learn more about the Chapman DeMary Trail. 

 

April 27, 2017

Webinar: Closing the Gap in Environmental Literacy

1:15 – 2:45 p.m., hosted by the Security and Sustainability Forum and sponsored by Cadmus and CSRA

Join our webinar, “Closing the Environmental Literacy Gap” to learn how policy makers and educators are creating a more environmentally-literate population.  Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will join us in a comprehensive discussion on our nation’s environmental literacy gap:

  • what is the current gap
  • why it is relevant to our future (including environmental implications and security, economic, and social significance)
  • what are disparities within the gap itself
  • what are effective ways to close the gap

Of interest to: students and educators, policy makers and public officials, environmental and conservation organizations, and professionals working in the environment or energy sectors. We welcome office groups and classroom registrations, and expect this to be a popular topic so register early!

Click here to register.

April 29, 2017

People’s Climate Movement March

National Mall, Washington, D.C., 8:00 a.m.

“We Are The Nature Generation” volunteers wearing “No Planet B” t-shirts and carrying The Nature Generation banner show their support for protecting the environment at the People’s Climate Movement march. Bring your friends!

To get your t-shirt and join the group, contact jschmidt@natgen.org. For march details, go to https://peoplesclimate.org/

Photo Contest: What Takes Your Breath Away?

What in nature takes your breath away?  What makes you want to grab your camera to capture the beauty and awe of nature in a photo?  Is it a rushing stream, a deer foraging in the woods, or a perfect golden sunrise?  Submit your photo to our Earth Day photo contest by April 21 on by posting it on our Facebook page in comments, along with a line or two about why you think it is breathtaking. The Nature Generation will select one winner to be recognized on our website and one lucky entrant will be randomly selected to win a $25 gift?

 

Click here to photo contest link on Face Book.

 

 

monarch 2 good

 

Click here for tips on taking photos with your smartphone.

 

Earth Day Photo Contest Entry Rules

 All entries must be submitted by Friday, April 21, 2017 .  Winner that best illustrates and describes the theme of the competition, “Nature that Takes Your Breath Away,” will be posted on our website for the month of April.

  • One entry will be chosen randomly to receive a $25 gift card.
  • Submissions must be the entrant’s original, sole work.
  • The contest is open to amateur photographers only.
  • Entries may be in color or B&W.
  • Entrants must hold the rights to publish, distribute, and exhibit the photographs submitted and will not have transferred such rights to a third party or authorized a third party to otherwise use the photographs.
  • Contest entry constitutes a release to The Nature Generation for the right to use, reproduce, publish, and display the photographs without further compensation. The original slide, negative, or digital file may be requested for the winning photographs. Those photographs chosen as winners may not be published or otherwise used to promote products or commercial services for a period of two years following the award.
  • For photographs submitted to the competition, the photographer will be credited by name whenever feasible.
  • The entrant is responsible for obtaining any permits required to photograph protected places, animals or plant species, and/or releases for any human subjects (with the exception of large groups). The entrant is also solely responsible for any claim or complaint that may be filed by a party who has rights to a person(s), building(s), trademark(s) or any other subjects depicted in the entered photograph.
  • Photographs with names, dates, logos, writing, or other graphical images included in the image of the photo will not be considered.
  • An entrant who fails to comply with any of the Entry Rules or with the terms and conditions stated in the contest rules will be disqualified. The Nature Generation will not be responsible for any claims or damages arising from any violation of such rules. Should any such rules be violated or if it is discovered that any information given on the entry is false, The Nature Generation reserve the right to take any action deemed necessary. The decision of the panel of judges will be final.
  • Release and Limitations of Liability –By entering, you agree to release and hold harmless Sponsor, Facebook, their respective parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, and each of their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents (the “Released Parties”) from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Photo Contest or receipt or use of any prize, including, but not limited to: (a) unauthorized human intervention in the Photo Contest; (b) technical errors; (c) printing errors; (d) late or undelivered mail; (e) errors in the administration of the Photo Contest; or (f) injury or damage to persons or property. You waive the right to claim any attorney’s fees and any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, consequential, direct, or indirect damages.

 

 

 

“Closing the Environmental Literacy Gap” Webinar

Join us on April 27 for our free webinar, “Closing the Environmental Literacy Gap,” as policy makers and educators discuss how to create a population that cares for the earth.

Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) will join The Nature Generation in a comprehensive discussion on our nation’s environmental literacy gap:

  • what is the current gap
  • why it is relevant to our future (including environmental implications and security, economic, and social significance)
  • what are disparities within the gap itself
  • what are effective ways to close the gap

Of interest to: students and educators, policy makers and public officials, environmental and conservation organizations, and professionals working in the environment or energy sectors.

We welcome office groups and classroom registrations, and expect this to be a popular topic so register early!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

April 27, 2017 1:15 PM – 2:45 PM EST

Special thanks to the Security and Sustainability Forum, for hosting this webinar.

The Security & Sustainability Forum

Thanks also to Cadmus and CSRA, webinar sponsors and long time supporters of The Nature Generation’s mission.  Thank you to top leadership for your continued support and to all the employee volunteers who have supported us for so many years! We couldn’t do it without you!

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Take our survey for chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card

Friends and Supporters, we want to hear from you!

According to a recent National Environmental Education Foundation study, concern and knowledge about the environment is on the decline among Americans. There is a gap in environmental literacy!

By giving us two minutes of your time to take our survey, we can use your collective voice and craft our programs to ensure we reach this next generation!

Click here to take the survey (one lucky participant will win a $25 gift card).

Take Our Survey: Bridging The Gap in Environmental Literacy

2014 There is No Planet B circleFriends and Supporters, we want to hear from you!  By giving us two minutes of your time to take our survey, we can use your collective voice and craft our programs to ensure we reach this next generation!  Your name will be entered into a raffle to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
According to a recent National Environmental Education Foundation study, concern and knowledge about the environment is on the decline among Americans. There is a gap in environmental literacy!

Order Summer Flowers Today!

Order bulbs today so you can receive bulbs and seeds just in time for summer planting. The Nature Generation will receive a percentage of the proceeds from your order! Questions?  Contact aware@NatGen.org.

Click here to order – deadline is May 1!

Flower Ad for eblast 2017

Here are some tips to consider when planting summer bulbs:

  • Begin to plant summer flowering bulbs and tubers after the last frost date.
  • Quality bulbs and well drained soil are the key for  a flourishing garden.
  • Summer bulbs require a lot of water immediately after planting – keep soil in your garden moist.
  • Sprouting bulbs are ok – plants are anxious to get into the ground again.
  • Maintain a pH level of 6 to 7 to bring out the true color of flower bulbs.
  • No need to add fertilizer to bulbs and tubers.
  • Flowering bulbs and tubers look great in containers on the patio – plant them closer together for a full look.
  • Summer bulbs make great cut flowers. Try staking the taller varieties.
  • Plant your summer flowering bulbs and tubers within the season of purchase.
  • For colder zones, lift your bulbs and tubers in the fall and replant next spring. Shake off any soil and air dry for several days before storing in well ventilated, cool, dry location. No plastic – plants need to breathe.

Culbert Elementary Goes Green

Read Across America

The Nature Generation kicked off Culbert Elementary School’s Read Across America school-wide assembly by showing them our Read Green Festival video featuring some Culbert students! After the assembly, with the help of the girls basketball team from Loudoun Valley High School, Blue Ridge District School Board Representative Jill Turgeon, various Dr. Seuss characters, and other volunteers students went back to their classes to read.  All of the readers were given a Green Earth Book Award Book winner, “Not Your Typical Book About the Environment” to read in classes. The readers included the girls from the LVHS basketball teams along with:

  • Chris Puller, The Nature Generation–Middleburg Bank, Sustainable Partner
  • Kenny Jenkins, The Nature Generation–Luck Stone, Sustainable Partner
  • Katie Kosloski,  The Nature Generation–Luck Stone, Sustainable Partner
  • Karen Jimmerson, The Nature Generation, Chapman DeMary Trail Sponsor
  • Melody Ward, The Nature Generation–Jason Sengpiehl Allstate Insurance, Chapman DeMary Trail Sponsor
  • Teressa Reed, The Nature Generation–Jason Sengpiehl Allstate Insurance, Chapman DeMary Trail Sponsor
  • Amie Ware, The Nature Generation

 

Winner_Gold nottypical book about envir

“Not Your Typical Book About The Environment,” is a 2011 Children’s Nonfiction Green Earth Book Award winner written by Elin Kelsey. Click here to learn more about the books that receive our national stewardship book award.

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EnviroPlay

We recently lead a friendly EnviroPlay games competition with the 4th and 5th graders of the Culbert Green Crocs Club.  Special thanks to volunteers Mark Williams and Nancy Burton from Luck Stone who each lead a team.  Check out the photos that show how the students were waiting with great anticipation to see if they got the answer right. Team 2 won…they got all of the answers right. The groups worked together and sometimes they really worked hard to come up with the answers. Nancy and Mark both helped them think though when they seemed to be challenged, but didn’t give them the answers. There was a lot of enthusiasm, and Team 2 cheered very loudly every time they got the answer right.

Some feedback:

“I was so impressed by my 4th graders!  We read about bottles becoming fleece jackets, eating bugs in chocolate and macaroni & cheese (they loved that), saving fish and sea turtles by using canvas bags instead of plastic and saving gorillas in Africa by recycling video games and cell phones to cut back on coltan mining.  We discussed the information from each page and practical examples of how we can put that info into motion, e.g., using canvas bags, organizing a game swap at school and we even looked up the nearest electronics recycle center online. I’m encouraged by the interest they showed and how seriously they felt toward incorporating positive steps into their lives.”

– Teressa Reed, with Jason Sengpiehl’s Allstate Insurance Office in Purcellville (Chapman DeMary Trail Sponsor)

“The class that I read to was really into the book. One of the stories I read was on recycling plastic bottles, which can be used for making clothing. The kids really got a kick out of that one.”

– Chris Puller,  with Middleburg Bank, Sustainable Partner

“One of the pages I read from the “Not Your Typical Book About the Environment” was the one about bees. The students were surprised to learn that chocolate is one of the things that relies on bees. They were also surprised that one out of every three bites we eat is food that is pollinated by bees. I also read the pages Are Bottles for Drinking…or Wearing and students learned that fleece jackets can be made from recycled plastic bottles. After reading the pages called How Video Games and Cell Phones are Connected to Gorillas, we talked about how they might be able to start an effort at Culbert to recycle old cell phones to reduce coltan mining and save the habitat of some gorillas…and how amazing it is that something we do here can have an impact all the way across the world.”

Amie Ware, Teach Green Program Director, The Nature Generation

 

Taking Photos in Nature with your Smartphone

Early spring is a great time to capture nature as it begins to awaken. Look for the first shoots of bright spring green along riverbanks; budding leaves and flowers on trees, and snowdrops and primroses sprinkled in woods and gardens. Most of us use a smartphone camera to capture images — it’s easy to carry and produces decent quality photos. Here are a few tips to take it up a notch when taking shots of your friends, family, and nature.

Tip: Avoid direct sunlight

An overcast day is a perfect outdoor lighting situation for taking photographs. If it’s sunny, ask your subjects stand in bright shade. Try to get shots during the golden hour before and after sunrise and sunset – the sky is colorful enough for even a camera phone to capture land and sky with good exposure.

Tip: Shoot in landscape mode

Except for tall structures, images look much better in landscape orientation, especially when sharing on most social media platforms.

Tip: Clean Your Lens

The inside of your purses and pockets are not clean and lens gets dirty and smudged. Make it a routine to clean the front and back lens to avoid smudges and specks that will ruin your picture.

Tip: Use the grid lines option

rule of thirds

The built-in grid lines, which are placed in a tic-tac-toe format, break the image so you can apply the rule of thirds in your composition. Place strong lines and divisions on the grid lines and position elements of interest on the intersections.

Tip: Clean Your Lens

The inside of your purses and pockets are not clean and lens gets dirty. Make it a routine to clean the front and back lens to avoid smudges and specks that will ruin your picture.

Tip: Stabilize your camera

Hold the camera phone with both hands and brace your upper arms against your body when you shoot. This technique will give better results and sharper images.

Tip: Get Up close

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Try getting up close to show details or an interesting point of view.

Tip: Crop, don’t zoom

Because of optical zoom shortcomings in smartphones, it is best to take a photo from your camera with no zoom and then edit the image by cropping.

Tip: Ditch the Flash

Since the smartphone flash is so close to the lens, most images taken using it will have glare and unflattering light causing yellow skin, demon eyes and blur.

Tip: Shoot different angles and heights

black vulture

Make something ordinary look more interesting – take shots above looking down or from ground level looking up, or add surprise by creating a distortion or new angle.

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