Inspiring Environmental Stewards

From Sea Turtles to Tiny Microbes: Sharing Environmental Stewardship in a Changing World

AntarcticLog8giant7.27.2017 by Karen Romano Young

Occasionally sea turtles get into trouble. Even in the nest they’re at risk: ants can dig through their shells and eat what’s inside, wild animals — or dogs — or people — might dig up their eggs for food. Once hatched, chances are low of reaching the ocean, thanks to confusion from lights or predation by gulls or crabs. And so much can happen at sea: entanglement, disease, disorientation that can lead to heading into cold waters.

How on earth can we stand to share this potential for tragedy with kids? By giving them hope. Not only can sea turtles withstand much of the trouble that finds them, but people are working internationally to smooth sea turtles’ paths — and kids can help.

I get a heart-swelling feeling when a book I’ve written about animals and the work people are doing to help them makes its way into kids’ hands.  I’m enormously proud that MISSION: SEA TURTLE RESCUE won the Green Earth Award.  Not only did the award lead me into classrooms to talk to students and teachers about sea turtles, but it led me to find more ways to tell such stories.

I’ve gone on to write books about other animals (WHALE QUEST, 2017 and SHARK SEEKERS, 2018, both from Twenty First Century Books).  Like MISSION: SEA TURTLE RESCUE, these books show kids not only what the lives of scientists and conservationists are like, but demonstrates how regular citizens — including kids — can get involved.

The Green Earth Award also inspired me to look for other ways to share ideas about stewardship of the environment with more people. My next project will take me to Antarctica, to study microbial communities with a group of scientists from Maine’s Bigelow Laboratory.  These microbes produce a chemical gas that’s involved in cloud formation. Not only are they important to the Antarctic environment, as the base of the food chain, but as the Antarctic climate changes them, clouds — and global weather — could change, too.

Maybe you can see the difference between this project and the ones I did before. More to the point, maybe you can’t see, because the microbes and the gas formation are pretty much invisible. How do you make a story out of THAT?

My answer is through science comics.  I began drawing and writing stories in a visual format while aboard the icebreaker Healy in 2010, when I accompanied a group of scientists who were studying ice levels in the Arctic. The story of walrus stranded and starving on beaches because the ice floes near their food source had melted shocked me — but I couldn’t use only words to tell such a tale. Comics helped — and when the comic found big audiences on the web, I decided to try more.

Now I’ve started AntarcticLog as a way to introduce the expedition I’ll be part of in March – May 2018. It’s early, but the hunger for climate change stories has already helped it find readers.

I hope the Nature Generation audience will look for my new work, both in books and in comics.  You can follow #AntarcticLog on Twitter or look for @AntarcticLog on Instagram.  My website has a slideshow updated with new comics each week:  www.karenromanoyoung.com/antarctic-log.

Thanks to the Nature Generation for your support and inspiration. And thanks to everyone who works to understand, care for, and bring hope to our changing, beautiful Earth.

Karen Romano Young won the 2016 Green Earth Book Award for Children’s Non-Fiction for Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue. She is a science expert and speaks to schools all over the country. She has written numerous fiction and nonfiction books for children, including Doodlebug, Hundred Percent,  the Science Fair Winners series and Try This!: 50 Fun Experiments for the Mad Scientist in You.  Karen worked at Scholastic News, and wrote for Cricket, National Geographic World, and the Guinness Book of World Records. She was involved in the extreme research journey the University of Delaware takes to the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and spent a month at sea on the R/V Atlantis and dove to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine called Alvin.

 

The “Green” Tourist

Summer is a great time to get out of town and take a break from the stresses of our everyday lives. Wherever you go, try going “green” to give the environment a break, too.

  • You can begin even before you leave home, by turning your water heater and air conditioner to low settings. Unplug appliances like TVs — they use up to 40 watts per hour even when turned off!  Also try to pack light. Hauling extra baggage uses more fuel whether you are traveling by car or plane. Remember to pack reusable water bottles.
  •  If you are taking a road trip, get your car tuned. A well-tuned car with properly inflated tires uses less fuel because it runs more efficiently — and will keep your family safer. Save more fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by driving at a steady speed and turning off the car at pit stops.
  • When flying, choose a non-stop flight for the best fuel efficiency. When you arrive, use public transportation, share a cab or rent an economy or hybrid car to get around.
  • It’s natural to want to pamper ourselves while on vacation; we work hard for our time off. Try to temper this mindset during your hotel stay by reusing your towels and sheets, keeping the AC at a reasonable temperature, taking shorter showers, turning off the lights and leaving those over-packaged little bottles of shampoo behind.
  It is a great feeling to know that while you are creating lasting memories with your children, you are also teaching them how to have a lasting, positive impact on the environment.

The Art of Looking

July 24,2017:  by Loree Griffin Burns

Years ago, as part of a science project I dreamed up for my homeschooling family, my three kids and I recorded as many animals as we could find on our one-acre patch of suburban lawn, scrub and driveway. What we found changed us.

The idea was simple: for nine months, one school year, we photographed every beetle, butterfly, earthworm, salamander, chickadee and tomcat that lived on or passed through our yard. We planned to separate the animals we found into categories visually, and so begin to understand the science of biological classification.  It was a fun exercise, and I was thrilled when the kids made the intellectual leap from phyla and species to the concept of evolution. Educational mission accomplished. But so much more than a science lesson happened that year. Sure, I was surprised by the wide variety of animals we encountered, and by how engaged my kids became in the process of looking for them. But what really shocked me—knocked me upside the head, actually—was how the art of looking deepened our connection to the place we lived.

How long had that groundhog lived under the shed, and how could we not have known it? Had walking sticks always crawled over the oak in the side yard?  Why had I never looked for paw prints in new fallen snow? And had the kids not taught me this trick, would I ever have met the porcupine that dines in the old pine? Who knew the orange butterflies flitting in and out of our spring and summer days represented such an array of species, and how many had we overlooked before we began to pay attention?  Was it wrong to feel such deep and passionate love for the black bear our neighbors were so unhappy about?

There were other lessons in looking, too. We learned to move so slowly that butterflies didn’t notice us lift a camera. We walked around our yard with no destination in mind, studying dirt and leaves, running our fingers over tree bark. We pet flower petals, and then explored the worlds underneath them. We lay on the ground, side-by-side and for so long that an observer would think we’d fallen asleep, listening for clues to animals our eyes couldn’t see. We flushed frogs from mulch piles, tracked slugs, and stumbled onto treasures previously unknown: the hanging wonder of a vireo nest (made with the silver papers of an abandoned wasp nest), the shiny perfection of a butterfly egg (or was it a moth egg?), the shocking call of a pileated woodpecker (surpassed only by the shocking sight of the bird itself).

Coming to know the animals that shared our yard was to contemplate wonder … and it was an invitation to acknowledge how dependent those animals were on how we treated their home, our home. The experience slowed us down, opened our eyes to things we hadn’t realized we’d been overlooking, and ignited a deeper passion for the place in which we lived. Taking stock of the flora and fauna of Hosmer Street rooted us there in a way that ten years of calling it ‘home’ hadn’t done.  And after a year, when I sprang on my homeschoolers the punchline to our project—we had dipped a pinky toe into the pool of Animals that claimed this acre, but what about the Plants? And the Fungi? What of the Protists and the Monera?—they had fully embraced their roles as caretakers and natural historians of our little patch of this Earth.

In the years since that homeschool adventure, a lot has changed. For one thing, we’ve moved from our beloved place on Hosmer Street. And this fall, two of my three porcupine trackers will head off to college. But recording flora and fauna has become a habit, and it continues to connect us. I keep a notebook in my office, in which I record the date the red-winged blackbirds return, the first-of-the-season butterfly, and generally track Life at our new place. It’s not unusual for one of the kids to call me into the yard to see a weird beetle, or text me blurry images of ladybugs, or to leave detailed directions to a moth they spotted under the porch lights when they got home the night before, long after Mom was asleep. We’re not formal about our record-keeping anymore (well, unless you count my newfound obsession with iNaturalist), but we’re relentless about looking. No matter where we live, together or apart, in the country or in the city, at home or abroad, I think we always will be.

 

Biographical information:

Loree Griffin Burns wrote the book CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: BE A PART OF DISCOVERY FROM YOUR OWN BACKYARD (Holt, 2012), a Green Earth Book Award winner, with a lot of help from her kids. You can follow the flora and fauna of her life on Instagram (@loreegriffinburns), and read more about her work at www.loreeburns.com.  Her next book, LIFE ON SURTSEY, ICELAND’S UPSTART ISLAND (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) will be released in November.

 

 

Loree Griffin Burns wrote the book CITIZEN SCIENTISTS: BE A PART OF DISCOVERY FROM YOUR OWN BACKYARD (Holt, 2012), a 2013 Children’s Non-Fiction Green Earth Book Award winner, with a lot of help from her kids. You can follow the flora and fauna of her life on Instagram (@loreegriffinburns), and read more about her work at www.loreeburns.com.  Her next book, LIFE ON SURTSEY, ICELAND’S UPSTART ISLAND (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) will be released in November.

 

These are the pictures the Burns’ took during the year they recorded the flora and fauna of Hosmer Street.  Also included is cover of the book they created that year. (© The Burns Family)

 

Why environmental education matters

Environmental Education is Critically Needed

As new rules and regulations threaten to roll back environmental protections, here’s a couple of reasons why environmental education (EE) and your commitment to support it matters more than ever:

  • EE transforms lives and society. It informs and inspires. It influences attitudes. It motivates action. It has the power to help individuals, communities, and organizations learn more about the environment, and develop skills and understanding about how to address global challenges.

Our Green Earth Book Award winning books equip students with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to be stewards of the environment with themes that include the key benefits that North American Association for Environmental Education consider critical:

– examine and clarify their values about and attitudes toward the environment, including the natural world and the human-built environment;

– build skills to address environmental and social issues; and

– undertake behaviors that help protect the environment and work toward a more sustainable future.

To read more, go to: https://naaee.org/about-us/about-ee-and-why-it-matters

  • Our kids aren’t prepared. In a global study of young people’s knowledge, skills and attitudes in nearly 60 countries, the U.S. scored below average for their counterparts in developed countries. 17.1% of American students reached highest proficiency level, compared to 30.9% of students in Finland score, 28.4 % of Japanese students, and 26.3% of Canadian students).

With over 100 winning books in the Green Earth Book Award library, along with the support we give to schools and students with environmental projects, we are committed to helping the U.S. number go up – we are teaching kids across the nation that they have the power and knowledge to protect the environment – both now and in the future.

Learn more about the state of environmental literacy at the National Environmental Education Foundation: https://www.neefusa.org/environmental-literacy-report

The good news:

 

These kids are talking about award winner "Hey, Not Your Typical Book About The Environment" in our new video.

Donate today so we can inspire even more kids to care about the planet!


 

 

Great Beach Reads

Heading to the beach?   Here are some great Green Earth Book Award winning books that feature the ocean – perfect beach read!

Follow the Moon Home, Philippe Cousteau &  Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So Saving South Carolina sea turtles (2017 Picture Book winner, ages 5-8)

The Stranded Whale Jane Yolen, illustrated by Melanie Cataldo A child’s effort to rescue a beached whale (2016 Picture Book winner, ages 5-9)

The Eye of the Whale, Jennifer O’Connell The rescue of a whale found tangled in trap lines (2014 Picture Book winner, ages 5-10)

The Sea, the Storm and the Mangrove Tangle, Lynne Cherry Children learn to protect endangered mangroves (2005 Childrens fiction winner, ages 5 and up)

Crane Boy, Diana Cohn; illustrated by Youme (2016 Honor Picture Book winner, ages 6-10)

All the Way to the Ocean, Joel Harper; illustrated by Marq Spusta (2007 Children’s Fiction honor winner, ages 5-10)

The World That We Want, Kim Michelle Toft (2006 Children’s Fiction honor winner)

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin After a tragedy, Suzy travels the globe in search of answers and gets a closer look at nature and science (2016 Children’s Fiction winner, ages 10 and up)

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly  Richly imagined novel with themes of conquering fear, and humans’ environmental impact on the sea and its inhabitants (2015 Children’s Fiction winner, ages 5-9)

One White  Dolphin by Gill Lewis  Story of friendship and community taps into the radiance of nature and explores timely environmental issues (2013 Children’s Fiction winner, ages 8-12)

Wild Wings by Gill Lewis,  illustrated by Yuta Onoda Iona McNair is desperate to keep the endangered osprey bird safe from poachers  (2012 Children s Fiction winner, ages 8-12)

Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, Maris Wicks An absorbing look at ocean science covers the
biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance (2017 Children’s Nonfiction winner, ages 9-13)

Mission: Sea Turtle Rescue, Karen Romano Young and Daniel Raven-Ellison Provides in-depth information about the habitats,
challenges and successes of sea turtles, so kids can take action to help save these amazing endangered creatures (2016 Children’s Nonfiction winner, ages 10 and up)

Plastic Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Patricia Newman,; illustrated by Annie Crawley  Follows three female scientists a small research ship learning  about the impact of the Garbage Patch on marine life (2015 Children’s nonfiction winner, ages 8-12)

The Beast of Cretacea, Todd Strasser This futuristic retelling of Moby Dick is an environmental cautionary tale about a dying Earth  (2016 Young Adult Fiction winner, ages 12 and up)

Washashore, Suzanne Goldsmith Clem finds a fallen bird and finds a role for herself helping to bring back endangered birds (2014 Young Adult Fiction winner, ages 11 and up)

Flush, Carl Hiassen Young adults discover dangers caused by a boat dumping raw sewage into the Florida Keys (2006 Young Adult Fiction winner, ages 11 and up)

Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Young Adult Fiction honor, ages 12 and up)

Secret of the Sirens, Julia Golding (2008 Young Adult Fiction honor, ages 10 and up)

Inside an Osprey’s Nest, Teena Ruark Gorrow & Craig A. Koppie (2017 Young Adult Fiction honor, age 12-21)

 

I’m Bored!

Parents, caregivers and babysitters hear “I’m bored” every summer, so we’ve compiled a list of books that will engage readers ages 3 -18 (adults like them, too) and take the edge off summer tedium.

Some books are guides on how to get outside and explore nature, others tell compelling stories of the heroic efforts young protagonists take to protect the earth.  All of them offer a glimpse of the beauty and wonders of nature and are guaranteed to pique interest!

Head to the library or bookstore (or download online), find a comfy spot (preferably outside in a hammock, under a tree, or near a stream or ocean), and let one of these Green Earth Book Award-winning books inspire your imagination!

 

For Younger Readers:

FollowTheMoonHome_CVR

Follow the Moon Home, Philippe Cousteau &  Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So

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. Ages 4-8 (fiction)See the video trailer.

earth book parr The Earth Book, Todd Parr

With his signature blend of playfulness and sensitiviy, Todd Parr explores the important, timely subject of environmental protection and conservation in this eco-friendly picture book. Featuing a circular die-cut Earth on the cover, and printed entirely with recycled materials and nontoxic soy inks, this book includes lots of easy, smart ideas on how we can all work together to make the Earth feel good – from planting a tree and using both sides of the paper, to saving energy and reusing old things in new ways.  Ages 3-6 (nonfiction).  Watch Todd read his book here.

10 things i can do to help my world 10 Things You Can Do to Help the Earth, Melanie Walsh

Do you remember to turn off the tap while you brush your teeth? How about using both sides of the paper when writing and drawing? Or planting seeds and nurturing the new plants as they grow? Bold, child-friendly illustrations and die-cut pages will draw even the youngest listeners to this gentle reminder of the easy, everyday ways we can be kinder to the earth.  Ages 3-6 (nonfiction).  Click here for an activity sheet to go with the book.

compost Garbage Helps our Garden Grow: A Compost Story, Linda Glaser and Shelley Rotner

What is that garbage doing next to the garden? It’s not garbage. It’s compost! Amazing things happen inside a compost bin. In go banana peels, grass clippings, and even an old jack-o’-lantern. Out comes compost. The compost goes into the garden to make the soil rich for new plants. Compost is good for the earth. Composting also helps us make less garbage. In this book, you can watch as one family makes compost for their garden and also learn how to start your very own compost bin!  Ages 5-8 (nonfiction).  Preview the book here.

Image result for uno's garden Uno’s Garden, Graeme Base

Interwoven with hidden images and mathematical problems (and solutions!), this book that can be read over and over, and at different levels for different ages.  When Uno arrives in the forest one beautiful day, there are many fascinating and extraordinary animals there to greet him—and one entirely unexceptional Snortlepig. Uno loves the forest so much, he decides to live there. But, in time, a little village grows up around his house. Then a town, then a city . . . and soon Uno realizes that the animals and plants have begun to disappear.  Ages 1-8 (fiction).

 

For Middle Years:

jkt_9780545828932.pdf Saving Wonder, Mary Knight

Having lost most of his family to coal mining accidents as a little boy, Curley Hines lives with his grandfather in the Appalachian Mountains of Wonder Gap, Kentucky. Ever since Curley can remember, Papaw has been giving him a word each week to learn and live. Papaw says words are Curley’s way out of the holler, even though Curley has no intention of ever leaving. When a new coal boss takes over the local mining company, life as Curley knows it is turned upside down. Does he use his words to speak out against Big Coal and save his mountain, or does he remain silent and save his way of life?  A rich, lyrical, and utterly transporting tale about friendship, the power of words, and the difficult hurdles we must overcome for the people and places we love. Ages 8-12 (fiction).

Kid'sGuideFrontCover1200px The Kid’s Guide to Exploring Nature, edited by Sarah Schmidt, illustrated by Laszlo Veres
This gorgeously illustrated guide will inspire kids to look closely at the world around them! Created by the experts at the renowned Brooklyn Botanic Garden, it teaches children how to observe environments as a naturalist does and leads them on 24 adventures that reveal the complex ecosystems of plants and animals in the woods, at the beach, and in a city park. Detailed, scientifically based drawings help young scientists identify hundreds of North American plants and animals, while dozens of fun projects include keeping a journal, conducting field experiments, and exploring nature while using  all five senses. Ages 8-12 (nonfiction).
Science Comics Science Comics: Coral Reefs, Cities of the Ocean, Maris Wicks

This gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views coral reefs. Whether you’re a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty-year-old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you!  Learn all about these tiny, adorable sea animals! 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.  Ages 9-13 (nonfiction).

Pocket Change Pocket Change, Pitching in for a Better World, Michelle Mulder

Until a few hundred years ago, people were embarrassed to buy bread in a store. Families took pride in making almost everything they owned. These days, many people take pride in buying as much as possible! But we use resources equivalent to nearly one and a half Earths, and we’re still not meeting everyone’s needs. Around the world, people are questioning consumerism, leaning toward more sustainable lifestyles and creating a new concept of wealth. 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! Ages 8-12 (nonfiction).

true-blue-scouts-of-sugar-man-swamp-9781442421080_hr The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt

Raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. They serve Sugar Man—the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp—an honor, and also a big responsibility. Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn loves the swamp something fierce, and he’ll do anything to help protect it.  And help is needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn Sugar Man swamp into an Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, and the troubles don’t end there. There is also a gang of wild feral hogs on the march, headed straight toward them all.  This s story of care and conservation was selected as a National Book Award finalist, and is funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud. Ages 8-12 (fiction).

 

For Teens:

DigTooDeep_CVR Dig Too Deep, Amy Allgeyer

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. 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—though officials claim it is safe. And when Granny’s lingering cold turns out to be something worse, Liberty wonders if somebody at the mine is hiding the truth about the water. As she investigates, she is soon plunged into a world of secrets, lies, threats, and danger. Ages 13 and up (fiction).

storySeeds The Story of Seeds, Nancy Caltado

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 it is 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. An empowering book calls young adult readers to action with suggestions how to preserve the variety of our most valuable food sources through simple everyday actions. Readers will enjoy the depth and fascinatingly intricate social economy of seeds. Ages 12-17 (nonfiction).

InsideanOsprey'sNestFrontCover Inside an Osprey’s Nest, Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie

Take a photographic journey through nesting season with a newly mated osprey pair. In this raptor adventure, the ospreys prepare a nest and mate, but their eggs do not hatch. Through a 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. Watch as the helpless chicks grow into fledglings and experience first flight. Resources include the osprey’s current plight, tips for helping injured ospreys, and a glossary of terms.  Teena and Craig also won a Green Earth Book Award for Inside a Bald Eagles Nest: A Photographic Journey. Ages 13 and up (nonfiction).

Rescued Rescued, Eliot Schrefer

Raja has been raised in captivity. Not behind the bars of a zoo, but 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.  To John, the orangutan was his friend, his brother — never his pet. But when his parents split up and move across the country, he must save Raja and confront his fractured family and the captivity he’s imposed on himself all of these years.  Eliot Schrefer’s novel, Endangered was also a Green Earth Book Award winner.  Ages 12-17 (fiction).

Image result for the beast of cretacea The Beast of Cretacea, Todd Strasser

When seventeen-year-old Ishmael wakes up from stasis aboard the Pequod, he is amazed by how different this planet is from the dirty, dying, Shroud-covered Earth he left behind. But Ishmael isn’t on Cretacea to marvel at the fresh air, sunshine, and endless blue ocean. He’s here to hunt down ocean-dwelling beasts and send back to the resource-depleted Earth. Even though easy prey abounds, crews are ordered to ignore it in order to pursue the elusive Great Terrafin. It’s rumored that the ship’s captain, Ahab, lost his leg to the beast years ago, and that he’s consumed by revenge. Dark secrets and dangerous exploits swirl around the pursuit of the beast, and Ishmael must do his best to survive—if he can. Ages 12 and up (fiction).

 

 

Click here for a pdf of all Green Earth Book Award winners since 2005!

Hundreds of Kids Get Eco-Books

Thanks to our generous donors, we were able to donate hundreds of books to under-served kids during Salisbury University’s Children’s and Young Adult Literature Festival.  The annual festival celebrates environmental literature, connects authors to kids through school visits and presentations, and provides a forum for University teachers-in-training to learn about environmental literature and how to best use it in the classroom.

During the festival, we presented hundreds of books to Andrea Berstler on behalf of the City of Salisbury’s Book Festival, a 2-month series of events inspiring children and adults to read.

This year’s festival gave tribute to SU professor and Green Earth Book Award founder and committee chair Dr. Ernie Bond, who passed away last year. The Nature Generation announced the winners of the 2017 Green Earth Book Award and enjoyed an environmental panel featuring past Green Earth Book Award winning authors Shelley Rotner, Karen Romano Young, and Ali Benjamin.  Future grads researched Green Earth Book Award winners and then presented posters on their findings, see below for examples of a few.

Special thanks to the authors who participated, and SU’s Dr. Patty Dean, Shanetia Clarke, and Erin Stutelberg and Laura Marasco for helping us reach the next generation of environmental stewards by participating on our panels and helping us select amazing books!

 

30 Ways to Keep Your Water Clean

Did you know?

  • The United States has 3.5 million miles of river to protect and enjoy.
  • 1 out of 3 people in the U.S. gets their drinking water from a river or stream.
  • Of the 1,200+ species listed as threatened or endangered, 50% depend on rivers and streams

Rivers supply our drinking water; irrigate our crops; power our cities; support fish and other aquatic species; and provide countless recreational and commercial opportunities. In celebration of National Rivers Month, here’s a list of  including fixing leaky faucets, cleaning up after pets, installing rain barrels.

30 easy actions you can take to keep your streams clean:

  1. Only rain belongs in the drain- don’t dump anything in your sewers you wouldn’t drink.
  2. Use a sponge and bucket instead of a hose when washing your car – and try to wash it on a permeable surface.
  3. Water your yard first thing in the morning.
  4. Don’t overwater your lawn.
  5. Install rain sensors on irrigation systems.
  6. Install a rain barrel for outdoor watering.
  7. Plant a rain garden for catching storm water runoff from your roof, driveway, and other hard surfaces.
  8. Use lawn or garden chemicals sparingly.
  9. Mow your lawn less often.
  10. Sweep your sidewalks instead of hosing them down.
  11. Plant native, low maintenance plants and grasses.
  12. Minimize the amount of ice-melt you use.
  13. Consider minimizing impervious surfaces like bricks, gravel, natural stone or permeable pavers around your home.
  14. Do not drain your pool, spa, or fountain to a storm drain.
  15. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  16. Take a shower instead of a bath.
  17. Only run the washing machine and dishwasher when you have a full load.
  18. Use high-efficiency washing machines.
  19. Wash your clothes in the correct load size—with cold water.
  20. Use a low flow shower head and faucet aerators.
  21. Fix leaks.
  22. Install a dual flush or low flow toilet or put a conversion kit on your existing toilet.
  23. Upgrade your water heating systems, including water heater, pumps and pipes.
  24. Monitor your water usage on your water bill and ask your local government about a home water audit.
  25. Keep your car well-maintained.
  26. Keep your septic system well-maintained to prevent leaks.
  27. Walk, bike, or share a ride when possible.
  28. Participate in a stream or river clean up near you.
  29. Share your water saving through conservation and efficiency tips with your neighbors.
  30. Teach your kids how to be good stewards.

 

Volunteers test for pollution in the South Fork Cactoctin Creek at Water Quality Day on the Chapman DeMary Trail.

It was a beautiful early summer day for The Nature Generation’s annual Water Quality Day at the Chapman DeMary Trail! Citizen scientists enthusiastically helped experts catch and count creek creatures–benthic macrointervetbrates- which helps determine the health of the creek. People learned about how much energy it takes to clean water with the Loudoun County Public Schools Energy Education team, turned in plastic bags to trail sponsor Maid Brigade to be recycled into a bench, learned about trees and water quality from the Loudoun County Tree Stewards, purchased native plants for their own gardens from Watermark Woods; and learned about trends in water quality at the South Fork Catoctin Creek from Josh McGhee, a college student who conducted an analysis of the data collected in the past few years.

One of the two groups working with the benthic macroinvertebrates used an app developed through the Audubon Naturalist Society to help identify the critters. After identifying them, that information was used to help determine the health of the creek, which was great. You can download this free app on your smart phone through the Apple App store of Google Play. Look for Creek Critters. It is fun and easy to use, and helps track these creatures which are a great way to understand the health of our waterways.

Thank you also to all of the experts and organizations, including Gem Bingol with the Piedmont Environmental Council, Gregg Triling with the Audubon Naturalist Society, David Manning with Loudoun Wildife Conservancy, Sarah Alli with Loudoun Watershed Watch; Loudoun County Tree Stewards; Loudoun County Public Schools Energy Education Team; Maid Brigade and Watermark Woods. Thank you also to our special guests Josh McGhee, Debi McGhee, Nancy Reaves, and Patti Yarbrough. Thank you also our trail partners: Piedmont Environmental Council, Loudoun Valley High School, and the Town of Purcellville.

 

 

 

Advice on how to make your kids eco smart

The key to preparing students for a sustainable future, according to education experts from our “Closing the Environmental Literacy Gap” webinar, including Louisa Koch (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Kevin Coyle (National Wildlife Federation), is to integrate environmental learning into all subjects, consistently, throughout K-12.  By doing so, all students will have knowledge on how they are integral in protecting the planet and they also will learn the value of contributing to society.

We need not only well trained scientists to help us with environmental practices, but also an informed and motivated citizenry to help us make smart choices moving forward.

Here are some tactics many schools are taking to prepare students for the environmental challenges they’ll be facing in the future:

  • Becoming a certified Green School
  • Planting school gardens
  • Offering after school eco-clubs
  • Requiring community service relating to nature (i.e. water testing, tree planting)
  • Taking field trips in nature
  • Prepping their educators to teach the environment
  • Infusing environmental learning in all subjects
  • Using the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Ranking high in math and science
  • Creating environmental career and tech education paths

What can parents do?

  • Encourage your schools to adapt the practices above.
  • Get your family outside—nothing nurtures stewardship more than falling in love with nature.  Go in your backyard, to a park, along a path.  Click here for activities you can do along the way.
  • Teach your kids the facts about science, nature and the environment with a Green Earth Book Award winning fiction book; or give them a nonfiction winner that feeds their imaginations on how to protect our planet. Click here for a list of eco-books for kids of all ages.
  • Help them excel in science and math.
  • Expose them to different kinds of jobs and real world experiences.

 

Click here to hear a recording of the webinar.

During this April 27 webinar, experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and Uniondale Public Schools in New York joined 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

Thank you to the Security and Sustainability Forum and to Emily Walton (The Excalibur Group) for making the webinar possible.

 
THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS SPONSORS
 

 

 

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.

 

 Science Comics jkt_9780545828932.pdf
FollowTheMoonHome_CVR DigTooDeep_CVR
Be the Change high res Green City high res
Rescued InsideanOsprey'sNestFrontCover
Pocket Change

 

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