Inspiring Environmental Stewards

Endangered Crops Species?!?

by Nancy Castaldo

It’s been many years since I was Nature Nancy, camp counselor, during my summers, but I still wear that hat when I write my books and those are still the faces I see reading them. I can remember the kids piling out of the buses from New York City to experience camp in the country. So much of what I introduced to them was new to them, like jewel weed and the Eastern box turtle that roamed around my cabin. We touched feathers and tried to identify which bird left them behind. We went on walks and listened to the sounds of squirrels scampering and birds calling. It was wonderful to see so many things through their eyes.

As I finished college, completed my science classes, and began writing, my focus was on endangered animals and protecting the environment. By the time, I had my own child and was a Girl Scout leader, I thought I was aware of most environmental issues. I had no idea I was in the dark about something so important. Fortunately, my daughter began working at a nearby farm and I wrote a book called Keeping Our Earth Green. Both brought my attention to a crisis of such magnitude that it would impact everyone. There were not just endangered animals, like pandas, wolves, and bald eagles. There are endangered crops species. Imagine not being able to go to the store and purchase a banana for your lunch or a sweet slice of watermelon. Seeds from many crops are being lost daily for a whole host of reasons, including climate change and modern farming methods.  How did I not know that this was happening, that we were losing our biodiversity so drastically? Why wasn’t it on the news daily?

I began to explore the topic and found that there were people all over the world working to save our plants, our crops, our food. It gave me hope!

Now, I wanted to share that with my young readers. I believe with all my heart that they are the people who can make a difference.

It took 8 years for this book to be published, but I was thrilled that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who published Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, would take the leap with me and publish this important story. This book was a journey, not only emotionally, but physically as I traveled as far away as Russia to research this global issue and step through the doors of the brave seed scientists who perished there protecting seeds during WWII.

When I visit schools, and talk to kids and teachers about the importance of our farming methods and food security I am never surprised that they are unaware of the risks that scientists and farmers alike are taking every day to put food on our tables.

I want readers of THE STORY OF SEEDS to know where their food comes from and how they can make choices that make a difference to the future of our food. Although this is a frightening subject, there is so much to be hopeful about. We can celebrate the growth of farmers’ markets and the choice of many heirloom varieties that contribute to our biodiversity. But, we have to remember that with any environmental crisis, it is the marginalized that are impacted the most and the choices we make do indeed have an impact.

I sometimes think about those kids that came to camp every day eager to discover the outdoors with Nature Nancy. They must have their own families now. I hope that they have passed on their curiosity and that they are still interested in the world around them.

Nancy Castaldo has written books about our planet for over 20 years.  Her 2016 title THE STORY OF SEEDS: From Mendel’s Garden to Your Plate, and How There’s More of Less To Eat Around The World introduces older readers to the importance of seeds, farming, and the crisis we currently face. It received the Green Earth Book Award and many other accolades.  Her latest is BEASTLY BRAINS: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel. Other books include Crystal Kite Award winner SNIFFER DOGS: How Dogs (and Their Noses) Save the World and MISSION POLAR BEAR RESCUE.  Her research has taken her all over the world from the Galapagos to Russia and she loves sharing her adventures with her readers. She has conducted programs at the Boston Children’s Museum, Atlanta Zoo, Tennessee Aquarium, among others and has spoken at the Science Teachers Association of New York State and New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Many of Nancy’s books have received recognitions, including an American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, a Smithsonian Notable Book For Children, a NSTA Outstanding Science Trade title, a Crystal Kite Award, Green Earth Book Award, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. In addition to these accolades, she was honored to be the recipient of the 2007 New York State Outdoor Education Association’s Art and Literature Award for the body of her work. As a long-time environmental educator, she treasures this honor and hopes to empower more children with her books about the Earth.



Click here to read other guest blogs.


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.

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:


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.




Earth Day 2017 Wrap-up

Photo Contest Winner

Congratulations, Janet Bienen!


Webinar: Closing the Gap in Environmental Literacy

Hosted by the Security and Sustainability Forum and sponsored by Cadmus and CSRA

Listen to our April 27 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) has 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.

Click here to listen to the recording.

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


2017 Green Earth Book Award Winners Announced

On Earth Day, we announced 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.

Click here to see the list of winners and honor book winners.


Children’s and Young Adult Literature Festival

This Earth Day we were also proud to participate in this year’s Festival in celebration of our dear friend, Dr. Ernie Bond.   We:

  • Donated 300+ books to the City of Salisbury programs that focus on promoting, celebrating and inspiring children and adults to read
  • Announced the winners of the 2017 Green Earth Book Award recognized
  • Hosted an environmental panel with past Green Earth Book Award-winners, Shelley Rotner, Karen Romano Young and Ali Benjamin


Plant for the Planet Trail Event

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.                 




People’s Climate Movement March On April 29

“We Are The Nature Generation” volunteers wearing “No Planet B” t-shirts showed their support for protecting the environment at the People’s Climate Movement march.

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.



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


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.

Best in Children’s Stewardship Books

We are proud to announce our long list for the 2017 national Green Earth Book Award, which we bestow annually to children’s and young adult literature that best convey the message of environmental stewardship.  Nearly 150 books were nominated this year in five categories: picture book, children’s fiction and nonfiction; and young adult fiction and nonfiction.

For the past 13 years, we’ve bestowed the award 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.

“This long list of environmental stewardship books helps bridge a gap in environmental literacy by providing educators, librarians and parents excellent, well-vetted choices to keep the love of nature—and the facts about the environment—in the forefront of kids’ imagination,” said The Nature Generation founder and president, Amy Marasco.

“When the facts of science—which must drive national environmental and energy policy—are not valued, how can that policy be effective? When the science of climate change is not recognized, how can we take necessary action? And when environmental data sets are erased from official government websites, how can we know and teach truth?” Marasco added. “Now, more than ever, these books can deliver the message that must to be heard by our young generation.”

The short list will be announced in late March with the Green Earth Book Award winners announced on Earth Day, April 22, 2017.

The Green Earth Book Award Long List:


  • Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus, and illustrated by Evan Turk (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
  • Circle, by Jeannie Baker (Candlewick Press)
  • Did Tiger Take the Rain?, by Charles Norris-Brown (Green Writers Press)
  • Finding Wild, by Megan Wagner Lloyd and illustrated by Abigail Halpin (Alfred A. Knopf BFYR, Random House Children’s Books)
  • Follow the Moon Home, by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, and illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle Books)
  • Gaia and the Golden Toad: A Tale of Climate Change, by Joan Muller (Mascot Books)
  • Green City, by Allan Drummond (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Green Is Good, by Elizabeth Gorcey and illustrated by Kajiah Jacobs (Bowie Books, LLC)
  • Greenling, Levi Pinfold (Candlewick Press)
  • Jake the Happy Trash Truck, written by Yvonne Osborne and Scott Osborne, and illustrated by Corbin Hillam (Crystal Publishing LLC)
  • Kenya’s Art, by Linda Trice and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell (Charlesbridge Publishing)
  • Mr. King’s Machine, by Geneviève Côté (Kids Can Press)
  • Mr. McGinty’s Monarchs, by Linda Vander Heyden and illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen (Sleeping Bear Press)
  • Prairie Dog Song, by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth, and illustrated by Susan L. Roth (LEE & LOW BOOKS)
  • Rainbow Weaver, Linda Elovitz Marshall and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri (Children’s Book Press/LEE & LOW BOOKS)
  • Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep, by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • The Lonely Giant, by Sophie Ambrose (Candlewick Press)
  • This is My Dollhouse, by Giselle Potter (Schwartz & Wade, Random House Children’s Books)
  • This Is the Earth, by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander, and illustrated by Wendell Minors (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Tokyo Digs a Garden, by John-Erik Lappano and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka (Groundwood Books)
  • Where’s the Elephant?, by Stephane-Yves Barroux (Candlewick Press)


  • Ace, King of My Heart, by Lea Herrick and illustrated by Nora Howell, Krystal Colon, and David Herrick (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform)
  • Maybe a Fox, by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee (Atheneum Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
  • Pax, by Sara Pennypacker and illustrated by Jon Klassen  (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
  • Saving Wonder, by Mary Knight (Scholastic Press)
  • The Wolf Keepers, by Elise Broach and illustrated by Alice Ratterree (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)


  • Broken Wing, by David Budbill (Green Writers Press)
  • Dig Too Deep, by Amy Allgeyer (Albert Whitman & Co)
  • KABOOM!, by Brian Adams (Green Writers Press)
  • Keep Her, by Leora Krygier (She Writes Press)
  • Rescued, by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic Press)
  • Up from the Sea, by Leza Lowitz (Crown BFYR, Random House Children’s Books)


  • A Home in the Biome:  A Home in a Coral Reef, by Louise and Richard Spilsbury (PowerKids Press, Rosen Publishing)
  • Ada’s Violin, by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
  • Adventures in Nature: Creepy-Crawlies, by Cath Senker (PowerKids Press, Rosen Publishing)
  • Adventures in Nature: Pond Wildlife, by Clare Hibbert (PowerKids Press, Rosen Publishing)
  • After A While Crocodile: Alexa’s Diary, by Dr. Brady Barr and Jennifer Keats Curtis, and illustrated by Susan Detwiler (Arbordale Publishing)
  • Animal Planet Chapter Books: Sharks!, by Lori Stein (Time Inc. Books)
  • Because of an Acorn, by Lola M. Schaefer and Adam Schaefer, and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Chronicle Books)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the American Bald Eagle, by Therese Shea (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the Endangered American Alligator, by Jeanne Nagle (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the Endangered Blue Whale, by Simone Payment (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the Endangered Gray Wolf, by Shalini Saxena (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the Endangered Green Sea Turtle, by Sarah Machajewski (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Conservation of Endangered Species: Saving the Endangered Grizzly Bear, by Justine Ciovacco (Britannica Educational Publishing)
  • Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet, by Nikki Tate (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Every Breath We Take: A Book About Air, by Maya Ajmera and Dominique Browning (Charlesbridge Publishing)
  • Grow! Raise! Catch!: How We Get Our Food, by Shelley Rotner (Holiday House)
  • Growing Peace, by Richard Sobol (Children’s Book Press/LEE & LOW BOOKS)
  • Journey, by Emma Bland Smith and illustrated by Robin James (Little Bigfoot, an imprint of Sasquatch Books)
  • Maggie the One-Eyed Peregrine Falcon: A True Story of Rescue and Rehabilitation, by Christie Gove-Berg (Adventure Publications)
  • Otters Love to Play, by Jonathan London and illustrated by Meilo So (Candlewick Press)
  • Pocket Change: Pitching in for a Better World, by Michelle Mulder (Orca Book Publishers)
  • Science Comics, Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, by Maris Wicks (First Second/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
  • Sea Otter Rescue, by Suzi Eszterhas (Owlkids)
  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea, by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raúl Colón (Simon & Schuster Paula Wiseman Books)
  • The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk, by Jan Thornhill (Groundwood Books)
  • Welcome to New Zealand: A Nature Guide, by Sandra Morris (Candlewick Press)


  • Hopping Ahead of Climate Change—Snowshoe Hares, Science, and Survival, by Sneed B. Collard III (Bucking Horse Books, distributed by Mountain Press)
  • Inside an Osprey’s Nest, by Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie (Schiffer Publishing)
  • Journey: The Amazing Story of Or-7, the Oregon Wolf That Made History, by Beckie Elgin (Inkwater Press)
  • The End of Life as We Know It: Climate Change, A Threat to All Life on Earth, by Lisa A. Wroble (Enslow Publishing)
  • The End of Life as We Know It: Drying Up, Running Out of Water, by Lisa A. Wroble (Enslow Publishing)
  • The End of Life as We Know It: Starving, by Lisa A. Wroble (Enslow Publishing)
  • The Great White Shark Scientist, by Sy Montgomery and photographed by Keith Ellenbogen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • The Story of Seeds, by Nancy Castaldo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

A shout out to Salisbury /university’s Dr. Patty Dean and Erin Stutelber, for receiving and vetting this year’s nominations.