Education Newsletter December/January 2021

As we began the 2020 school year, we leaned heavily on our ability to adapt. Educators, students, and staff around the country worked to adapt to new learning and teaching methods, lesson planning, and ways of interacting. Moving into 2021, we are shifting from our focus on adaptation to a focus on resilience. There are distinct parallels between wildlife and landscape resilience and humankind’s capacity to recover from life’s difficulties quickly. Join us on this journey as we share stories of resilience.


the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties

Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC)

Resilience is a multi-dimensional concept but is nothing new to students in a small group of schools in New York City. Since 2017 they have been participating in the RiSC program, a program educating youth in NYC schools about climate change science and climate impacts and natural and built solutions that increase climate resiliency. Using place as a foundation, students learn about and practice skills in areas such as coastal erosion and urban street trees and equity. Students hone their leadership and communication skills by speaking about climate change and their ideas for change. The RiSC program is growing and taking shape in Houston, Texas, as well as in the U.S. Virgin Islands through the National Wildlife Federation affiliate, the Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS). Staying grounded in place-based education, each program focuses on climate impacts and potential solutions unique to their locations. Download the free RiSC curriculum for middle and high school students, including modules on sea level rise, extreme heat, and climate justice.

Energy Pathway

As we move into January, our pathway focus will turn from Consumption & Waste to Energy Conservation. Both pathways have been adapted for Eco-Schools USA at Home. Check out the modules. Follow along on social media as we highlight learning opportunities and ways for students to take energy conservation action. Kick off the energy discussion by exploring the UN Sustainable Development Goals infographics for Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy.

Take Learning Outside

Did you know that December 5th is World Soil Day? Soil is an important topic for students to learn about not just on one day in December, but every day. This year’s World Soil Day campaign, “Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity,” is an evergreen topic, intersecting with both topics in Earth and life science. Soil management is critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems.

World Soil Day photo

Learn more today by exploring soil-related learning opportunities and lessons with these resources:

Discover New Resources

Since 2001, the National Wildlife Federation’s Atlanta-based Earth Tomorrow Program has served as a pathway for urban high school students to get involved with environmental issues in their local community, participate in leadership development, and advocate for social justice. Along with the Detroit Leadership and Environmental Education Program, these programs “are rooted in vulnerable communities that are most impacted by environmental justice issues but least represented within environmental decision-making venues.”

youth in garden

Over the summer, and despite the challenges of the pandemic, National Wildlife Federation staff from across the country came together to successfully carry on with the Earth Tomorrow Summer Series via an engaging virtual format. Youth from high school programs in Detroit, Atlanta, Niagara Falls, and Houston joined together to participate in four sessions scattered over a two week period. Themes included Project Planning of Change and Environmental Justice is Social Justice. Plus students were invited to participate in a virtual nature challenge in their own neighborhood or local park. Read more about how the Earth Tomorrow Virtual Summer Series Takes on Leadership, Social Justice, and Nature. Follow @EarthTomorrowAtlanta on Instagram to keep up with their latest program activities.

I wanted to make an impact on my community because I saw how nature wasn’t flourishing in my area, and I wanted to make a difference by learning skills and getting access to the resources that would help me.

~Earth Tomorrow Atlanta Alumni Julius

Learn About Wildlife

Winter is on its way, and for many, it brings an increased chance of snow and ice. In the December/January 2021 issue of Ranger Rick® magazine, students can have fun learning 10 Cool Things About Ice while also gaining knowledge about why sea ice is so important to wildlife like polar bears, walruses, and seals.

winter scene

Before students head off for winter break, share these fun ideas from Ranger Rick for things to do throughout the winter months. And don’t forget about the Ranger Rick® Nature Notebook pages, including the new In a Minute activity. Download it for free.

Virtual Green Opportunities

National Wildlife Federation

Grants | Award Opportunities

Other Free Resources & Opportunities