Education Newsletter Winter 2022

Hello, from the National Wildlife Federation’s Education Team

Across the country, the National Wildlife Federation’s education program leaders, educators, and students are finding creative ways to engage their communities and work toward a just and equitable world. In this issue, you’ll read about Earth Tomorrow Atlanta’s yearly MLK Day of Service celebration at an urban forest with a unique history. Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, students are raising Chinook salmon eggs in their very own classrooms, creating a lifelong relationship with wildlife and conservation while also learning about the importance of salmon to local Indigenous tribes. 

We are also excited about the upcoming NWF EcoCareers Conference happening in April. Follow us on Instagram @nwfecoleaders or @nwfeducation for up-to-date information.

Jennifer Brown, Digital Content Manager NWF’s Education & Engagement

We hope you enjoy these stories from the field. Stay tuned for our next quarterly newsletter in May!

— Jennifer Brown
Digital Content Manager NWF’s Education & Engagement

MLK Day: It’s a Day On, Not a Day Off

Observed every year on the third Monday of January, the MLK Day of Service is dubbed nationwide as “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” It is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, and people around the country spend the day working to better their community.

Almost thirty years after officially being designated a federal holiday, the Earth Tomorrow program, which just celebrated its twentieth anniversary, continues to honor the mantra “A Day On, Not a Day Off.” This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they attended a day of service hosted by the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance located at the Outdoor Activity Center (OAC) in southwest Atlanta. Lauryn Grant, an Education and Engagement intern for the National Wildlife Federation’s Atlanta office, attended the event and shared her story with us.

Bat Boxes & Baseball

volunteers install bat boxes

“Volunteers had the opportunity to work on the 26-acre urban forest throughout the morning and early afternoon. The event initially had over 300 volunteers registered; however, some of the volunteers canceled due to the anticipation of ice on the roads (and we’re not used to that in Atlanta!). Regardless, the service day continued with a group of dedicated and determined volunteers. 

As one of the volunteers, I had the opportunity to work with Brendon Barclay, the Manager of Education and Engagement for Earth Tomorrow at the National Wildlife Federation. We had the task of installing bat boxes in a field that were once the practice grounds of the historic baseball team, the Atlanta Black Crackers. The team would use this field, now owned and maintained by the OAC, to prepare for mostly minor league games in the Negro League.

To complete our task, it took Brendon’s son, Earth Tomorrow student Bryce Barclay, scaling up a ladder to install the bat boxes. These newly installed bat boxes will give bats a safe environment to care for their young. We also helped with trail maintenance, clearing a trail so that it was more visible to everyone who enjoys walking the different paths found in the urban forest. 

volunteers on MLK Service Day

One of the highlights was a surprise visit by Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff! Senator Ossoff took time out of his busy schedule to visit the center in honor of the service day. Despite the cold weather and the early hours, volunteers still showed up and we were still able to accomplish so much. I enjoyed the opportunity to help the OAC and to honor Dr. King by volunteering. It was a great experience that I won’t forget.”

Interested in supporting the Earth Tomorrow program? Donate today! You can also follow them on Instagram @nwfearthtomorrow.

Free the Fry: Fourth Graders Foster Fish

As part of the Eco-Schools USA Salmon Stewards program, over 70 fourth graders from Chehalem Elementary School in Beaverton, Oregon, fostered 300 Chinook salmon for two months in classroom aquariums. After rearing the fish from egg to fry stage and learning about the salmon life cycle, watershed health, and cultural significance to local Indigenous tribes, students were excited to free the fry into their natural habitat! 

On January 4th, the National Wildlife Federation and its Oregon affiliate, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders, joined partners Clean Water Services and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for the salmon fry release event along the Tualatin River. Educational stations provided an opportunity for fun and exploration through a salmon migration activity, an interpretive walk through the woods, and investigating macroinvertebrates.

Setting Salmon Free

Despite wintry weather and worries of the usual Pacific Northwest downpour, the forecast held, and students got to enjoy exploring the natural area as they scampered between activity stations. Warm apple cider and hot chocolate were also a hit! The event’s impact was especially felt when many educators and students shared that this was their first-ever field trip experience due to the pandemic. Chehalem Elementary is a Title 1 school, one of five in the Portland-Metro area funded by the NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde through their Spirit Mountain Community Fund.

“The best part of the day was witnessing the excitement on students’ faces when they released their salmon fry – the same fry that they’ve been diligently fostering for months in a classroom aquarium — then finally freeing them into the wild.”

Morgan Parks, National Wildlife Federation Oregon Education Manager

In attendance were National Wildlife Federation staff members Erin Farris-Olsen, the new Regional Executive Director for the Northern Rockies, Prairies & Pacific Region; Morgan Parks, Oregon Education Manager; Gray Sorensen, AmeriCorps member; and volunteers from the Tualatin Valley Chapter of NW Steelheaders including President Tom VanderPlaat and education lead LeRoy Schultz.

Emerging Environmental Leaders

The National Wildlife Federation’s EcoLeaders Online Community and Career Center is a project-based leadership and career development program for high school and college students and early career professionals. Designed to help emerging environmental leaders turn their passion into a profession EcoLeaders provides opportunities for:

  • Exploring a wide variety of environmental topics
  • Learning about green career opportunities
  • Pursuing project-based leadership certifications
  • Connecting with fellow environmental justice leaders across the country

“I was able to see from the EcoLeaders program how many people out there were doing sustainability projects everywhere. It helped me realize that these aren’t isolated projects; it’s one big movement working for the betterment of our planet and our future.”

National Wildlife Federation EcoLeader Amira Odeh

EcoCareers Conference 2022

Ecocareers conference banner

Don’t miss out on their upcoming EcoCareers Conference. This online annual meeting facilitates the development of personalized sustainability career plans, connects young leaders with employers, and sharpens job skills.