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Earth Tracks Newsletter April 2024


The 2024 City Nature Challenge is April 26-29. This event is a global effort to celebrate and document biodiversity in communities across the globe by discovering and recording the species found in our yards, neighborhoods, parks, sidewalks and open spaces. Participate by: STEP 1: Mark your calendar to get outside April 26 - 29. STEP 2: Download the free iNaturalist app ( and create an account. STEP 3: Take photos of WILD plants, animals and/or fungi. STEP 4: Upload your observations (photos) to the iNaturalist app or website to share with the iNaturalist community. Visit for more details. In Ada County, contact Kristin Gnojewski,, 208-608-7609, or sign up to be a volunteer.

Help needed for ground nesting bee project. A group of researchers from the Entomology Department at Cornell University is seeking to promote local community-driven research and conservation for aggregations of ground-nesting bees. To accomplish this aim, they have built a community science project, “Project GNBee”, focused on mapping aggregations of diverse ground-nesting bees. Your help is integral to this project’s continued success. See further details at their website: and on iNaturalist: and Instagram: Direct any questions to  

Seeking teachers to test and review IdEEA’s draft climate curriculum. Our IdEEA Fellows have completed their drafts of an Idaho-specific climate curriculum based on the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment. We’re looking for teachers to pilot these lessons before the end of the school year and provide important feedback before the curriculum is presented at the Idaho STEM Conference in August. If you are able to test and review one or more lessons, please email for details.

Professional Workshops

New PD course from Take Me Outside and The Outdoor Learning StoreThis comprehensive 30 hour online course will certify K-12 educators in integrating outdoor learning into their teaching practice. This certification program will provide the foundations of outdoor, environmental and place-based pedagogies with practical and tangible resources at the ready.

Free Spring Series of 6 x 60 minute Outdoor Learning Virtual Workshops are now live! These 6 free workshops bring together 19 amazing presenters & partners

April 16: The Wonders of Water: Practical Ideas and Resources for Educators

April 23: Invasive Species Education and Action

April 30: Developing a Sense of Place by Sparking Curiosity and Wonder

May 21: Recursos en español para aprender al aire libre

May 28: Using Sit Spots and your Senses to Connect with Nature

June 4: Métis Learning for the Summer Solstice

Each workshop comes complete with a certificate of attendance, access to the recording, discounts for outdoor learning tools & resources, and entry for some great prizes! 

Museum of Idaho Educator Summer Camps. Come earn professional credit while learning from experts through these place based experiences in Eastern Idaho. Course titles for this summer include 3, 2, 1, Lift Off! Expedition Yellowstone, Grand Teton Geology, Wasden Archaeology, and Harriman Adventure. Checkout the museum’s PD website and get ready for opening day of registration, coming soon. These courses fill up quickly! 

Resources & Grants

The Life in the Land project speaks to the value of community-guided and collaborative approaches on the landscape. With a focus on Montana’s rural communities, including Native communities, this series shows the value in fostering healthy relationships; not only between people who have varied perspectives, but also between people and their environments. The content is intended to elevate the work featured, as well as spark deeper discussion in group settings.They offer a free content library of our films and podcasts. Film Episodes: We offer 6 film episodes ranging from 30 to 50 minutes long. Each film highlights a unique region in Montana and the way in which the community is responding to environmental and societal pressures and opportunities. Podcasts: With over 40 episodes available, the Stories for Action podcasts allow you to take a deeper dive into a certain perspective, with consistent themes of community-guided & holistic approaches. Full details at

Ada Soil & Water Conservation District Free conservation education programming available to your students. This programming does not require costly entrance fees or transportation costs. We bring the program to you! Additionally, programming can be conducted in the classroom or in an outdoor space at your school. 

Art Contests for EE 

Announcing the 2024 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest. As the world’s largest environmental youth program for the creative arts, the mission of the Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs is to empower youth to connect, create, and communicate for our planet. Since 2011, Bow Seat has engaged over 33,000 students from more than 140 countries and all 50 U.S. states. This year’s theme for their award-winning Ocean Awareness Contest is Tell Your Climate Story, where we ask youth to become climate witnesses and creatively express their personal experiences, insights, or perceptions about our changing climate reality through visual and performing arts, creative writing, film, and multimedia.

The Treasure Valley Pollinator Project is looking for original stories, essays, recipes, and poems about pollinators, flowers, gardens, native plants, and wildlife with the focus on conservation. If your submission is selected for the 2024 Treasure Valley Pollinator Project Zine, you will receive 10 copies of the 'zine' to share with family and friends and a flat of flowers of your choice. The submission deadline is April 7, 2024 (on or before). Poems should be 20 lines or less and short stories/essays have a 700 word maximum. Only submit original, previously unpublished work or previously published work to which you have publishing rights Students can submit their work via an online form. Questions? Contact Lisa Wilson at

Upcoming Events

April 11-12: 4th annual EcosySTEM, Nampa. Register for this event and find details at the  2024 Convening webpage

The Idea of Nature Spring 2024 Public Lecture Series REGISTER: 

  • April 18 with Stephanie Burt, Harvard University. "The Nature of Taylor Swift".

  • April 22 with Rev. Lydia Cook, St. Mary, England. EARTH WEEK BONUS WEBINAR!  "From Lament to Action: Why we should all engage with Eco-Church".

April 26-29: City Nature Challenge. Visit for more details.

Eventbrite $30 Ticket includes a copy of No More Empty Spaces, afternoon treats from Stella's Ice Cream, and a chance to visit with the author as a part of our Book Club.  

April 27: Portneuf Valley Environmental Fair The Portneuf Valley Environmental Fair is an annual event in Pocatello dedicated to inspiring wonder and appreciation of the natural world we live in, providing environmental education, and bringing the Portneuf Valley community together in the spirit of Earth Day. This year’s Portneuf Valley Environmental Fair will be held at the end of Earth Week on Saturday, April 27th, at Lookout Point from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On average, over 5,000 people attend this free event.  Over 70 local businesses, agencies, and organizations will host hands-on activities for children of all ages, provide giveaways, and teach everyone how to protect the Portneuf Valley for current and future generations. FREE admission, FREE food, LIVE music, and FREE bus rides. 

October 2: Idaho Women’s Charitable Foundation (IWCF) 2024 - Our Shared Environment: LEAD! (Learn - Engage - Adapt - Discuss). This one-day event will feature Dr. Jonathon Foley from Project Drawdown, an international organization that aims to help the world stop climate change—as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible, and the ReFED executive director, Dana Gunders, who will speak to data-driven solutions to fight food waste. Local experts will also discuss the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat in various breakout sessions.

EE Spotlight

As environmental ambassadors and educators,  we know the value of engagement with the outdoors. We petition our administrators to increase student access to the outdoors, to provide more support for the integration of EE into our curriculum, and nudge our students outdoors to gasp and wonder why the newly felled trees in our schoolyard were cut down. Then we roll the severed stumps into our classroom to marvel at the story that a cross section of a tree can tell. 

In the small town of Rexburg, in Southeastern Idaho, one team of educators has made the dream of place based environmental education a reality. 

Rexburg sits on the western edge of the Teton Watershed which covers 3,400 square miles of land in Western Wyoming and Eastern Idaho.  A system of rivers, streams, and reservoirs connect the watershed which is dominated by the Snake River. The watershed is a resource for local farmers and ranchers, and provides drinking water and recreation throughout the surrounding communities. Proximity to these hydrologic resources led to the design of the Environmental Science (ES) class at Madison High School in Rexburg. 

Since its inception in 1994, the ES course has evolved into a robust, interdisciplinary trimester long experience. The four credit class provides qualifying students with significant field experiences that focus on ecology and water chemistry as well as journalistic writing and statistical skills. Every year fifty students are chosen from 75-90 applicants to participate and then divided into twelve teams with two groups that alternate field and classroom experiences. 

The program’s director & science teacher, Travis Phillips, takes half of the teams to the Teton Watershed where they conduct biological, physical, and chemical assessments on streams and also learn ecological concepts. During the trimester each student will assess twelve major and two desert streams in the Teton Watershed. Student scientists also access other field experiences including visits to related locations in the region such as dams, waste water and hydrology plants, wind farms, the Idaho National Laboratory, and local fisheries. 

While half the teams are conducting field work, the other teams are at the high school learning journalistic and technical writing and statistics. Amy Leatham and Nicolette Jacobson are the collaborating educators for these courses. Understanding statistics allows students to more fluently analyze the data they’ve collected and explicit writing instruction teaches students how to communicate the significance of their work to a larger audience. Additionally, students use classroom time to publish their findings on a website that local agencies report using for comparative study with their own research. 

In addition to testing and data collection, ES students also participate in service projects such as stream restoration, planting trees, fencing, seed distribution, and more. Through collaborative, place based education, and cooperation with local agencies such as The Forest Service, Idaho Fish and Game, and The Henry’s Fork Foundation, students are able to cultivate transferable skills that promote career readiness and engagement through real world problem solving. 

We know that well designed place based learning engages and motivates students in ways that are hard to achieve in exclusively classroom settings. Students in the ES class at Madison High School exemplify our greatest hopes for education. According to Travis, “It would be hard to find someone that has taken the class who does not express that it had a profound impact on their high school career as well as on their life in general. Even for those who do not pursue a career in an environmental discipline, a high percentage do go into related fields. We have several former students who now work in hydrology, land management, forest management, geology, environmental law, and environmental engineering to just name a few.” 

When asked about what has been most memorable, Travis told me, “Being out in the forest on a daily basis for two months each year for almost 20 years there are so many moments that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is always fun to see wildlife and we have had several encounters with bears, snakes, and moose. We have gone on hikes to some of the most beautiful areas and we experience so much each time we go out. It is like a daily adventure and this generation of kids needs daily adventure more now than ever.”

If anyone would like to connect with Travis and gather more information about the ES class, he’s happy to share his experience: or General Website for Environmental Solutions Class

IdEEA Updates

Become an IdEEA member and support EE in Idaho! If you have an interest in supporting our mission more fully but don’t have the capacity to be on the board, join one of our committees! Any active members are eligible to meet with a committee to help with specific events and projects. Let us know you’re interested by emailing under the subject “Committees” and we’ll connect you to the correct Committee Chair. Become a member today! Stay current with all our updates! Subscribe to this newsletter and follow our blog at

About this newsletter - We bring you the latest Environmental Education resources, events, and opportunities from around Idaho, now once per month. You can be a part of this process by sharing resources, events, jobs, etc. with under the subject “Newsletter.” Grow our reach by sharing this message with your contacts and having them subscribe to our mailing list at If this message has reached you in error and you’d like to be removed, you can unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this message.


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