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Earth Tracks Newsletter February 2024



Nature's Best Hope update. Author Douglas Tallamy will be the keynote speaker at an event on February 9 and our Reading Wildly book group will be discussing the book and his talk on February 13. See additional details in the Upcoming Events section below, and be sure to read our EE Spotlight in this newsletter to learn more about Reading Wildly.

REGISTER for The Idea of Nature Spring 2024 Public Lecture Series. A series of four in-person and webinar lectures are planned: 

  • FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9 with DOUGLAS TALLAMY, T. A. Baker Professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware. “Nature’s Best Hope”.

  • THURSDAY, MARCH 28 with JAMES EDWARD MILLS, Freelance Journalist and Mountain Guide. "Over the Adventure Gap".

  • THURSDAY, APRIL 18 with STEPHANIE BURT, Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Professor of English, Harvard University. "The Nature of New Zealand Poetry".

  • MONDAY, APRIL 22 with REV. LYDIA COOK, Anglican Priest, Ottery St. Mary, England.  EARTH WEEK BONUS WEBINAR!  "From Lament to Action: Why we should all engage with Eco-Church".

Participate in the Outdoor Learning Winter Challenge! This February 19 - March 1, head outside, join the snowman contest, and win some amazing prizes! Learn more & sign up at:  

Finding Dragons: Program gives students, community hands-on research experience. Read about the progress of a project that we’ve featured in past newsletters. 

Professional Workshops

Idaho Learning Adventures: Choose Your Own Path professional development program launches now! Teachers can now earn credit by creating their own professional development learning adventure through a new course listing through Northwest Nazarene University. The course is called Idaho Learning Adventures: Choose Your Own Path and requires educators to:

  • Participate in at least 3 different learning opportunities. 

  • Create a visual log documenting each of your adventures.

  • Create a plan to share what you have learned with your students.

Read more in our recent blog post and find out how you can earn your professional development credits doing the outdoor learning you and your students love! 

Sustainable Forestry Tour now open for applications. Reward yourself with the life-changing, all-expense paid, Sustainable Forestry Tour, June 25-28 based out of Moscow, Idaho. Visit beautiful forests, get inside high-tech facilities, network with colleagues and meet people who care for our forests and make wood and paper products. Best of all, take home  resources that help you meet standards and engage your learners. Earn 1-3 optional credits. 7th-12th grade teachers and school counselors are invited to apply by 3/31. Only 25 educators will be selected to attend!

Applications now open for Idaho K-12 teachers to join an exciting program in Mozambique. The Center for Global Engagement is now accepting applications for the upcoming Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad (GPA) Mozambique (June 2024). The month-long program in Mozambique, entitled Forging a Future for Africa Through Sustainability: Lessons from Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park is looking for qualified Boise State faculty members and Idaho K-12 educators. Six faculty members and six K-12 educators from across Idaho will be selected for the program. The candidates selection will be based on the curriculum idea and the connection between the proposed curriculum and the theme of the Program (sustainability). Information on eligibility, how to apply and more details of the Program can be found on the program website. Application deadline is February 15, 2024. For specific questions and inquiries, please direct them to

Idaho Ecosystems with Projects WILD, WET, and Learning Tree. Get a head start on your 2024 professional development, February 13 - April 2, 2024. In this interactive virtual class, receive training and award-winning materials from Project WILD, Project WET, and Project Learning Tree, to engage upper elementary students in learning about Idaho ecosystems. You will leave the course with plans to use materials from the course with students, whether teaching in the classroom or remotely, both indoors and out. Sign up today! 

  1. Feb 6: Indigenous Resources for Outdoor Learning

  2. Feb 13: Apprentissage de l'astronomie en plein air

  3. Feb 20: Stories in the Wild: Animal Tracks & Traces

  4. Feb 27: Enhancing Climate Education through Active Learning 

Project Learning Tree Explorations – Anytime, Anywhere. In this self-guided 1-credit virtual training, you will select a specific Project Learning Tree (PLT) environmental education curriculum as your focus and complete an online training on that material. In addition, you will conduct PLT activities, explore abundant supporting resources, and reflect and plan how you’ll use PLT in your individual situation. We always have a section of this class open. Get links for Spring 2024 and Summer 2024.

Prepare NOW for Spring Outdoor Learning Virtual Courses (early bird deadlines coming up soon). (1) Teaching Imagination in Place: Spring TIPS 2024 with Dr. Gillian Judson and her IEE Facilitation Team (Early bird open until Feb 18); and (2) Wild Learning: Practical Ideas to Bring Learning Outdoors with the one and only, Rachel Tidd (Early bird open until Feb 29).

In Mud: Nature-Based Early Childhood Education from Teton Science Schools in Jackson, WY. Come join us for our 7th annual In Mud Workshop - focused on the Environment as the Third Teacher. We are excited to welcome Jen Selbitschka, teacher educator program director from Boulder Journeys School, CO as our keynote speaker this year! For 2024 we will be exploring the concept of using our environment as a third teacher and how when we craft them with intention they take an influential role on a child’s experiences and explorations of the world around them. When: Saturday, May 4 from 8:30 am - 3:30 pm; Where: Teton Valley Campus of Teton Science Schools; Cost: $110 includes snacks, program, and a shuttle from Jackson for those interested. Register now.

Applications now open for the Outdoors Educators Institute in California. OEI supports young adults interested in pursuing a career in the outdoors through an immersive training held in the evenings and weekends over a three-month period in California’s Bay Area and Central Valley. Participants experience a transformative educational experience where they will learn key outdoor skills—like safety planning, backpacking, and sea kayaking—and gain practical expertise to discuss the most critical social and environmental justice issues of our time. The program will be running from April to July. Please note the program's schedule below.

  • Application Deadline – February 17, 2024

  • Applicants interviewed and selected by – March 18, 2024

  • Program begins – Week of April 1, 2024

  • Program ends – Week of July 15, 2024

  • Six weekends of in-person training with a bi-weekly virtual meeting

Learn more about the program here. Click here to apply. Contact the OEI Program Manager Tyler Gonzalez (he/him) at tyler@justiceou​ with questions.

Resources & Grants

Earn a $250 grant to help youth learn about forests and trees. Idaho Forest Products Council is accepting proposals for Forest Education Grants! Deadline is March 15, 2024. Apply now!

New outdoor learning resources available from the Outdoor Learning Store:

New sustainability resources available from NumbersUSA and the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy (CASSE):

1. NumbersUSA's Idaho Sprawl Study, website, and public polling results. All resources related to the Idaho Sprawl Study are freely available on the website

2. CASSE's recent blog article titled "Conservative Idaho: Poised to Resist Sprawl?". Written by CASSE's Policy Specialist Dave Rollo.

Upcoming Events

Feb 6: Indigenous Resources for Outdoor Learning. Learn more & sign-up: 

Feb 9: Idea of Nature Lecture Series. Douglas Tallamy, author of Nature's Best Hope is the keynote speaker at Boise State University at 6 PM.

Feb 13: Reading Wildly: Nature's Best Hope Book Group. Alia’s Coffee Shop (908 West Main Street, Boise 83702) at 5 PM.Reserve your book copy and event spot at: Reading Wildly Book Club Event Link

Feb 20: Stories in the Wild: Animal Tracks & Traces. Learn more & sign-up: 

Feb 27: Enhancing Climate Education through Active Learning. Learn more & sign-up: 

March 5-7: Green Schools Conference in Santa Fe, NM.

March 27: Wild Learning. This course from The Outdoor Learning Store will include guided conversations, activities and discussion with the author, practical activities for you to try and get feedback on, and community building with other educators while discovering how to deliver your own ‘Wild Learning.’ Details and registration at  

Employment/Volunteer/Student Opportunities

Application open for Assistant Water Educator with the U-Idaho Extension in the greater Boise area. The Assistant Extension Water Educator will support the Extension Water Outreach program through leading hands-on educational activities, assisting with educational event planning, and assisting with IDAH 2 O Master Water Stewards/Project WET/TRM Crayfish Citizen Science projects (about 65% of the time). In addition, the Educator will assist with water outreach-related research (about 35% of the time). The position is part-time, at 0.6 FTE, and will be housed in the Boise Water Center.  To apply, send a cover letter and resume/vitae to Jim Ekins, Ph.D., U-Idaho Extension Water Educator; Direct questions to that email or call 208-292-1287.

EE Spotlight

Who doesn’t love talking about a great book with a friend? IdEEA provides that opportunity for its members and the broader community to do just that throughout the year at our Reading Wildly book discussions. I sat down recently with Susan Wolfe, our Vice President and creator of the Reading Wildly program to ask her a few questions. 

Susan, what motivated you to create the book discussion group?

I grew up in Colorado and Idaho. Both my parents loved the outdoors and, through many outdoor adventures, wanted to pass that gift onto me. As an elementary gifted and talented specialist in the Boise Schools and a 2021 National Geographic Grosvenor Teacher Fellow, it was important to nurture this spirit of inquiry and curiosity of our natural world within my students. Through my work with IdEEA I’m fortunate to be able to blend my passion for education with my love of the environment. 

In November of 2022, I was on my National Geographic expedition in the Galapagos Islands. It was an incredible experience: I learned about animals and plants and local conservation methods. On the ship, I connected with naturalists, scientists, guests, and educators. It was so wonderful to have a community to discuss concerning environmental issues, and share seeds of hope. The onboard guests felt the same way, and expressed a desire for this type of respectful forum back home. Hence, “Reading Wildly - a book community for the Eco-Curious” was born. 

For example, caring about the climate crisis can be incredibly isolating. Polling tells us climate conversations are few and far between, yet people are hungry for deeper, more generous dialogue on the topic, and to circle up in ways that connect, nourish, and seed action. 

Tell me more about the discussion events and some of the unexpected and exciting outcomes of Reading Wildly.  

Reading Wildly meets quarterly and is focused on environmental concepts. We started last year, and have hosted four events in Ada County at various downtown locations. Our book selections range from fiction, science fiction, and non-fiction. I’m grateful for its success. I’m a curious individual and seeking opportunities to learn is in my “teacher DNA”. Acting as the moderator has allowed me to meet interesting people from a variety of backgrounds, including birders, CEO’s, educators, writers, and war veterans. One of these encounters has now resulted in the collaboration between IdEEA, The Nature Conservancy, Idaho Public Television, and NASA Earth to Sky Network. This Climate Curriculum Cohort will connect on climate topics and create a curriculum based on the Idaho Climate-Economy Impacts Assessment and Idaho's State Standards and will bring Climate Change curriculum to our public schools. 

Having such a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences which weaves a richness of perspectives in our conversations. This has really been a huge goal of mine. Bringing people together with a diverse background to share their unique perspective in a safe atmosphere. It is important to explore all sides of our changing world. 

What is the framework for your discussions and how is this beneficial to participants? 

As the moderator (and a former teacher), I utilize the Socratic Method to facilitate our group conversations. Socratic seminars are named for their embodiment of Socrates’ belief in the power of asking questions, the value of inquiry over information, and discussion over debate. Participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas through rigorously thoughtful dialogue. This process encourages divergent thinking (an expanse of further ideas) rather than convergent thinking (a shutting down of new ideas, a definite conclusion). 

Tell me about a discussion that was especially memorable. 

Participants have asked that we meet more frequently and open the seating to greater numbers. It is a challenge to find a space and a discussion format to have deep, meaningful conversations with in-person large groups of people. The sign-up format we currently use is Eventbrite and caps  participants at 12. IdEEA serves all of Idaho so our Board is deciding how to expand the Reading Wildly reach. 

How can members participate or start their own chapters for their region? 

Two of IdEEA’s Board members (Tricia Galer, who lives in eastern Idaho, and George Gehrig, northern Idaho) have started Reading Wildly chapters. I’ve been wondering how we could join forces and host a statewide online version so folks from all over Idaho and beyond can join.  

IdEEA is dedicated to the advancement of environmental education in Idaho. How does Reading Wildly reflect that mission?

Reading Wildly offers a forum where all participants (members, non members, educators and former educators, scientists and nonscientists) can join the discussion on the appreciation for the natural world and our place in it, while benefiting from the wisdom of authors and one another. 

I think Katherine Hayhoe, climate scientist and the author of Saving Us has the right idea. She states that, …”when it comes to changing hearts and minds, facts are only one part of the equation. We need to find shared values in order to connect our unique identities to collective action.” That is the heart of Reading Wildly.

IdEEA Updates

Another benefit for IdEEA members! 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

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