top of page

Earth Tracks Newsletter Spring 2023


Happy Earth Month!


Nominations for Idaho Environmental Educator of the Year Awards are open! Each year, outstanding classroom and community educators are recognized for their unique and invaluable contributions to the field of environmental education. Winners will be honored at the Project Green Sustainability Summit on June 7 at Riverside Elementary in Boise. We invite you to nominate an elementary teacher, secondary teacher, non-formal educator and volunteer via our online nomination form. Open now through May 5.

Take the NAAEE’s Outside for 5 Pledge this spring to reap the benefits of taking your learning outside the classroom.

We’re researching the viability of a mentorship program, by Pine Goodman, a student at One Stone's Lab51 in Boise. “I am currently working with IdEEA to create a mentorship program for people in the outdoor industry (Note: I am defining the outdoor industry as fields of work that encourage exploration of, or interaction with, aspects of nature through means that are fundamentally intertwined with, or heavily rely on the natural world. This can range from professions like river guiding or rock climbing instructing to eco-therapists and environmental educators.) This survey is designed to gauge interest in and inspire the contents of this program. All information gathered will be kept anonymous. Thank you!”

Biodiversity Challenges begin! The Northern Rocky Mountain Biodiversity Challenge (NRMBC) and City Nature Challenge (CNC) begin in April and follow through into the summer and fall. See the CNC NRMBC project page or preregister for the CNC event. Further details in the Upcoming Events section below.

Reading Wildly: A book discussion group for the eco-curious. Moderated by Susan Wolfe, IdEEA Vice President. Eventbrite Sign Up

Named one of the best books of the year by “Smithsonian Magazine”, All We Can Save illuminates the expertise and insights of dozens of diverse women leading on climate in the United States—scientists, journalists, farmers, lawyers, teachers, activists, innovators, wonks, and designers, across generations, geographies, and race—and aims to advance a more representative, nuanced, and solution-oriented public conversation on the climate crisis. These women offer a spectrum of ideas and insights for how we can rapidly, radically reshape society.

Intermixing essays with poetry and art, this book is both a balm and a guide for knowing and holding what has been done to the world, while bolstering our resolve never to give up on one another or our collective future. We must summon truth, courage, and solutions to turn away from the brink and toward life-giving possibility. Curated by two climate leaders, the book is a collection and celebration of visionaries who are leading us on a path toward all we can save. Discover more about the Reading Wildly series HERE.

Student contests underway! Take advantage of three environmentally-themed art contests: (1) Thru the Trees Video Contest for 14-18 year old youth to create a video about one or more forest-related careers. Cash prizes, including a $1000 grand prize. Submit by April 7. (2) Arbor Day Photo Contest for Idaho 5th-12th graders to share their photographic expression of the Healthy Tree, Healthy Me theme, with cash prizes! Submit by April 10. (3) National Association of Conservation Districts poster and speech contest with the theme of “One Water.” The poster contest is open to students in grades 4-6 while the speech contest is available to students in grades 9-12.Submit entries by October 9, 2023. Cash prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place with the opportunity to compete at the division, state, and national levels.

The Treasure Valley Pollinator Project this year is all about beetles and creating beetle habitat. Flower mixes are still available for purchase with pick-up dates scheduled for May 5 & 6 at Peaceful Belly Farm and May 8 in Emmett. We also offer a number of workshops for participants and other members of the community so you can learn more about these important, but undervalued insects. More details about the project, workshops, volunteer opportunities, and how to purchase plants at

Professional Workshops

Project GREEN Sustainability Summit, June 7-8 in Boise. This is the 5th year of the annual conference and the theme is Resiliency. It will be hosted by Riverside Elementary School (June 7) and the City of Boise WaterShed (June 8). The main audience is teachers and administrators, but we encourage professionals, administrators, students and educators of all types to submit proposals to present. The first day of the summit will feature a keynote speaker, community professionals, and the highlight of the conference, student success (and near success) stories. The second day of the summit at The Watershed will explore the current displays and get a preview of the changes that are taking place! The rest of the day will be spent in breakout sessions with experiential activities from a diverse set of educators and professionals.

IDAH2O Master Water Stewards, June 14 in Boise. Through on-line and in-person instruction, learn how to assess water quality using physical, chemical and biological practices. Afterward participants have the option to adopt a stream. 1 PD Credit available.

Project WET Early Learners Workshop, June 27 in Boise. Getting Little Feet WET, in-person at The WaterShed Education Center, Boise. 1 PD Credit available.

The Northwest's Premiere Summer Conference on Gifted and Talented Education

Edufest 2023, July 24-28 in Boise. This year’s conference will take place on the campus of Boise State University in Boise, Idaho from July 24-28, 2023. Read more about outdoor and EE-specific presentations HERE.

Idaho STEM conference, August 3-4 in Boise. A statewide conference with IdEEA, ISTA & ICTM at Borah High School, Boise.

Project Learning Tree (PLT) workshops. Check out their 1-credit Professional Development classes. Why PLT? It’s worth your time; it makes your life easier; we share interesting content and effective teaching methods; we provide current locally-relevant resources; you go home with ready-to-use teaching tools that reduce planning time, help students learn and address your curriculum and meet standards - The best part? PLT spreads joy!

Mentorships - Internships - Jobs

Summer hiring is happening! There are Environmental Education and Garden-to-Table instructor positions with the City of Boise and Canoe Science Camp Instructors with Canyon County Parks, as well as AmeriCorps service positions.

Upcoming Events

April 20: 2022 Youth Climate Action Summit. Contact Jenny Wolf for details.

April 24-25: Idaho Envirothon. This hands-on environmental problem-solving competition for teams of high school students all over the state takes place in Challis. Students test their knowledge of soils and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife, and current environmental issues. Winning teams have the opportunity to compete at the North American Envirothon for scholarships and other prizes. Competition details, entry forms, and guidelines online here. Scholarships are available through the Ada Soil and Water Conservation District for eligible teams and students; contact Jessica Harrold for scholarship information.

April 28: Northern Rocky Mountain Biodiversity Challenge (NRMBC). The NRMBC is an ecoregional competition modeled after the City Nature Challenge (CNC). This free, tri-annual, crowd-sourced, 4-day collaboration known as a bioblitz covers the 106 individual projects in jurisdictions that intersect in whole, or in part, with the Yellowstone to Yukon ecoregion. It runs the following dates this year: 4/28-5/1 (CNC NRMBC); 6/8-6/11 (Summer NRMBC); and 9/14-9/17 (Fall NRMBC). More details at the CNC NRMBC project page.

April 29: City Nature Challenge. Join us as we hike through Hull’s Gulch to collect observations of plants and wildlife for the international City Nature Challenge! Bring your smartphones or cameras to help us snap pictures and identify the many species found in the Boise foothills! Preregistration required for this free program!

May 3: Boise Birding. Identifying Birds by Song I: Song Basics Click HERE to register.

May 9: Reading Wildly: A book discussion group for the eco-curious. 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. at Alia’s Coffeehouse in Boise. Eventbrite Sign Up

May 20-July 15: WaterShed Weekends. Offered every third Saturday of each month through July, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm, at The Watershed, Boise. May 20: WaterShed Birthday Bash; June 17: O-fish-al Fish Release; and July 15: Water Festival.

May 25-August 18: Boise Environmental Education outdoor summer programs. The City of Boise’s environmental education institutions (the Zoo, Watershed, Foothills Learning Center, and Boise Urban Garden School) will be running various camp and other summer activities. Registration opens in mid April. More information HERE.

June 2: Boise Birding. Identifying Birds by Song II: Distinguishing Similar Species

Click HERE to register.

June 6-August 8: Tour Tuesdays at The Watershed. Tour the City of Boise’s largest Water Renewal Facility- to understand what happens when you flush! Ages 5 and up. From 9:00-10:00 am.

June 7-8: Project GREEN Sustainability Summit. Riverside Elementary and The Watershed, Boise. Details and registration.

June 7-August 9: WaterShed Wednesdays. Join the WaterShed each Wednesday this summer to participate in free all-ages activities from 10:00 am – Noon.

June 12: Canoe Science Camp Details

June 12: Idaho Botanical Garden STEAM Camps. Dates throughout the summer. Details and registration.

June 19-24: University of Idaho Natural Resources Camp. This week-long opportunity in Ketchum is for students aged 12-16 and teachers to learn more about the environment by exploring the outdoors. Cost of participation is $280; scholarships are available to Ada County students wishing to attend by emailing Jessica Harrold. Click here for full details.

July 7: Boise Birding. Field Trip to Bogus Basin (6:00 AM – 12:00 PM). Registration coming soon.

July 24-28: EduFest 2023. Boise State University, Boise. Registration and presentation details.

Aug 3-4. Statewide STEM Conference with ISTA, ICTM, and IdEEA. Borah High School, Boise. Details and registration.

Resources & Grants

Are you looking to fund a conservation project or environmental education program? The Ada Soil & Water Conservation District offers a Community Conservation Grant program that can help you fund your conservation or environmental education project. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Guidelines and applications

Animal Empathy resources from Zoo Boise: See their Educator Resources HERE.

The Ada Soil & Water Conservation District offers FREE outreach education! If you are a teacher in Ada, Canyon, or Owyhee counties and are interested in a hands-on, engaging lesson focused on soil health, please consider inviting us to your classroom. Lessons take approximately 45 - 60 minutes and address some of the key concepts related to system interactions, erosion, biodiversity, and human impacts. Lessons can be adapted to suit all grade levels and are designed for a single classroom. You can request an outreach visit at

PLT materials for your classroom, including Forest History Student Readers, new Arbor Day Activity Sheets, posters, bookmarks and lots, lots more! Contact Michelle at for details.

EE Spotlight

IdEEA’s Learn Local series features innovative educators, ideas, projects, and lessons from Idaho’s community of educators who utilize place-based education.

IdEEA believes environmental education fosters relationships with our natural world and a better understanding of our planet, how it works, and our place in it. Place-based education is one educational philosophy that explores global environmental issues with the learning centered around the local community. As students learn, they collect data and propose solutions that are applied locally and globally. Because it is authentic, research shows this type of learning is deep and meaningful. We’re pleased to highlight the work of Sharee Barton, an educator in Rexburg, Idaho. Sharee embodies the mission of place based education by leveraging the resources of National Geographic.

National Geographic Educator Certification Program. Sharee's PBE story began in 2017 when she attended a conference and learned about the National Geographic Educator Certification Program. The National Geographic Educator Certification Program has been paused to bring it into closer alignment with our NGNext strategy. Interested teachers should watch this website: National Geographic Educator Certification for updates. This free course provided a great introduction to many professional development and student learning opportunities - including Geo-Inquiry. Geo-Inquiry uses a geographic perspective and process: students connect complex components, see patterns, and make connections and take action in ways that change their communities. Since then, Sharee and her students have utilized the Geo-Inquiry model to take action on numerous projects, including a campaign to eliminate plastic bags, the planting of pollinator gardens, and addressing the water gap with a water conservation campaign.

Sharee lights up when she talks about National Geographic and the huge online teacher resource bank available to any educator seeking awesome content. “If I have questions, or if I need support, I have a great sounding board at National Geographic, but they also have an educational online program where educators can take classes and learn how to do service-learning or how to implement project-based and place-based learning.” She continued, “The majority of these resources and courses are free. National Geographic knows that children are tomorrow’s planetary stewards. This is their intrinsic motivation.” In 2019, she was selected for the professional development experience of a lifetime, becoming a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow (GTF). She traveled to Antarctica on a National Geographic/Lindblad Expedition, participating in scientific research on penguins and climate change. “The GTF experience was the professional development opportunity of a lifetime. The main goal of this program is to offer firsthand experiences and knowledge of the interconnectedness of the human and natural world. Integrating this experience into my teaching creates more global awareness in my students.”

National Geographic Educator-Explorer Exchange. Last year, Sharee applied to National Geographic’s Educator-Explorer Exchange. This unique opportunity pairs National Geographic Certified Educators with National Geographic explorers to collaborate on a series of unique learning experiences over a school year. The pairs engage in two-way professional development, with explorers sharing their content knowledge, and educators sharing their pedagogical expertise. Sharee was paired with National Geographic Explorer and chemical biologist Dr. Rosa Vásquez Espinoza. Dr. Vásquez Espinoza studies the microbial world of the Amazon in an effort to discover possible medicinal contributions in extremophiles. Dr. Espinoza was studying the Boiling River, a geothermally heated river in her home country of Peru. Sharee lives in Rexburg, with Yellowstone National Park in her extended back yard, and recognized a place-based opportunity. As the gifted and talented coordinator for the Madison School District, Sharee went to Tricia Galor, a fourth-grade teacher, and said, “Let’s take a look at your science standards and see where this can support your curriculum.”

Teachers can’t afford to give up time for something that doesn’t match standards. Sharee observes, “In the end, we found many opportunities to connect to Dr. Espinoza’s exploration. Our goal was to make biochemistry accessible to nine-year-olds. And we did!” Read about this amazing collaboration in this Learn Local EE Educator Spotlight link.

IDEEA Updates

Welcome our new Board members! We are so excited to be joined by six more EE advocates. Check out the biographies of the current board members at

Board of Directors meeting schedule: The IdEEA Board meets April 19, July 19, and October 18 of this year.

ICYMI: Updates from the IdEEA blog. This winter, we talked about Swallows and Bridges, and shared tips for teachers taking classes out to field experiences, and embracing place-based education. Be sure to register your email on our website to be alerted whenever new articles are posted each month.

Mailing list clean-up: We’ve archived all of the addresses who hadn’t actively engaged with our newsletter and other mailings over the past year. Please forward this email to anyone who you think might be interested so they can be sure to register their address with us directly. Thank you!

About this newsletter

Four times per year, we bring you the latest Environmental Education resources, events, and opportunities from around Idaho. You can be a part of this process by sharing resources, events, jobs, etc. with under the subject “Newsletter” by June 24, 2023 for inclusion in the spring edition being mailed in early July 2023.

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.


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page