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Earth Tracks Newsletter Summer 2023


Announcing the IdEEA Fellowship program! In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, IdEEA will be supporting up to 10 teachers as part of an inaugural Climate Curriculum Cohort during the 2023-24 school year. An online application will be available posted on the IdEEA website later this summer. See us in-person at the EduFest and STEM conferences for more details, or email us at with any questions.

The Idaho Envirothon is a hands-on, environmental problem solving competition for high school aged students in Idaho. Participating teams complete training and testing in five natural resource categories: Soils & Land Use, Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Wildlife, and the current issue. Winning teams from each state and province advance to the North American Envirothon for an opportunity to compete for recognition, scholarships, and prizes. The 2023 Idaho Envirothon was held April 24-25 in Challis under the main topic issue “Adapting To A Changing Climate”.

The winners of the 2023 Idaho Envirothon were: 1st Place = North Idaho STEM Charter; 2nd Place = Gooding #1 (sponsored by Gooding SCD); 3rd Place = Gooding #2 (sponsored by Wood River SWCD); 4th Place = Pocatello High School; and 5th Place = Idaho City (sponsored by N Idaho Charter STEM). The winning team will participate in the NCF Envirothon at Mt Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada from July 23-29. Additional information on the team and individual winners can be found on the Idaho Envirothon website. Congratulations to all the participants, and a thank you to all of the supporting professionals that make this program possible in Idaho.

The EPA is soliciting applications for youth to fill 16 vacancies on the agency’s first-ever National Youth Advisory Council (NEYAC). Selected applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 29 and will contribute to a balance of perspectives, backgrounds, and experience of the council. As part of the agency’s commitment to centering environmental justice communities, at least 50% of the overall membership of NEYAC will come from, reside primarily in, and/or do most of their work in disadvantaged communities. Applications to the NEYAC are due by August 22, 2023 at 11:59PM ET. Applications must include: Contact information; Resume OR short biography OR qualification essay; Statement of interest; and Media Project. Visit the EPA NEYAC webpage for more information on the council and to apply.

Congratulations to the winners of IdEEA’s 2023 Environmental Educator of the Year awards!

  • Elementary = Paul Johnson, a 5th grade teacher at Future Public School, a public charter school in Garden City;

  • Secondary = Allison Fowle, the Experiential Learning Lead and Lab 51 Coach for One Stone, an independent, tuition-free school in Boise;

  • Non-Formal = Jenny Wolf, Water Education Coordinator with the City of Boise, working with the Watershed Watch and Youth Climate Action Council programs;

  • Volunteer = Greg Dye, an engineer with a wide range of experience in water and wastewater engineering throughout the western US who has provided a number of public tours of the West Boise Water Renewal Facility.

Awards were presented at the Project Green Teacher Sustainability Summit on June 7 at Riverside Elementary in Boise. Additional details on all of the winners is posted on the IdEEA website. If you are interested in nominating an educator for next year’s award, submissions will be accepted through the IdEEA website beginning March 2024.

Misha Smith, a 6th grade teacher at Hawthorne Elementary in Boise who will be honored with the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and will be recognized as a member of the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship Cohort later this year in Washington, D.C., was presented with an award certificate by local EPA representative Emily Good. The PIAEE award was established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act and seeks to recognize, support and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects undertaken by teachers who go above and beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich K-12 education. The Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, a partnership through Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, sends teachers on expeditions to enhance their geographic and scientific knowledge with hands-on, field-based experiences that they will bring back to their classrooms, communities and professional networks.

Professional Workshops

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.

Resources & Grants

EPA has announced the 2023 Clean School Bus (CSB) Grant Program! Under the 2023 CSB Grant Program, the Agency is asking for applications nationwide to award approximately $400 million in competitive grant funding to eligible applicants for the purchase of zero-emission (ZE) school buses, clean school buses, and ZE charging infrastructure. EPA is prioritizing applications that will replace buses serving high-need local education agencies, rural areas, Tribal school districts funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and public school districts receiving basic support payments for students living on Tribal land, and rural areas. Applications are due by Tuesday, August 22, 2023, at 11:59PM ET. To assist potential applicants, EPA will host a series of public webinars; check the Clean School Bus Webinars webpage for upcoming dates. Learn more about the CSB Grant Program and how to apply or contact for further information.


Re-discovered in the most recent Variety from the Vaults event hosted at the Idaho State Archives, “Idaho Plants: Facts and Folklore” is a unique look at Idaho’s native flora. Found inside the Idaho Native Plant Society Records (MS 755), the book was written and illustrated by over 100 students from Boise’s North Junior High School in honor of Idaho’s Centennial and Earth Day in 1990. When it was written, Kara Garten, a reporter for The Idaho Statesman, noted that this book was “the only complete work on Idaho plants, including the facts and folklore about them.” Only 150 copies of the book were printed for the first edition, making this publication a rare and valuable find. While individual enthusiasm for the project seems to vary from student to student, the quality of the content they produced stays steady throughout. Staff at the Archives found it too good to leave tucked in a manuscript box and chose to digitize it for the public to access. Please visit the link below to view this fantastic celebration of Idaho flora created by Idaho students! (Courtesy of the Idaho State Historical Society Histor-E Newsletter, May 15, 2023)

The final reports for IdEEA’s 2023 grant recipients are now posted on our website. Applications for the 2023-24 year will be available in Fall 2023.

Upcoming Events

Summer 2023: 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 camps and other summer activities. Registration opens in mid April. More information HERE.

Summer 2023: Idaho Botanical Garden STEAM Camps. Dates throughout the summer. Details and registration.

July 7: Boise Birding: Field Trip to Bogus Basin (6:00 AM – 12:00 PM). Register online

July 15: WaterShed Weekends. Offered every third Saturday of each month, 10 AM – 1 PM: July 15 theme is Water Festival.

July 11-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.

July 12-August 9: WaterShed Wednesdays. Join the WaterShed each Wednesday this summer to participate in free all-ages activities from 10:00 am – Noon.

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.

Coming this September! Reading Wildly: A book discussion group for the eco-curious. The Ministry for the Future is a masterpiece of the imagination, using fictional eyewitness accounts to tell the story of how climate change will affect us all. Its setting is not a desolate, post-apocalyptic world, but a future that is almost upon us. Chosen by Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of the year, this extraordinary novel from visionary science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson will change the way you think about the climate crisis. "One hopes that this book is read widely—that Robinson’s audience, already large, grows by an order of magnitude. Because the point of his books is to fire the imagination."―New York Review of Books "If there’s any book that hit me hard this year, it was Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future, a sweeping epic about climate change and humanity’s efforts to try and turn the tide before it’s too late." ―Polygon (Best of the Year) … "Masterly." —New Yorker … Check the IdEEA website for event details.

Sept 14-17: 2023 Fall Northern Rocky Mountain Biodiversity Challenge (NRMBC). Mark your calendars so that you can participate in the Fall NRMBC. Join the project to get more information and updates. This free 4-day event is the third and final ecoregional bioblitz of 2023. The 106 projects include all jurisdictions that intersect in whole, or in part, with the Yellowstone to Yukon ecoregion. The sites will be ranked based on participation, and the most active observers will be recognized as environmental stewards.

Sept 19-Nov 14: Outdoor Learning Fall Virtual Workshop Series. Tuesdays, September-November 2023. Topics include: Naturally Inclusive: Engaging Children of All Abilities Outdoors (9/19); Wild Learning: Practical Ideas to Bring Teaching Outdoors (9/26); Outdoor Learning through Patterns in Nature (10/3); Connecting Children to Nature through Indigenous Teachings (10/17); and BE OUT - A New Outdoor Learning Tool for Teacher Success (11/14). Details and registration at

Oct 2023-June 2024: Four Seasons of Indigenous Learning. Details and registration at

Nov 2023: NASA Earth to Sky workshop in McCall. Contact Jenny Wolf ( for details.

EE Spotlight - Learn Local

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.

Human beings play an integral role in our ecological place-based systems. For generations, indigenous cultures actively managed their ancestral lands through place-based knowledge, recognizing patterns and observing changes in the environment. Environmental stewardship was embedded in practices like resource extraction, food sovereignty, and medicinal plant biodiversity. Stewardship and knowledge were passed to the next generation through hands-on experiences and stories - showing the interconnectivity between the ecological and the cultural. There existed a responsibility to the land with the knowledge that livelihood depended on sustainable practices.

“Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and other Indigenous peoples have a long tradition of living sustainably with the natural world by understanding the importance of preserving natural resources and respecting the interdependence of all living things.” — Native American Rights Fund (NARF)

There is a growing contemporary movement: environmental scientists and educators are integrating indigenous wisdom, revitalizing cultural practices, and engaging in collaborative projects with native people. We observe our planet experiencing environmental crises, such as climate-induced wildfires, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, and more. Indigenous land, which accounts for 22% of the world’s land mass, has 80% of the world’s biodiversity! Environmental degradation occurs at a slower rate, which scientists believe is due to indigenous ecological practices. These practices are based upon the Indigenous reciprocal relationship with nature. Robin Wall Kimmerer, the author of Braiding Sweetgrass, explains the idea of reciprocity: “all of our flourishing is mutual” (166). We must honor the interconnectedness of nature, and move from the practice of simply depending on nature to serve humans. Experience and traditional indigenous knowledge (TEK) provide us a significant perspective regarding the creation and implementation of solutions. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization UNESCO defines “Indigenous knowledge” as “the understandings, skills and philosophies developed by societies with long histories of interaction with their natural surroundings.” Such societies include Indigenous peoples for whom these “unique ways of knowing” are integral to their cultures, languages, social interactions, spirituality, decision-making processes, day-to-day lives and locally appropriate sustainable development.

If you are looking to integrate place-based education by increasing student engagement and raising awareness of indigenous issues, knowledge and perspectives, examine these sample resources:

Idaho Education News A series of articles written by Carly Flandro that contain lesson ideas, resources, and contacts.

The Idaho State Museum has a wonderful hand-on exhibit (now through September 2023). Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science teaches that overcoming centuries of environmental and cultural changes can make for unexpected partnerships with extraordinary outcomes. In Roots of Wisdom, stories from four indigenous communities are brought to life, giving visitors real world examples of how traditional knowledge and cutting-edge Western science provide complimentary solutions to ecological and health challenges.

Idaho Tribes and the Environment This video, created by Outdoor Idaho, summarizes how Idaho's Native American tribes are playing a major role in natural resource management.

Finally, IdEEA is committed to diversity and inclusion. We are actively seeking to bring BIPOC perspectives and voices to our Board, along with opportunities to build new partnerships. We continue to work to ensure that our organization and the outdoors are safe and welcoming for everyone. Everyone has a place in the Idaho Environmental Education community.

  • Susan Wolfe, 2023

IdEEA Updates

Are you an IdEEA member? This incredibly affordable membership allows us to provide support to EE educators across the state and grants you access to members-only perks and events. Become a member today!

ICYMI: Updates from the IdEEA blog. This spring, we shared stories about Integrating Conservation Across Multiple Grades; Citizen Science: Learning Through Action’ and Idaho’s First Full Day Outdoor Kindergarten. Be sure to register your email on our website to be alerted whenever new articles are posted each month.

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 September 24, 2023 for inclusion in the fall edition being mailed in early October 2023.

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