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Empowering Educators: Enhancing Conservation Curriculum Skills

Sep 20, 2023


  • Education News

MJV’s education programs are one example of the partnership work that is the backbone of our organization. Together with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, we were able to partner with the San Diego Zoo, University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, and Lakeland Community College in Mentor, OH, to offer professional development opportunities for educators. The response from our participants makes it clear that these partnerships are a great thing.

“This was the best workshop/conference I have been to. Each activity/session felt intentional and had a purpose for each person in the room. I have learned so much and feel connected to a community that values nature and our native organisms. I loved every minute of this trip and can see the hard work everyone put into making it amazing. Thank you for supporting not only U.S.-based organizations and teachers but having participants from Mexico as well! It was an incredible experience. I am so grateful…” NAMI participant, summer 2023

The North American Monarch Institute – San Diego, CA; Mentor, OH; and Madison, WI

Since 2011,  the North American Monarch Institute (NAMI) has brought together K-12 classroom teachers and non-formal educators with the goal of providing experiences and resources to study monarchs, along with other pollinators, and the habitats that support them.

The Monarchs and More curriculum is the foundation of these workshops. It provides teacher-tested opportunities for students to develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the natural world. The curriculum contains classroom and outdoor activities for grades K-2nd, 3rd-5th, and middle school, with lessons that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Along with the curriculum, throughout the workshop, participants learn about monarch biology and ecology, current research, and conservation efforts. Each participant is eligible to apply for funding to create or improve a schoolyard garden habitat for pollinators. We are excited to share that over 1,000 educators have completed the NAMI training since it began twelve years ago. They each have created plans to guide their students to make connections with how all the components of the environment fit together. No doubt, these experiences will encourage many of these students to become involved in conservation efforts.

An extra bonus is how the educators in these workshops build a sense of community that has created lasting collaborations throughout the monarch’s range. Katie-Lyn Bunney, MJV Education Manager, shared, “We’ve seen some wonderful collaborations among participants from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Some have connected with each other’s classrooms, conducted pen pal projects, and formed professional networks to continue learning about monarchs and other organisms in the context of classroom learning.”

“Conservation starts with observation, notice what is there, learn about what is there, and protect and share...” -NAMI participant, summer 2023

“I’m not sure how much more I could have learned!! What an amazing opportunity for myself and all of the teachers that were here!” -NAMI participant, summer 2023

Learn more about NAMI

Advanced Schoolyard Ecology Explorations in Madison

You can’t have too much of a good thing, especially when talking about helping teachers provide authentic outside experiences for their students.  Advanced Schoolyard Ecology Explorations (ASEE), offered in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs and the University of Wisconsin – Madison Arboretum, was developed to provide NAMI alumni with more tools and resources focused on independent schoolyard investigations and community science.

The focus of ASEE is to look more closely at schoolyard ecology and engage students in community science. The participants practice all components of the Process of Science, from making observations and creating testable questions to sharing the results of investigations in a way that models how to incorporate independent investigations in the classroom. Some of the investigations we have done in ASEE are connected to eBird, MLMP, iNaturalist, Odonata Central, Leaf Pack Network, The Great Sunflower Project, iTree/My Tree, and the National Phenology Network.

“I wasn't sure what to expect, and this class really blew me away! So much information and activities all designed to be easy to take back to school.” -ASEE participant, summer 2023

“This was by far one of the BEST conferences I have ever attended. I learned so much, and I honestly thought I knew a lot coming in. I absolutely loved that it was informative and science-based, and you allowed us to figure out how it would work in my classroom.” -ASEE participant, summer 2023

Learn more about ASEE

While some of our NAMI and ASEE courses are offered by invitation only, keep an eye on MJV spaces for opportunities that will be open to any educator. We plan to offer these additional NAMI workshops in Minnesota in 2024. The Monarchs and More Curriculum is available for purchase in the MJV Store, with different versions for K-2, grades 3-5, and middle school.

If your school or school district is interested in professional development, we also contract to offer training and presentations as our schedule allows. Please visit our Program Services page to learn more.

Photos by Katie-Lyn Bunney