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Fall Into Learning with Nature

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Terri Jacobson checking out the wolfsnail by Julie Owen

I spent an interesting day and a half at the fall conference of the Mississippi Environmental Education Alliance (MEEA). I brought a wolfsnail (thanks to my friend Julie’s kids) to my presentation. Terri Jacobson is looking at the snail with a private eye loupe. I attended Jacobson’s private eye workshop and I learned a lot that I’ll use in my work with kids. Using a private eye is the next best thing to having a camera kitted out with a macro lens. I had a fun time coming up with “it looks like … ” lists for a gum ball from a sweet gum tree (scarab beetle, pecan shell innards, baby bird’s beak, etc.) and a sprig of flowers.

Fib poem by Nicole, Andrea, and me. Private eye images from Queen Anne's Lace

Fib poem by Nicole, Andrea, and me. Private eye images from Queen Anne's Lace

Nicole Smith and Andrea Schumann, who work in education and naturalist outreach at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and I worked together to come up with a list of things our sprigs of queen anne’s lace reminded us of and then we wrote a poem using words from our list. We wrote a fib poem. (The lines have syllables in this pattern: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8, like the Fibonacci sequence.)
Star
Burst
Spider
Crawling ‘cross
Dandelion puff
Hunting for a cotton lollipop

Julie Owen examining a sweet gum ball

Julie Owen examining a sweet gum ball

Another great part of the MEEA conference for me was an introduction to Robin Whitfield and her work. Robin introduced herself as an explorer, which she says is a hard job description for people to understand.

Robin Whitfield

Robin Whitfield

They are more accepting of the title “artist,” but Robin doesn’t believe “artist” fully captures what she does. She spends much of her time outside — exploring, creating, and teaching. Using methods such as observational drawing, printing, stenciling, dipping, and pigment sampling, Robin interacts with swamps and other natural settings. A member of the Mississippi Arts Commission’s artist roster, Robin has worked with boys and girls clubs, alternative schools, middle school science students, and adults. My friend, Julie, attended Robin’s hands-on workshop and put up a blog post, including a photo gallery here.

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Donna Yowell of the Mississippi Urban Forestry Council


The MEEA conference was sponsored by the Mississippi Urban Forestry Council and Donna Yowell, the executive director, shared some interesting projects the council sponsors for kids and schools. Older students, in particular, can get involved in inventorying green spaces in their communities and presenting landscaping improvement plans to local governing bodies. Schools can apply for grants to add trees to their campuses to provide shade, buffers, or edible fruit. Yowell said students get excited about a computer tool that allows them to do a virtual makeover.

Music by John Stark and friends

Music by John Stark and friends

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