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01/22/10 – Green PEAS — BEEN notes and suggestions for next meeting‏

Hello PEAS,

I was delighted to be able to attend the (free, all-day) Berkshire Environmental Educators Network (BEEN)conference at BCC a few Thursdays ago.  It generated a lot of good ideas and inspiring activities.
To give you some idea of the topics-of-the-day and some activities we could do at Muddy Brook this Spring, my notes are reported below.

Also, I know that Corey and Suze are busy with the Principal Search now, but I thought I’d throw out a couple of ideas for our next meeting — before Febrary Break so we can plan something for the Spring.

Anyone available to meet on Tuesday, Feb. 9th at 8:45am  -or-  Thursday, Feb. 11th at 2:15pm ?
I guess just state your preference and let everyone know.

Thanks much,


BEEN Berkshire Environmental Educators Network (Thursday 1/14/10)

Amazing FREE all-day conference at BCC where 30 or so environmental educators and presenters/providers gathered to share info. and network about what they are doing…

Jane Burke from Flying Cloud Institute, Cynthia G. from CET were major organizers, as well as Housatonic Valley Association… many came from HELP = Housatonic Environmental Literary Project

Plus various school teachers from Berkshire County, from elementary through MCLA…

Including our own MBE representatives who provided a workshop on “Composting in the Classroom” (by Jessica Wilcox + Jessica Redman, 4th grade teacher)

And Robert Hoechster from The Nutrition Center = who is going into MBE classrooms and cooking (smoothies, stir-fries, snacks)… and totally bypassing Kathy Sullivan in the cafeteria.

Other individuals I spoke with: Thom Pecoraro from Westside Farm Project = Pittsfield’s Community Garden, needing help. Holly (outdoor adventurist) who manages Bascom Lodge at the top of Mt. Greylock, and wants everyone to hold a meeting there and see the wonders of our own mountains!

All groups/educators are gearing up for the annual YES [Youth Environmental Summit] at BCC in May/June (4th grade through high schoolers, sometimes 3rd graders are invited for a field trip). This summit hosts 250 students from 14 Berkshire Co. schools presenting their own Environmental Projects – power point presentations or hands-on workshops. A very wonderful peer-review and learning for all, presenters and attendees. If interested, contact: Dale Abrams for BEEN or other Organizers: CET, Housatonic Valley Association, and Mass Audubon Society.

Out of 6 possible workshops (from in-class composting to math & nature w/in the curriculum framework), the 2 excellent workshops I attended were:

1) ACRES Education Program (K-5th) = an After-school Garden Project at Cummington’s (small, public) Berkshire Trail School with Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton (managed by Desiree):

Their program met after-school for one hour 1x per week for 8 weeks (similar to ours).

The Model didn’t even need a garden: e.g. talking about food (food bowls), presenting healthy snacks (discussing where food comes from), felting boxes (real wool, where it comes from, how to make it, etc.), making butter (we did this at the conference – easy and exciting!), seeds (both starting + saving them), and flowers (painting + hammering). Making t-shirt design stencils out of veggies/plants/flowers.

The 2 mom-instructors also helped the students design and create their own school garden, that about 8 other parents helped out with from beginning to end (through the summer) until their Harvest Day and Meal was shared by whole community in the fall.

Also they had 2 fieldtrips to Holiday Brook Farm (20 min. away): maple syruping in February, seed starting in June (with transportation paid for by their PTO + donations from whole business community for the garden and classroom needs). Success!

My take-home thoughts: Wow—we have a garden RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET! No transportation costs there… LET’S REALLY USE IT!!! Who would like to help do an after-school program this spring?

How to deeply connect Project Sprout to MBE??? After-school AND in-school projects.

Note: The district is not funding after-school programs this spring, but I’m told that the PTA is… Christine?

I will contact Mike Powell to see what’s up with the garden and the Sprout students.

With schools everywhere falling over themselves to try to get a Farm-to-School program we certainly don’t want to miss out on this very valuable opportunity in supporting our own Farm Project right here under our noses. How to do it?

2) [Mrs. Raser] Mass Audubon Society’s overview of current INVASIVES: focusing on Purple Loosestrife, Zebra Mussels, and (the all new) “Rock Snot” = the single-celled algae (diatom) invasive currently in NH, VT & CT River and heading our way… spread by boats, fishing gear, waiters, etc. killing everything it covers, insects, microbes, all the small unseen life that our ecosystem needs!!!

See Mass Audubon’s website for more detailed info. and classroom curriculum. Their 2012 program will present Invasives Species in classrooms.

Great Ideas from Mrs. Raser for MBE:

A SPRING CLEAN: e.g. canoe/boat washes (rather than car washes) = free at Stockbridge car wash (including fishing gear), and/or Spruce-Up Muddy Brook = garden, grounds, etc.,

BEETLE REARING & RELEASE Project out back of MBE to rid the grounds of purple loosestrife: begin in Fall, end in Spring, observe/track for 2+ years. [“Loosestrife vs. Beetles: who will win?”]

[Note: 2 Beetle releases already done in Berkshire Co. 1) south end of Stockbridge Bowl, where results are good; and at 2) Brewster Pond (southern end of Beartown near Sandisfield?). The Beetles have been tested for decades and are state approved since 1992 – they only eat Loosestrife. Galerucella calmariensis + Galerucella pusilla ]

Other IDEAS:

Can we tap into the Annual Atlantic Salmon Release w/ Hartsville Hatchery (Mt. Everett School does this). Waiting to hear from a teacher there.

Note: There’s an upcoming Bio Blitz (June 4 + 5) in Pittsfield State Forest

24-hour listing of all wildlife seen. Can we do something with this?

Contact CET (Cynthia).

from Berk Eagle (1/20/10): Bat Activity Report contact local Div. of Fisheries & Wildlife office: Andrew Madden (413) 684-1646… they are desperate to hear what’s going on re bats and the White Nose virus.

Also, from the upcoming MEES Conference in March (3/3/10 at Holy Cross College)

There is a workshop on Frogwatch for school groups (Suze?)

And, MEES is holding a workshop re Indoor Air Quality and Human Health: Non-Toxic Green Cleaning Home Kit [Also, see article from Aug.-Nov. ‘09 issue of Our Berkshire Green mag: “Can our Schools Cause ADD/ADHD?”]

Getting some Resource Books for MBE teachers: re Project Wet (rivers, oceans, etc), Wild (wildlife), Project Learning Tree (trees) & WOW (Windows on the Wild) all good curricula for all level of teachers

[Berk. Pulse African Drummer Aimee Gelinas is a certified trainer/enviro. educator ]

Other DoAble ideas I got over Xmas:

Making these non-disposable products available at MBE for cafeteria use:

* I emailed Snack TAXI – Food Movers (1/18) to ask about fundraising possibilities. Cute cloth bags w/ nylon liners and velcro closures (like a fancy sandwich bag) in various sizes that go from $7-$9… made by a family in Plainfield, MA. NOTE: Schools keep 50% of all funds raised.

* To-Go Ware bamboo utensils and a pair of chopsticks in a nylon pouch (I bought from Co-op for $10) ….. to be sold at school functions. I haven’t contacted them yet about fundraising… but their repeat utensils are 20% off now (from $10.95). Could we use the PTA for this non-profit status (see below)?

New non-profit/educational customers please note:

· You must supply a valid non-profit name and tax ID number.

· All products are sold in bundles of 10.

· A minimum first purchase of $125.00 will apply.

· All new customers are required to pay by credit card.

· Terms may be available on subsequent orders.

THAT’s IT! Thanks for reading.