GSNN Educator’s Toolbox: Professional Development, Resources, and Grants for August



Professional Development

Climate Change Communication for Environmental Educators Online Course (

Why is climate change such a polarizing topic? How can environmental educators address this loaded issue in their communities and programs? This course is for environmental education professionals interested in applying current research in climate change communication and psychology to their educational programs. Students will learn about recent research on climate change psychology and climate change communication and how concepts from these fields can be incorporated into EE programming.

NOTE: This course is not about climate change science or impacts but rather about effective practices for communicating about climate change through environmental education programs. This course is designed with North American educators in mind, although we are accepting a limited number of international participants. 


Course dates: September 6 – October 28, 2016


For more information and to register:

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education (

The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education works with schools and school districts to help them integrate Education for Sustainability (EfS) into their curriculum.  Core services include consulting and leadership development (on-site and off-site); professional development and faculty coaching; curriculum design, assessment, mapping, and alignment; and school and community partnerships.  The Cloud Institute holds an annual Summer Design Studio that enables educators, administrators, and program designers to learn how to design and embed EfS into curriculum, assessments, and programs.


This year’s Summer Design Studio will be held August 15-19 at the Omega Institute.  Learn more about this opportunity and other upcoming Cloud Institute offerings.


Green Strides Webinar Series Calendar (

The Green Strides Webinar Series provides school communities with the tools they need to reduce their schools’ environmental impact and costs; improve health and wellness; and teach effective environmental education.  It provides all schools access to the resources that help them move toward the Pillars of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award.  Sign up for Green Strides Webinar Series email updates to receive information on future webinars.


Green Teacher Webinars (  

Transforming School Food

Presenters: Jonathan Foley and Dan Hendry

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 7:30-8:30pm EST


The transformation of school food is long overdue.  Our two presenters will share two different approaches that are currently underway.  In the first, we will learn about California Thursdays, wherein participating school districts in that state serve locally grown, healthy foods in their cafeteria every Thursday.   Following that, we will learn about the Slow Cookers for Kids project, where a partnership with the culinary arts program at a local community college teaches grade 7-8 students how to shop and prepare inexpensive, healthy meals. Please be prepared to share your own ideas for transforming school food with all the participants in this upcoming session.


Introducing Biomimicry, Inspiration and Innovation for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Workforce

Presenter: Dorna Schroeter

Tuesday, October 25 2016 7:30-8:30pm EST

Are you looking for a way to inspire the next generation of world-builders – engineers, research scientists, chemists, architects, city planners? Biomimicry is a new discipline that offers teachers a compelling way to engage students of all ages and cross the boundaries traditionally found in education. It supports the goals of NGSS, CCLS, and STEAM and offers solution-based thinking while inspiring young people with a sense of the possible. As a link between design (arts) and science, it offers a model of relevancy because it will be part of many of the jobs of the future when today’s students are in the workforce. From elementary to high school, Biomimicry also provides a plethora of literature for linking ELA to science and the Reading Standards for Literature.

This webinar will explore:

  • What is Biomimicry
  • Why Biomimicry
  • How we view nature and how we view nature through a biomimicry lens
  • Principles of Biomimicry
  • Levels of Biomimicry
  • 3 – Bio-Inspired Case Studies
  • Resources
  • Biomimicry Today


Planet Protecting Superheroes

Presenter: Vanessa LeBourdais

Thursday, November 3 2016 7:30-8:30pm EST

Using story, arts, and gamification to engage diverse learners in environmental education.


North American Association for Environmental Education 2016 Annual Conference (

The 45th Annual North American Association for Environmental Education Conference and 13th Annual Research Symposium is being held in Madison, Wisconsin from October 18-22, 2016.


For more than four decades, NAAEE has convened one of the leading annual conferences for environmental education professionals, from classroom teachers and teacher educators to nature center staff to climate science researchers and everyone in between. Averaging 1,000 participants each year, the event is designed to promote innovation, networking, learning, and dissemination of best practices.  Held in advance of the conference, the annual Research Symposium attracts more than 150 established and new EE researchers to examine in-progress EE research and promote dialogue between researchers and practitioners.


Visit the conference website to learn more about the conference and stay up-to-date on the latest programming and registration information.


Project Learning Tree GreenSchools Training (

Project Learning Tree® (PLT) is a national environmental education program that provides PreK-12 teachers and informal educators with professional development, instructional materials aligned to state and national academic standards, service-learning programs, and grants for action projects. PLT’s GreenSchools program offers training for adults, including tips on starting a green school program, how to obtain equipment and collect data, and ways to empower your students to design and lead an action project that uses their STEM skills. It includes a set of 5 investigations for students to reduce energy and water use, recycle, and improve their school site, among other projects. For a PLT GreenSchools online course that can be completed in your own time, along with a listing of other PLT online courses and products, go to To attend an in-person professional development workshop in your state, go to


Shelbourne Farms (

Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization educating for a sustainable future. That means learning that links knowledge, inquiry, and action to help students build a healthy future for their communities and the planet.  Its home campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark.


Shelbourne Farms’ school programs staff support both student learning and professional development for educators. The ideas of place and sustainability are at the heart of its work.  Shelbourne Farms offers a variety of experiences that inspire deep connections to community, and a commitment to a healthy future.


Upcoming professional development opportunities for educators include:


ABCs of Farm-Based Education / October 16-18, 2016

Discover easy and fun ways to develop agricultural education programs with engaging, kid-tested, educator approved activities! If you are looking for new ideas for an existing program, or are starting to explore the opportunities of farm-based education, this workshop is for you! Spend three days of hands-on discussion and activity based learning and exploration of the Shelburne Farms campus, including the dairy, farmyard, garden, and forest classrooms. Experience activities from Shelburne Farms’ publications Project Seasons and Cultivating Joy and Wonder as we discuss ways to engage school groups and farm visitors.  Workshop topics include: creating a safe learning environment, developing programs, resource sharing and networking among participants, and more!


$250 includes materials, lunch, dinner & tax (scholarships available); optional accommodations $65/person/night, includes breakfast & tax (double occupancy)




Achieve the Core (

Achieve the Core offers a number of free, ready-to-use classroom resources designed to help educators understand and implement the Common Core and other college and career ready standards.


Become a National Farm to School Month Outreach Partner!

Will you join us this year? By signing up as an outreach partner, you commit to using your organization’s communication channels (social media, blog, website, newsletter, etc.) to promote National Farm to School Month. To help our partners do this, we send weekly mini-toolkits throughout October with sample messaging, social media copy, resources, and media highlights that can be used on your content channels. Your organization will also have the option to be listed on our Farm to School Month page at, which had more than 53,000 unique visitors last October. Sign on your organization by using this form.


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: BirdSleuth (

BirdSleuth is an inquiry-based science curriculum that engages kids in scientific study and real data collection through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s exciting citizen-science projects. BirdSleuth provides educators with kits that:

  • Encourage kids to answer their own questions about nature using the scientific process.
  • Spend time outdoors, connecting with nature by focusing on the fascinating sights, sounds, and behaviors of birds.
  • Motivate kids by the real-world importance of the data they enter online, which scientists use to understand and conserve birds.


BirdSleuth offers a variety of resources, as well as opportunities for in-person training, workshops, and online webinars for all types of educators who are looking for top notch professional development.  BirdSleuth even offers a free student publication, BirdSleuth Investigator, that is written by students, for students and can be downloaded from the website.


Deeper Learning: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (

This resource from the Hewlett Foundation explores Deeper Learning in K-12 schools; that is, students using their knowledge and skills in such a way that prepares them for real life.  You will learn what Deeper Learning is, why it is important, how it helps prepare students, and where you can find additional resources.


Dig In! Standards-Based Nutrition Education from the Ground Up (

Explore a world of possibilities in the garden and on your plate using ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables. Printed materials are available only to schools, childcare providers, and summer meal programs participating in one of USDA’s Child Nutrition programs. To request printed materials, use our online order form and allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.  All are welcome to download these materials and make copies.


EL Education Models of Excellence (

Models of Excellence is a curated, open-source collection of exemplary high-quality PreK-12 student work, along with resources to support the use of student work models to inspire and elevate teaching and learning. The purpose of this site is to catalyze the use of models to help build student skills and dispositions for success in college, careers, and life.  The student work found on the site comes from a wide range of preK-12 schools.


The Models of Excellence site is a product of EL Education, a national network of school partners focused on achieving whole school transformation through implementation of 38 core, research-based practices that make up the EL Education model and address every aspect of a school’s instructional program, culture, and leadership.


Getting Smart on Global Education and Equity (

This publication, authored by Getting Smart and VIF International Education, explores the characteristics of globally competent students and addresses how K-12 institutions can utilize global education practices to equitably prepare all students for success.


Getting Smart on Teachers as Collaborative Curriculum Designers (

This publication explores Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC), an online set of tools and resources created for educators, by educators after the College and Career Readiness (CCR) standards were announced. LDC helps teachers not only implement these standards in their classrooms, but also gain valuable professional development time while collaborating with other teachers. As the teachers who implement LDC in this bundle share, they are learning and growing right along with their students as they design their LDC modules.


Keep America Beautiful Recycle Recycle Bowl Competition (

Many schools have been slow to embrace recycling.  Recycle-Bowl hopes to galvanize recycling in elementary, middle, and high schools across America through a national K-12 recycling competition.  By participating, schools have the opportunity to win prizes and receive national recognition.  Visit the competition website to learn more about competing, view the official rules, and register your school.  Registration ends on Tuesday October 11th, 2016 at Midnight.


Learning Lab (

A product of the U.S. Green Building Council’s The Center for Green Schools, Learning Lab provides K-12 teachers and school leaders with comprehensive, project- and STEM-based curriculum that encourages student leadership, environmental literacy, and real-world action.


Discover best-in-class content, training, and tools. Access their curated catalogue of lesson plans, interactive projects, assessment opportunities, and other multimedia resources in English and Spanish. Lessons are mapped to meet current educational standards, and were created by educators, for educators.


Literacy Design Collaborative (

The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) seeks to ensure that every student in America graduates from high school with the literacy skills necessary for success in college and career. LDC is a teacher-created instructional design system that transforms educator practice through the use of online tools and resources that facilitate collaboration, content development, and professional learning to effectively implement College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) in K–12 classrooms.  The LDC website offers a host of resources, courses, and sample curricula to help teachers and educators integrate effective literacy instruction into their classrooms, content areas, and schools.


Project XQ: The Super School Project (

Project XQ: The Super School Project is an effort to rethink American high school education for the 21st century.  This includes ensuring students are masters of all fundamental literacies; holders of foundational knowledge; original thinkers for an uncertain world; learners for life; and generous collaborators for tough problems.  The project offers a series of 13 modules on its website that explore topics such as Students in the 21st Century; Student Agency and Engagement; and the Science of Adolescent Learning.  Check out all 13 modules and learn how to get involved in the project’s work on its website.


Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement (

From “Why, despite years of trying, have efforts to achieve lasting, effective school reform fallen short? What curricular and policy elements must be in place to move forward? How should the roles of teachers and education leaders be defined to best support the point of school? Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe answer these and other questions in Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement. Building on the premise of Understanding by Design, their acclaimed framework for curriculum, instruction, and assessment, the authors present a compelling argument for using the same approach to reach a grand goal: the reform of schooling as a whole. In their view, reform rests on six pillars: (1) a relentless focus on the long-term mission of school: enabling learners to demonstrate understanding and mature habits of mind; (2) a curriculum and assessment framework that honors the mission and ensures that content coverage is no longer the accepted approach to instruction; (3) a set of principles of learning that support all decisions about pedagogy and planning; (4) Structures, policies, job descriptions, practices, and use of resources consistent with mission and learning principles; (5) an overall strategy that includes ongoing feedback and adjustment; and (6) a set of tactics linked to strategy, including a planning process that uses backward design to accomplish the key work of reform. Practical, insightful, and provocative, Schooling by Design elaborates on each of these elements and presents educators with both the rationale and the methodology for closing the gap between what we say we want from school and what school actually delivers–for turning vision into reality.”




Captain Planet Foundation (

The Captain Planet Foundation is accepting the next round of applications for small grants totaling $500-$2500.  Grant activities must be project-based, performed by youth, and have real environmental outcomes.  Visit the website to learn more about eligibility and restrictions, and to fill out an application.  The next deadline for applications is January 31, 2017.


The Center for Green Schools School District Scholarships (

The Center for Green Schools wants to support your school district in successfully implementing whole-school sustainability, giving every student one more opportunity to succeed. The annual School District Scholarship provides support to a school district staff member who is currently undertaking sustainability work across the district’s schools. These staff receive targeted education and technical support from the Center and its partners for the entire school year, including:

  • Travel, lodging, and attendance at the Green Schools Conference and the pre-conference summit for School Sustainability Leaders.
  • Travel, lodging, and attendance at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.
  • $3,000 grant to assist in implementing a high-impact sustainability project.
  • Ongoing training through personal and small group coaching.
  • Limited complimentary year-long access to several school resources from USGBC, including Learning Lab, the Green Classroom Professional Certificate, and LEED Coach for school projects.

Applications are due August 19th. The online application requires two uploads: a letter from district leadership (details are within the application) and a two-page resume for the sustainability staff member. Please prepare these before sitting down to complete the application.


Chesapeake Bay Trust K-12 Environmental Education Mini-Grant (

The Chesapeake Bay Trust Mini Grant Program was established to provide accessible funds to schools, organizations, and agencies for preK-12 Environmental Education to educate students about their local watersheds and how they can become environmental stewards and make a difference in watershed health. To accomplish this goal the program supports meaningful outdoor learning experiences around a watershed issue investigation including field trips, fieldwork, student-led action projects, and schoolyard habitat projects, as well as building teacher capacity to implement environmental education including professional development trainings and programs to advance environmental literacy in the Chesapeake Bay region.  Up to $5,000 will be awarded to projects in Maryland, Delaware, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, or the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.


Due to high demand for field trips and other school-related requests, the Trust will offer 2 Mini Grant Environmental Education deadlines during the next fiscal year:  August 5, 2016 and January 13, 2017.  The Trust will not accept applications after 5pm on the day of the deadlines.


Eat. Learn. Live. And Grow Grants (

The 2016 Eat. Learn. Live. and Grow Grant sponsored by Chartwells K12 in partnership with offers funding for schools seeking to enhance their curriculum and offer food and nutrition education through an edible garden program.  Any public or private school serving students in grades K to 12 and planning a new or expanding an established garden program is eligible to apply. The selection of winners will be based on demonstrated or potential program impact and sustainability in addition to how well the program connects to the theme “How Do You Eat. Learn. Live. and Grow?”


Eighteen grant packages ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be awarded.  Each package will include:

  • Check to purchase plants, soil, garden equipment, and tools
  • KidsGardening curriculum package
  • Chartwells Eat. Learn. Live. Materials


In addition to the award packages, winners will be invited to attend a special Webinar Series conducted by experts at and sponsored by Chartwells K12.  Participants will also be able to share experiences and gain additional support through a special Eat. Learn. Live and Grow Forum designed to provide individualized assistance and ensure the success of each school garden program.


Applications must be completed online and submitted by August 31, 2016.


FirstEnergy STEM Classroom Grants (

FirstEnergy proudly supports classroom projects and teacher professional development initiatives focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  One of the ways they support these activities is by offering STEM education grants of up to $1,000 to educators at schools and youth groups in communities served by their electric operating companies, other areas where they have facilities, and where they do business.  More than 1,000 educators and youth group leaders have received classroom grants since the program began during the 1986-87 school year.  Applications for the 2016-2017 school year are now available and must be submitted by September 23, 2016.


GetEdFunding (

GetEdFunding is a curated collection of grants and awards created by education professionals for education professionals.  Its database was designed to be easy-to-use and reliable, and all grant and funding opportunities are updated daily.  Users can search by six criteria, including 43 areas of focus, 8 content areas, and 14 twenty-first century themes and skills, including environmental literacy.  Once registered on the site, users can save grants of interest and return to them at any time.


Lowes Toolbox for Education (

The Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program is funded by the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation, which has supported thousands of grassroots community and school projects in the communities where Lowe’s does business.  Now in its 10th year of helping build better schools and communities, the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program has provided over $42 million to more than 9,600 schools across the country.  The Fall 2016 grant cycle closes on September 26, 2016.  Visit the website to learn more about past grant recipients, view sample projects, and download a pre-application checklist.


The NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership Grants (

The NEA Foundation Learning and Leadership Grants support public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of the following two purposes:

  • Grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes, conferences, or action research.
  • Grants to groups fund collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson plan development, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff.


Grants awards are $2,000 for individuals and $5,000 for groups engaged in collegial study.  Applications may be submitted anytime throughout the year and are reviewed three times a year, every year.  Deadlines for applications are February 1, June 1, and October 15.


Project Learning Tree GreenWorks! Grants (

Project Learning Tree® (PLT), a national environmental education program for PreK-12 educators, offers GreenWorks! grants up to $1,000 to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects that link classroom learning to the real world.  Students implement an action project they help design to green their school or to improve an aspect of their neighborhood’s environment. The projects partner students with their whole school, local businesses, and/or community organizations, and provide opportunities for student leadership. The funds can be used by students to implement recycling programs at their school, conserve water and energy, or establish school gardens and outdoor classrooms, for example. To be eligible to apply, an educator must have attended a PLT training, either in-person or online, that also provides them with PLT lesson plans and other resources to help integrate these projects and environmental education into their curriculum. Apply by September 30, 2016.


The Shell Science Teaching Award (

A partnership between Shell Oil Company and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), this award recognizes one outstanding classroom teacher (grades K–12) who has had a positive impact on his or her students, school, and the community through exemplary science teaching.  The recipient of the Shell Science Teaching Award will receive $10,000, as well as an all-expense-paid trip (along with the two finalists) to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education. All three will be honored at the Awards Banquet. The recipient will also be recognized at the Teacher Awards Banquet. The 10 semifinalists will receive certificates of distinction.  Completed applications must be received by January 6, 2017.


Target Field Trip Grants (

It has become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target began offering Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide in 2007.  Since then, Target has made it possible for millions of students to go on a field trip. Each Field Trip Grant is valued up to $700. Grant applications are accepted until 11:59 p.m. CT on October 1, 2016.  Visit the website for further details and to see past recipients.