July 1, 2011
Successful PK-12 Sustainability Institute Wraps Up
This week more than 60 eager teachers, educators, students and environmental advocates attended the 2011 Education for Sustainability PK-12 Midwest Summer Institute, a program for school teachers sponsored by Webster University, The Missouri Botanical Garden and the Saint Louis Zoo.
From presentation sessions at Webster's main campus to on-site study at the Botanical Garden, the institute took educators through all topics "green" - how best to use the Earth's resources for maximum sustainable purpose. The institute helped teachers establish an understanding for global sustainability, observe sustainability in action and, ultimately, learn how to take action to create more sustainable schools where they teach.
Lori Diefenbacher, coordinator the Education for Global Sustainability program in Webster's School of Education, played a big part in pulling off the successful three-day event.
Interactive presentations, learning exercises and much more from the first day included:
- Louise Bradshaw from the St. Louis Zoo Education Division talking about climate change and citizen science
- Earthways Center of the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MBG) speakers Kim Petzing and Katy Mike Smaistria speaking about the power consumer choice
- Litzsinger Road Ecology Center spokesman Eddie Jones, who specializes in outdoor learning opportunities
- Brian Pelletier of St. Louis' own Kakao Chocolate, where all-natural ingredients are used
- "Schoolyard chicken expert" and Maplewood-Richmond Heights teacher Debi Gibson
The second day brought teachers to the Missouri Botanical Gardens for presentations and garden tours from Botanical Garden representatives speaking on a number sustainability Gardens initiatives such as:
- storm water management
- changing "linear" thinking into to "cyclular" thinking
- waste management
- energy efficiency
- institutional commitments to green projects
- investing in the operational environment and employee empowerment
Practice What You Preach
Missouri Botanical Gardens education coordinator Katy Mike Smaistria and Webster professor Lori Diefenbacher enjoy a "sustainable" lunch.
Lunch on the first day of the institute consisted of beans, vegetables, yogurt, fruit, burrito fixings and more - featuring all St. Louis area organically grown foods except for the organic rice, which came from California.
No plastic plates, silverware or cups were in use as the institute organizers insisted on "real everything-no disposable" and paid extra to have real kitchen items used to avoid the event producing more landfill waste.
One theme resonated throughout this day and seemed to be the mantra of those who work so passionately for the Gardens, saying they all hear themselves repeating each day: "Everything I've learned about sustainability, I've learned from a plant."