Environmental Education Event on Monday, March 4th!

Spring into Science Education Expo: Monday March 4
Monday, March 4th, 2013
4:30pm to 7:00pm
in the lobby of the United Way Building (1709 Ben Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103)
Register at EcoExpress.EventBrite.com.

On Monday, March 4th, 2013, our EcoExpress program will co-host the Spring into Science Education expo with the Philadelphia Education Fund’s Math+Science Coalition. In its third year, Spring into Science Education is a FREE networking & educational event for local educators. Educators of grades K through 12 will learn about inspiring resources and ideas that can be immediately brought back into the classroom!

Highlights of the Spring into Science Education expo include:

  • The premiere of our newest documentary on Rain Gardens
  • Exhibits by Local Environmental, Science, and Math Education Experts
  • Hands-On Activity Demonstrations
  • Refreshments
  • Prizes
  • And more!



Participating Organizations Include:

Bartram’s Garden, Delaware Valley Green Building Council’s Green Schools Program, Earth Force, Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center, iPRAXIS, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia Science Festival, Philadelphia Water Department Public Education, Weavers Way Community Programs, and more to be announced



REGISTER BY MARCH 1st at EcoExpress.EventBrite.com.



PA Master Naturalist Guest Blog: Nature Journaling

Continuing on with our PA Master Naturalist Guest Blogs, John McGlaughlin discusses nature journaling.

Well, here we are, a few weeks into the Naturalist program and the work is rolling in! One of our weekly at-home assignments is to keep a nature journal. Hmm, I initially thought, what good can come of this? I haven’t kept a journal since 3rd grade when I wrote about important things like what color eye-mask I would wear if I were one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My initial reservations with this assignment’s purpose were eventually subdued after reminding myself that as naturalists we are encouraged to explore, observe and reflect on the natural world. What better way to synthesize these 3 tasks then by keeping a nature journal?!

Nature JournalingThe art of nature journaling has been around for a while. Pliny the Elder put together a mean nature journal in ‘Naturalis Historia’ a few thousand years ago where he collected all the natural phenomena of his day that he could find. And the tradition continued into the modern era with authors like John Muir, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold all keeping nature journals that are thought to contain some of the most important ecological writing of the 20th century. And then there’s me to carry on the torch.

So where to begin? Us naturalists-in-training were informed that a good way to start a nature journal is by selecting a special ‘nature spot’ outside that you can visit regularly in order to expand your sensitivity to and familiarity with nature. Then after your nature spot’s all mapped out you need to ‘get in the zone’ by sharpening your five senses to tune in with the natural world. Finally, once your nature mojo is flowing, you need to make careful observations of your nature spot, reflect upon those observations and finally record them in your trusty nature journal… easy enough!

Each week we’re assigned a different way of experiencing our nature spot to broaden and enrich our nature journaling. For example, previous assignments included wearing a blindfold at our natural spot to alter the typical optical-centric perspective of the environment. Another week we were directed to look for evidence of the water cycle in action and to visualize the changes our nature spot undergoes during each part of the cycle.

This past week we were charged with visiting our nature spot to observe the variety of species living there, with the specific task of identifying the producers, consumers and decomposers. For those in need of a brush-up in science-speak, producers make their own food, consumers feed on producers or other consumers, and decomposers eat and break down dead producers/consumers/decomposers. I brought my camera along for this assignment to provide a video log of my experience. See ya next time!

Guest Blog: Introducing Master Naturalist John McGlaughlin

As mentioned in our last post, we are beginning our series of Guest Blogs with PA Master Naturalists. Here Naturalist-in-training John introduces himself and shares his video: “Birds, Arthropods, and Herpetology“.

John McGlaughlin Hi all,
My name is John McGlaughlin and I am a PA Master Naturalist in training. I hail from the Roxborough section of Philadelphia and am a Public Defender by day and a Naturalist by night. I live a stone’s throw away from Fairmount park and spent much of my life ‘back the crick’ enjoying the many splendors of the great outdoors. The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is another great resource that is also right around the corner from my house. I was even lucky enough to intern with the environmental education department of the Schuylkill Center during my college days at Temple University. Roxborough has so many outdoor opportunities that it’s earned the nickname Philbilladelphia.

The PA Master Naturalist program has been nothing short of amazing so far. I heard about the program back in January by way of e-mail and had my application sent out the following week. I worked as an environmental educator a few years back at the Schuylkill Center and another place called the Ashokan Field Campus up in the Catskills. But then law school disrupted most of my environmental ed. opportunities and I’ve been hankering to get back into the field ever sine. I’m hoping to use my newfound Naturalist position to get back into teaching young people and sharing some of the great things I’m learning in the program.

So, everybody asks ‘What do you do in the Master Naturalist program?’ Well, so far we’ve done a whole lot. The course consists of weekly ecological readings, in-class lectures with environmental professionals, full day field trips and periodic nature journaling. Our coursework will culminate in a capstone project where each Naturalist develops a service project and then presents their idea to a panel of environmental experts.

This past week we focused on arthropods and ornithology but previous Naturalist topics included Wissahickon Geology, Biodiversity, Upland Habitats, Watersheds and Natural Selection. To get a better sense of the hands-on component of the Naturalist Program I brought my camera along for our ornithology/herpetology/arthropods session this past weekend to capture some of our adventures from the field.


New Feature: Guest Blogs from PA Master Naturalists!

People throughout Pennsylvania are doing amazing things to protect and preserve our environment. We at GreenTreks always strive to share these stories with you — both in our documentaries and through our blog posts.

We are thrilled now to be able to share the experiences of two people going through the Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program!

The Pennsylvania Master Naturalist program is a growing, statewide initiative designed to train master volunteers to conduct conservation education and outreach, citizen science, and service in their communities. The Program emphasizes community-based conservation by forging vital partnerships among community members and local organizations through service activities. The Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education administers the Master Naturalist program.

Over the course of the next several weeks, Master Naturalists Donna and John will be guest-blogging on the GreenTreks blog. We hope you enjoy hearing about their work in our community!

Greening at School: a Learning Tool for Students, Community

From US EPA Region 3 Press Office

(PHILADELPHIA – April 26, 2012) A $200,000 grant announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will help fund projects to make South Philadelphia’s George W. Nebinger School and surrounding streets greener and healthier.

EPA’s grant, with matching funding from the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the nonprofit Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), brings the total award to $400,000 that will go towards a host of green features at Nebinger School and the adjacent neighborhood. The projects are part of the city’s wide-ranging plan, Green City, Clean Waters, to control pollutant-laden stormwater that inundates the city’s sewer system and causes sewage overflows into area waterways. EPA and the City of Philadelphia signed a partnership agreement earlier this month to help ensure the success of the city’s plan. Continued below >>

For a look at what the Albert M. Greenfield in Center City has done as part of its Greening Greenfield Initiative, check out this video:

Green Schools: Albert Greenfield Elementary from GreenTreks Network on Vimeo.

“This grant will help the city realize the environmental, economic and community benefits of the Green City, Clean Waters plan,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “In controlling stormwater runoff, we’ll also be helping students appreciate ways of preventing pollution and creating cost-effective, high-performance green streets adjacent to the school.”

In addition to the benefits for Philadelphia, controlling stormwater runoff is critical for reducing pollution to the Delaware River and Bay – the focus of joint efforts by PDE, EPA, and PWD as part of the National Estuary Program. All three are now teaming up with the School District of Philadelphia to develop what is intended as a national and international model for stormwater management and educational programming at the Nebinger School. The school is located at 6th and Carpenter Street in South Philadelphia.

Efforts at the Nebinger School will focus on using green stormwater infrastructure as a classroom, field and laboratory tool, and demonstration opportunity for students and the community. The green tools that may be integrated into the design of the school yard include rain gardens, porous play surfaces and pavement, and stormwater planters. These features will help manage stormwater runoff from the school yard and select adjacent streets.

Several streets close to the Nebinger School have been chosen as potential Green Street projects based on critical connections they create between significant neighborhood amenities and businesses, such as the Weccacoe Playground and the business corridor on Passyunk Avenue between 6th and 10th streets, which is part of the Passyunk Business Improvement District. Green tools that may be integrated into these Green Streets include stormwater trees and tree trenches.

Officials said the project may provide an opportunity for Philadelphia students to collaborate with similar schools in the City of Rio de Janeiro, Philadelphia’s sister city in stormwater management. This collaboration is an extension of the Joint Initiative on Urban Sustainability (JUIS), a partnership among the U.S. EPA, Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the City of Rio de Janeiro, and the City of Philadelphia, which was formed to advance sustainable cities.

For more information on the Green City, Clean Waters plan and the EPA-city partnership, visit PWD’s website >>