Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

Tales from the Field

Building Regional Networks: Lessons Learned in Collaboration and Community

December 9, 2021: Tales from the Field

In January, 2020, the BEETLES team sent out a request for proposals for a new funding opportunity designed to strengthen the field of environmental and outdoor science through regional capacity building. With the support of the National Science Foundation, BEETLES offered six small grants for region-building efforts among environmental and outdoor science organizations. In part, […]

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Regional Networks Tale from the Field: River Cities

December 9, 2021: Tales from the Field

By Jen Schnakenberg, Amanda Schuster, Camila Rivera-Tinsley, Heather Berenson, Eva Barinas, and Kim Smith-Woodford How does a group of 20 near-strangers in a Zoom room become a community of learners? How does a diverse group of practitioners in environmental education and allied fields begin to confront bias and center racial equity in their work? In […]

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Regional Network Tales from the Field: Native Voices Project

December 9, 2021: Tales from the Field

By Sean Hill The Native Voices Project is a regional collaborative in the Upper Feather River Watershed between local educators and leaders from the Mountain Maidu community. The Mountain Maidu, the native inhabitants of this landscape, have suffered centuries of devastation due to American Colonialism. This project is a step towards restorative justice, with goals […]

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Regional Network Tales from the Field: San Diego

December 9, 2021: Tales from the Field

In San Diego, there are over 50 environmental education nonprofits that work with school districts to provide outdoor science programming. As most of the organizations are non-profits, staff are busy managing their programs and often have limited opportunities for interactions with peers from other organizations despite sharing similar goals and challenges. Although there are a […]

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Regional Network Tales from the Field: Alabama Environmental Education Summits

December 9, 2021: Tales from the Field

Alabama Environmental Education Summits (AEES) – Building bridges and breaking down barriers in Alabama In our effort to strengthen the quality and quantity of environmental education in Alabama, AEES convened 1 statewide and 3 regional summits. Our initial thoughts were that leaders of informal environmental education were our primary audience, and our goal was to […]

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Regional Network Tales from the Field: Philadelphia

December 9, 2021: Tales from the Field

By Erin McCool Philadelphia is home to a complex tapestry of neighborhoods, each with its own challenges and strengths. Philadelphia students represent some of the most diverse in the region. While we are surrounded by nature, with 400 community gardens, 80 neighborhood parks and acres of federally protected open space, there is still great need […]

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Working with Large Groups: Interview with Korena David

February 19, 2021: Tales from the Field

Some program activity groups have 30+ students in them, plus chaperones. We’ve heard some folks say, “The groups I work with are too large to do student-centered BEETLES stuff.” We’ve heard other folks say, “Working with large groups forces you to make things student-centered, because it’s too hard to make it instructor-centered.” We interviewed Korena […]

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Outdoor In-Person Learning: Partnerships in the Pandemic Spotlight Series

January 28, 2021: News | Tales from the Field

By Cristina Edwards and Emilie Lygren Over the course of the past year, the BEETLES team has heard many stories about how the environmental education community is adapting to the Covid pandemic. From Zoom classrooms to widely spaced outdoor stump circles, this community has shined with its creativity and flexibility in continuing to teach––both in-person […]

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Partnerships in the Pandemic Spotlight: Santa Cruz Outdoor Science School

January 26, 2021: News | Tales from the Field

By Cristina Edwards and Emilie Lygren Heather MacDougall Molloy directs Santa Cruz Outdoor Science School, a residential outdoor science program located in Santa Cruz, CA. She is also an active participant in efforts to develop and implement an environmental literacy plan focused on increasing outdoor learning opportunities for students across Santa Cruz County. We talked […]

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Partnerships in the Pandemic Spotlight: North Cascades Institute

January 26, 2021: News | Tales from the Field

by Cristina Edwards and Emilie Lygren Jeff Giesen is the Associate Director at North Cascades Institute (NCI), a conservation organization focused on transformative learning experiences in nature in Northwest Washington State. Although NCI is predominantly a residential outdoor learning program, during the pandemic, they have partnered with several partner organizations to offer in-person outdoor learning […]

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Tale from the Field: Designing a Custom 4-Day Curriculum with BEETLES, Part 2

April 27, 2020: Tales from the Field

By Emilie Lygren, Kevin Beals, and Jedda Foreman In the spring of 2019, Waskowitz Outdoor Education Center hired BEETLES to develop a curriculum for their 4-day residential outdoor school program. The curriculum was to include BEETLES activities connected to the theme of Ecosystems, Matter, and Energy, that would engage students in science practices while building […]

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The Other Side of the Coin: Supporting Districts to Implement Environmental Literacy at Scale

January 22, 2020: Tales from the Field

BEETLES has now been supporting outdoor science programs since 2012. Since then, we’ve: Published almost 80 resources, including professional learning sessions, student activities, implementation support guides, videos, research/practice briefs, etc. And 15 more documents are currently in publication pipeline, in some form or another.  Conducted 10 weeklong Leadership Institutes, working with over 200 organizations across […]

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Tale from the Field: Professional Learning at Scale

November 6, 2019: Tales from the Field

Mass Audubon is a nature conservation nonprofit with 20 nature centers throughout Massachusetts. They also have 75 permanent education staff and hire nearly 500 seasonal educators per year. BEETLES interviewed Education Coordinator Melissa Hansen about the challenges and opportunities that come with working with instructors across multiple sites, and how Mass Audubon is building a […]

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Tale from the Field: Making a “Destination Hike” Optional to Give Instructors More Flexibility

September 25, 2019: Tales from the Field

by Emilie Lygren We all want high quality student experiences in our programs, but sometimes the policies or structure of our organization can unintentionally get in the way. We all want high quality student experiences in our programs, but sometimes our program’s policies or structure can unintentionally get in the way. This Tale from the […]

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Collaboration Spotlight: BEETLES and Social Emotional Learning at the BOOST Conference

June 27, 2019: Tales from the Field

Outward Bound USA first came into contact with BEETLES in 2015, when a team from Thompson Island Outward Bound– the only Outward Bound USA sites with an explicit focus on science– came to a Leadership Institute. They were immediately hooked, and saw potential for wide-reaching implications across the organization nation-wide. Fast-forward a couple of years, […]

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Collaboration Spotlight: BEETLES Oregon Leadership Institute

June 27, 2019: Tales from the Field

For some time, BEETLES has been interested in encouraging and helping establish regional “hubs” of outdoor science programs. Part of our motivation is to encourage/promote regional capacity to support professional learning communities for program leaders, educators, and other key stakeholders. We’ve hoped that these regional hubs could collaborate on professional learning experiences, and exchange of […]

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Tale from the Field: How Our BEETLES Implementation Was a Learning Experience for Everyone Involved

May 21, 2019: Tales from the Field

By Keith Williams, Executive Director, Richard Garber, Director of Education, and Salena Garber, Education Manager, NorthBay, Elk Neck State Park, Maryland. (Note: This post was originally published in the BEETLES Guide for Program Leaders. Check the Guide for Program Leaders publication out for additional implementation support and Tales from the Field.) When Daksha and I came […]

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Tale from the Field: Inquiry Fever With Students

August 21, 2018: Tales from the Field

What can BEETLES activities and approaches look like with a group of students? Outdoor science education consultant and past BEETLES Leadership Institute attendee Sarah Johnson writes about introducing several foundational BEETLES student activities and Exploration Routines on the first day of a summer camp, and an experience of “Inquiry Fever” and exciting student-led investigations that followed. […]

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Tale from the Field: BEETLES in a Day Program

July 17, 2018: Tales from the Field

When BEETLES began hosting Leadership Institutes, we focused on Residential Outdoor Science Schools. Over later Leadership Institutes, we have expanded our audience to other outdoor educational programs including nature preserves, day programs, nature centers, garden programs, and other types of programs. Luana Rivera Palacio of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy attended our December 2017 Leadership […]

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Oops! How I Wish We Hadn’t Introduced BEETLES to Staff, and What We’re Doing Now

June 28, 2018: Tales from the Field

From Paul Raia, the Director of Caritas Creek Environmental Education Program, Occidental California After attending a BEETLES Institute, I was extremely excited about implementing BEETLES, and my work partner and I decided that we wanted to completely transform our program to being BEETLES-based as quickly as possible. During our next staff training, we attempted to […]

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BEETLES Strategies in History Programming

June 25, 2018: Tales from the Field

The Ocean Institute Outdoor Education Department attended the BEETLES August 2015 Leadership Institute in Santa Cruz, California. The Ocean Institute has a well-respected outdoor science program, and they also run a large history program for 4th graders in California. The Ocean Institute has used what they learned at the BEETLES Leadership Institute to strengthen their […]

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Tale from the Field: Inter-Institute Collaboration on Professional Learning for Elementary School Teachers

April 6, 2018: Tales from the Field

Sarah Johnson of Wild Rose Education and Sara Monson of Walking Mountains Science Center are both based in western Colorado. They attended two different BEETLES Leadership Institutes– in August and December 2017, and had heard of each other prior to the Institute. Sara Monson had grant funding from the EPA to facilitate a daylong workshop […]

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Paige Marley, Jamee Puccio, Camp Tyler Outdoor School

Tale from the Field: After a Leadership Institute

January 15, 2018: Tales from the Field

When Jamee Puccio and Paige Marley returned to their organization after participating in the BEETLES August 2017 Leadership Institute, they got right to work using some of the resources they’d been introduced to. Jamee wrote to us to share her experience and we thought she so perfectly articulated the combination of excitement for improvement and […]

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Tale from the Field: Birding on the Trail

December 2, 2017: Tales from the Field

By Ian Gledhill At Shady Creek Outdoor School, it is not uncommon to have a kid screaming with delight when they identify a bird. Birding is fun because birds are pretty, it’s science, a competition, and just like Pokemon, you gotta catch ‘em all. We teach that birds are nature’s storytellers, and we give kids […]

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Repost: One Teacher’s Journey Towards Implementation

September 12, 2017: Tales from the Field

We couldn’t help but share this inspiring story from Kirsten Franklin on the Ten Strands website. Kirsten has worked with several projects at the Lawrence Hall of Science, including BEETLES, BaySci, and our most recent partnership with ChangeScale to create Environmental Literacy Plans with school districts that offer every student cohesive opportunities to learn in […]

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Tales from the Field: Letting the Messy In

April 21, 2017: Tales from the Field

By Claire Maguire (Note from BEETLES: We’re incredibly grateful for the feedback provided to us by SCCOSS Naturalists  and others as we were developing this activity. The story below illustrates some of the potential pitfalls of engaging students in investigations, but also the magic when one can “let the messy in”. It also illustrates the […]

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Tales from the Field: Getting Better at Letting Go

July 5, 2015: Tales from the Field

by Amelia Rosenman The first time I led NSI: Nature Scene Investigators, it was a total flop. We were studying a piece of scat on the trail – which usually is pretty exciting! The students kept looking at me with “Am I doing this right?” expressions on their faces. Some just got bored and literally […]

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