Engaging Students in Environmental Stewardship through Adventure Learning

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Will Steger Foundation
Recipient Type
Non-Profit Business/Entity
Start Date
July 2010
End Date
June 2013
Counties Affected
Project Overview

Climate change poses many challenges for Minnesota's future. To successfully engage people in overcoming these challenges it is important for them to have a developed sense of connection to Minnesota's ecosystems and an understanding of the immediate and long-term impacts climate change will have on them. Through this appropriation, the Will Steger Foundation will partner with a number of academic and civic organizations to develop an age appropriate program for students in grades 3-12 that ties Arctic explorer Will Steger's adventures with engaging content on Minnesota's natural environment, the short and long term impacts of climate change, and related student-led action projects.

The Will Steger Foundation developed Engaging Students in Environmental Stewardship through Adventure Learning (MCC) with the understanding that environmental stewardship begins with a local connection and sense of appreciation, or environmental sensitivity, towards the natural environment. This project's primary audience, educators, have the unique opportunity to lead their students through the environmental education continuum of knowledge, awareness, and skills that lead to an informed and active environmental citizenry.

Climate change is one of the most critical environmental issues of our time and educators have an important role to play in educating their students and providing them the skills to mitigate and adapt to climate change. In order to make the issue relevant and connected to the lives of those reached through our project, we focused specifically on the impacts of climate change on Minnesota's biomes. Additionally, we wove in stories from Will Steger's life and examples of his own early observations of the natural world and his curiosity of weather and climate. We also tapped into the expertise of many Minnesota scientists and educators in the development of our Grades 3-12 curriculum, online classroom and two public forums and three Summer Institutes for climate change education.

Over the three years of the project we were able to reach and increase the climate literacy of over 5000 educators, members of the public and students via our Summer Institutes for Climate Change Education, year round workshops, conference presentations, school visits, field trips, public forums and our online classroom (classroom.willstegerfoundation.org). The project also resulted in the development of a number of valuable, mutually beneficial, and long-term partnerships. The partnership with the Mississippi River Fund, National Park Foundation and Mississippi National River and Recreation Area resulted in the ability to support 20 student service projects and field trips for over 500 students to enhance their learning on Minnesota's changing climate. MCC was recognized in 2012 by Environmental Initiative in the area of environmental education in part due to these important partnerships. A final evaluation report showed overall success for the project in providing a curriculum and training that increased climate literacy, environmental stewardship and educator confidence in teaching about climate change.

Over 500 formal and informal educators from all four biomes received a copy of the Minnesota's Changing Climate Curriculum via three Summer Institutes and customized workshops for school districts and at professional education conferences. The curriculum was used to teach over 10,000 Grades 3-12 students about Minnesota's unique biomes, what makes them unique, how they are threatened by climate change and what they can do to mitigate the impacts. Additionally, the curriculum has been shared nationally and regionally via the Climate Literacy Network, the Great Lakes Education Collaborative, Green Teacher, Humphrey Institutes Innovations in Education Forum and the North American Association for Environmental Education as a model of place based climate change education.

Additionally, over 1,000 students submitted their observations of Minnesota's biomes during the school year to our online classroom, with at least 2,000 more viewing and/or commenting on their observations.

Minnesota's Changing Climate curriculum has been used as a framework to develop curriculum specifically focused on the Mississippi River and climate change impacts on Wisconsin. Additionally the Minnesota Phenology Network and Minnesota Master Naturalists have used portions of it and endorse its effectiveness for communicating the connection between phenology and climate change. The curriculum has been aligned with the St. Paul Public Schools "power standards" and Minneapolis Public schools elementary STEM standards and used as an example of how to meet those standards. Finally, teachers from Minnesota American Indian reservations that are participating in The CYCLES project, a project of the STEM Center at the University of Minnesota, received training and are using the curriculum in their schools because the place based focus of the curriculum resonates culturally.

The online classroom, created in partnership with Hamline's Center for Global Environmental Education, has been used by educators around the state to learn more about Minnesota's unique biomes, their cultural history and climate change impacts. Finally, the Minnesota Phenology Network has utilized it has the perfect curriculum for connecting individuals with a reason why phenology is important.

Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2010, Chp. 362, Sec. 2, Subd. 08b
Appropriation Language

$250,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with the Will Steger Foundation to provide curriculum, teacher training, online learning, and grants to schools on investigating the connection between Minnesota's changing climate and the impacts on ecosystems and natural resources. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2013, by which time the project must be completed and final products delivered.

2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Manager
First Name
Last Name
Organization Name
Will Steger Foundation
Street Address
2801 21st Avenue S, Ste 127
Zip Code
(612) 278-7147
Administered By
Administered by

500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155

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