THE PEOPLE, PRAIRIES AND PLAINS POST

October 1995 No. 1
Howdy from the Director Hello from the Heartland. I hope that all is going well for you. I especially hope that all of you are employing the lessons you devised! Chris and I have heard from two of you already. Reports from Duncan and Mary Jo are included in this edition of the newsletter. Now, we hope to hear from the rest of you soon. Tell us what you re doing with the institute material, and how you re presenting it to your colleagues. Don t be shy; write us. I attended the Western History Association s annual conference this October, and gave a short presentation about the institute. I gave this short address to the folks attending the annual breakfast for the American Society for Environmental History. Three of the scholars from this summer (Donald Worster, Marty Melosi, and Susan Flader) were in attendance at the breakfast, and I recognized their contributions to the success of the institute. Also at the conference was Doug Hurt. All of the scholars noted how enjoyable the institute was for them, and they hoped that all of you, the participants, were able to gain something worthwhile from them. Dan Flores and I are working on a piece that will eventually appear in the Magazine of History. The piece will deal with teaching environmental history to K-12 students. Of course, I intend to highlight some of the curriculum developed during the institute. I will not be able to highlight everyones lessons, which is unfortunate. The lessons that will be selected will be from those covering history or social studies as the magazine focuses exclusively on the teaching of history. More on this as the piece is developed. Hopefully by the publication of the next newsletter there will be a homepage on the World Web System for the institute. We will be attempting to post information on this site about the institute, which could include the curriculum you wrote, the newsletter, posting of state and national conferences, and just general bits and pieces from you. This could prove a beneficial tool for you and others interested in this area of teaching. You ll find in this newsletter a copy of the outside reviewer s report to NEH. He gave us all a glowing report, and our program officer in Washington D.C. was very pleased. Unfortunately for us, and NEH, Michael Pratt, our program officer at NEH, is among ninety others there who will lose his job in December. In fact, nearly everyone in the Division of Education will lose his/her job, and the division will be staffed with other people who have greater job seniority. NEH is being re-designed, but funding for summer-teacher institutes will remain part of its mandate. We can expect, however, that the funding will be reduced considerably from current levels. Again, write to us and let us know what s happening with you. Catch you in the next go around. Later, JES. Topic: An Evaluation of People, Prairies, and Plains: The Historical Role of People in the Environment, Environmental History Institute for K-12 Teachers By: Jim Hoy, Professor of English, Emporia State University Date: 14 August 1995 As outside evaluator for the NEH summer institute People, Prairies, and Plains: The Historical Role of People in the Environment, directed by Professor James Sherow of the Kansas State University history faculty, I would like to make the following comments that touch on the overall design, the day-to-day format, the content, the personnel, and the execution of the institute. I will also comment on the personality of the group of participants and on the effectiveness of the institute in meeting its stated objectives. I made three site visits (on July 12, July 18, and July 31) to the institute for purposes of observation and inquiry. As evidence of the timeliness of the institute s subject matter and of the quality of the guest scholars, on each occasion I found a number of visitors in attendance: KSU students and faculty, townspeople, and personnel from the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. I might further note that I was invariably treated courteously and professionally by institute staff, particularly Professor Sherow and Assistant Director Christopher Cokinos, both of whom seem to have made it a point to try to create an atmosphere of just the right mix of seriousness and casualness that would lend itself to learning and intellectual curiosity. Another element that contributed to this positive atmosphere was the balanced mix of elementary and secondary teachers divided among various disciplines--literature, history and social sciences, science, and art. At the time of my earliest visit participants were still flushed with the enthusiasm that comes with undertaking a new enterprise, and their reactions were positive. During my second visit the reality of hard work had begun to temper the mental elation that resulted from the lectures by visiting scholars and the lively discussions that followed each presentation. At this time participants were beginning to adjust to the regimen of writing and study that complemented the lectures and discussions, and some of them expressed a concern about what they perceived to be a lack of clear direction in the writing assignments. My third visit occurred during the last week of the institute, the day on which a major writing assignment was to be turned in. As a result many participants were showing the mental wear and tear that naturally results from four weeks of intensive instruction and interactive learning. Still, the opinions expressed by the great majority with whom I spoke were quite positive. Invariably the greatest enthusiasm was voiced for the number and quality of the guest speakers, each of whom is a noted expert in the field of environmental history. The planners are to be commended for being able to assemble such an august, and stimulating, array of scholars. Many of the comments, couched in terms such as my brain is full and we needed more time to assimilate, reflected the pleasure of having been exposed to wonderful speakers who imparted a wide background of specific and general knowledge. One participant noted that she had begun to look at familiar things with a new eye, a comment that clearly affirmed the effectiveness of the institute. Participants also felt that sharing the results of their learning, as well as sharing teaching experiences, was a major plus of the institute. Many of them found that the twice-a-week sessions in elementary or secondary curriculum development subgroups were particularly beneficial. Participants continued to be challenged by the writing assignments. Some expressed concern that the development of an integrated curriculum with environmental history was taking a back seat to paper writing. But, as another participant noted, perhaps the process was like having a baby: Painful at the time, but (she hoped) ultimately rewarding as the new birth would mature back in its home environment. My own interpretation of the expressions of frustration about the writing assignments (based on a quarter century of teaching composition) is that writing is a highly personal, highly stressful activity and it is natural for participants to have had this reaction. Undoubtedly, the writing component of the institute was one of the most difficult for many of the participants. On the other hand, this component was also essential to the success of the enterprise. My observation of the participants suggested that the group was both congenial and collegial, an observation supported by the presenting of a birthday cake to a participant by her fellows at lunch on my first visit, and by the mass wearing of name tags all bearing the name Shirley on my last visit. (This latter stunt was a good-humored ribbing of staff members who had not yet learned all the names of participants; the ease of communication and collegiality among staff and participants was reflected by the fact that staff members had requested Shirley nametags of their own to wear!) Participants saw themselves as a dead serious, high energy, hard working, motivated group. One complaint that surfaced is indicative of a more general problem that exists among educators, one that transcends this particular institute--the perceived gulf between public school faculty and university faculty. The former feel that the latter do not really understand the difficulties of life in the public school trenches, that the latter exist in an ivory tower. One hopes, however, that such vehicles as this institute will help to bridge this gap and lead to greater cooperation among all segments of the educational system. A comment on the design of the institute: several participants noted that they would have preferred to have had the visit to the Konza Prairie Natural Research Area during the first rather than the last week. As Aldo Leopold, among others, has noted, it is important to get on the ground, to get out into the environment and experience it first hand. While I can certainly see using a trip to the Konza as a fitting capstone for an institute on prairie/plains environmental history, it does seem to me that beginning with this experience might have given participants a better feel for what was to come. In fact, it might well have been interesting to both begin and end with such a field trip; sitting in a circle on a hillside covered with bluestem grass would be most conducive to an insightful wrap-up discussion of environmental history. Finally, a few words about the effectiveness of the institute in meeting its stated goals, which are as follows: 1) to convey the legacy of the reciprocal influences of a changing nature and a changing society; 2) to engage participants in the best scholarship of environmental history; and 3) to provide participants with concrete suggestions for incorporating environmental history into their own classrooms. Both my own observation, as well as commentary from participants, convinces me that goals 1 and 2 were well met by the lectures of the visiting scholars, by the discussions that followed those lectures, by the texts provided, and by individual study. Moreover, concerning goal 3, each participant is developing his or her own set of lesson plans and units that will make environmental history an integral part of his or her teaching, and it is my understanding that each participant will have a complete set of all these documents. Thus I found all three stated goals to have been met. To sum up, I found this institute to be highly successful, an excellent vehicle to spread, through ripple effect, an essential awareness of environmental history. LIST OF BIRDS OBSERVED ON THE FIELD TRIP TO CHEYENNE BOTTOMS JULY 26, 1995 Double-crested Cormorant Great Blue Heron Green-backed Heron Little Blue Heron Cattle Egret Great Egret Snowy Egret Black-crowned Night Heron Yellow-crowned Night Heron American Bittern American White Pelican White-faced Ibis Canada Goose Mallard Northern Pintail Blue-winged Teal Turkey Vulture Red-tailed Hawk Swainson s Hawk Northern Harrier Prairie Falcon Common Moorhen American Coot Killdeer Lesser Yellowlegs White-rumped Sandpiper American Avocet Ring-billed Gull Franklin s Gull Black Tern Rock Dove Mourning Dove Common Nighthawk Chimney Swift Belted Kingfisher Northern Flicker Red-headed Woodpecker Eastern Kingbird Western Kingbird Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tree Swallow Bank Swallow Northern Rough-winged Swallow Barn Swallow Cliff Swallow House Wren Starling Common Yellowthroat Western Meadowlark Yellow-headed Blackbird Red-winged Blackbird Green-tailed Grackle Common Grackle Brown-headed Cowbird Northern Cardinal House Sparrow Note from Mary Jo Kleinsorge Later this semester I plan to develop a lesson plan on homesteaders, using lectures and the book Sod and Stubble. Next semester I will be using lectures and information I gathered last summer to develop a unit on the dust bowl. I also intend to tie in much of the information on early cities that I learned from Marty Melosi. Our faculty consists only of 5 other teachers, and I have shared some of what I learned at our monthly faculty meetings. I have made my texts and notes available to them. The science teacher and I plan to work together when she teaches a unit on water and the environment later this year. I began my 7 & 8 history class this fall by using Dan Flores sense of place lecture as a basis for teaching the history of our town, Martinsburg. Since our school is celebrating its 110th year this fall, I thought it would be interesting to tie in both subjects. I began the first day by having my students work in cooperative groups to complete a questionnaire that included questions posed by Professor Flores. I added several that applied to our own community. Among the questions were: 1. Name a Native American tribe that lived in this area. 2. Name 3 subsistence techniques used by the Native Americans. 3. Where does the water come from that you drink? 4. When was Martinsburg founded? 5. What was its original name? 6. List 5 businesses that were in operation in Martinsburg in the 1800 s. 7. What was the population of Martinsburg 100 years ago? 8. What is the population of Martinsburg today? 9. How many days till the next full moon? 10. Name 3 edible plants that grow wild in our area. 11. Name 3 native trees from our area. 12. Name a naturalized tree in our area. 13. Name 5 common native birds of Missouri. 14. What is a common land form in our area? 15. Name 3 mammals once common in our area but no longer found in MO. 16. Name 3 mammals common to our area today. 17. Name 5 common wildflowers. 18. When is the summer solstice? 19. When is the winter solstice? 20. Where does your garbage go? 21. When was St. Joseph Church built? 22. When was St. Joseph School built? 23. What order of nuns taught in our school for nearly 100 years? 24. What is the largest nature preserve in our area? 25. Were the stars out last night? 26. Has there ever been a major ecological or natural ecological or natural disaster in the Martinsburg area? 27. When did your ancestors first settle in the Martinsburg area? Where did they come from? From this lesson, I found that my students really did not know very much about the history of our area. So in addition to developing lectures based on Professor Flores talk, I also included other activities that I hope helped them develop a sense of place. Some of those lessons were: 28. Viewed the film Blooming Secrets from the Missouri Department of Conservation. This film is a good source for native flowers. I had each student bring in dried, pressed flowers for labeling and display. 29. I made Queen Ann s Lace jelly and had the class sample it knowing only that it was made from an edible wild plant. I then had them guess what they were eating. This was a popular lesson! 30. Viewed and discussed the films Our Wild Inheritance and Legacy of Life from the Missouri Department of Conservation. 31. Lectured on the general history of Missouri (including the geology) and the specific history of our town. 32. Instructed each student to write a family history describing when, why, and how their family came to settle in the area. Many found that their ancestors settled here in the 1800 s. 33. Constructed time lines for our church and school dating back to 1885. 34. I made posters listing local businesses present in our town in the 1850 s, 1880 s, and 1920 s. Then I had them work in cooperative groups to develop posters of businesses present in 1995. We then compared the lists. It was interesting to learn that the blacksmith shop established in the 1880 s is the implement dealer today--still run by the same family. 35. Using the cooperative teaching technique jigsaws I assigned each student the name of a famous Missourian. They were to research this person and teach it to their group. This was an enjoyable unit to teach and I think the students became much more aware of themselves, their town, and their surroundings. One student told me that she had never noticed the flowers along the roadside before, but now she could identify many of them. This unit lasted about two and a half weeks. QUEEN ANNE LACE JELLY 15 large flower heads 3 1/2 cups of boiling water Place flower heads in boiling water, remove from heat, and allow to steep for fifteen minutes. This yields 3 cups of infusion. 3 cups of infusion 3 3/4 cups of sugar 1 box of powdered pectin 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1. Add pectin to infusion and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. 2. Add sugar, all at once, and lemon juice, stirring over high heat. Bring to a full rolling boil for one minute, stirring constantly. 3. Remove from heat, skim off foam, and pour jelly into sterile jars. Make sure you have an expert with you don t mistake Queen Anne s Lace for, say, hemlock or snakeroot, both of which are poisonous! Note from Duncan Boutwell While Satanta is not a land where messengers of bad news are killed, I have found issues dealing with conservation of the environment are best handled circumspectly. In the 20 years I have lived here, I have found it to be considered bad form to discuss two subjects: the ominous future of the Ogallala aquifer and of all of us dependent on its bounty, and the largesse of U.S. Government farm subsidy programs. It is not received with hostility as that which Archie Bunker once compared to desecrating on the flag, but rather the subject is not received at all. Another paradigm exists here: one in which everyone deserves taxpayer money with the possible exception of public school teachers. As for a coming water shortage, it doesn t exist. The agriculturists I deal with don t necessarily believe that water follows the plow, but more than a few have some evidence that money does. As for specifics, I have organized all the Institute materials on a bookshelf in the front of my classroom. The lesson plans are readily available for study and adaptation as I am able. And before long, I hope to be. Our school is in the rocess of writing curriculum for all areas including my own. What is turning up as a very real need for students to meet the objectives and those of the state is considerable guided practice in reading and writing. My guess is that many Institute materials will find their way into cued writing, reading selections with concomitant composition and writing exercises, and related research projects consistent with library resources. During the Institute I was able to find a number of lesson plans appropriate to my purposes, and hope to find more. Currently I am reviewing some of the science projects to see if there is material there. I believe that my use of materials will start small and grow, as I can demonstrate how the materials fit the curriculum and the mission statements. Small is also a necessity because of the financial crunch our school is currently in; all our budgets are frozen, we are looking at declining enrollments, and there may be staff reductions. It could be two years before our curriculum is completed and we can order materials. Until then I must make do with what I brought back. As far as sharing my materials or ideas, that must be small scale too. I have two colleagues in the English department to share with. They seem interested so far, but I need to show them that what I have can work to their advantage and won t dislodge the material they already have in place. I really have nothing at present to report on sharing with fellow teachers at any conference. Beyond my own district, in which there is one each elementary and secondary building, I have a well- developed spirit of collaboration, but no insight, yet. I look forward to later newsletters; I hope to have better news to report then. Certainly I will take advantage of any opportunities. Educational Resources The Big Book of Questions & Answers: Save the Earth (Linda Schwartz, $18) A children s eco- encyclopedia, featuring colorful, lively illustrations and a unique question and answer format. Even younger kids will be able to understand difficult topics like global warming, acid rain, and deforestation. They ll also learn about the environmental impacts of their daily lives, and about simple, practical changes they can make to help save the planet. Available from: Publications International, 7373 North Cicero Ave., Lincolnwood IL 60646; (708) 676-3470. My Earth Book (64 pgs., $11) A collection of pictures, projects, puzzles, facts, and fun to help children ages 6-9 learn about and care for the Earth. Covers recycling, packaging, pollution, habitats, and endangered species. Available from: Learning Works, PO Box 6187, Santa Barbara CA 93160. Take Action: An Environmental Book for Kids World Wildlife Funds guide for kids, filled with action ideas, including background information on different wildlife issues, and examples on what kids have done to help wildlife. Biodiversity Curriculum Includes worksheets, lesson plans, and activities, to help students learn about biodiversity and the role parks play in providing a place for it. ($20) Available from: National Parks and Conservation association, (800) NAT-PARK. Earth Time A 10-hour environmental education curriculum for grades 7-12. This program guides students through a resource consumption audit of their school campus. Students explore energy and water conservation, pest management, chemical product use, waste management, and recycling. They will also examine their school s food systems and landscape management plan. Available from: Earth Time Project, Box 111, Ketchum ID 83340; (208) 726-4030. Our Only Earth: Endangered Species Provides an integrated science, language arts, and social science program ranging from a month of study to a year-long process. ($20) Available from: Zephyr Press, (602) 322-5090. Wildlife Conservation Teacher Pacs Eleven topics in the series, including Urban areas, Wildlife Conflicts, and Endangered Species. Available from: National Institute for Urban Wildlife, (304) 274- 0205. Earthword: An Environmental Game Features over 800 intriguing questions in challenging multiple choice format. Covers air, water, forests, wildlife, global warming, oceans, recycling, and other issues. Available from Earthword Inc., 104 Church St., Keyport NJ 07735; (908) 264-3012. ($23.50) Conservation and Environmentalism: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Robert Paehlke, 1995. Focusing on problems and solutions, this authoritative reference work covers all aspects of the environment, from the Everglades to the Himalayas, from legislation in Australia to pollution problems in Eastern Europe, from tropical rain forests to the Porcupine Caribou herd of the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic. Some of the best-known environmental professionals from 14 countries around the world have written original articles for this multidisciplinary Encyclopedia, including Norman Myers, Eugene C. Hargrove, Reed E. Noss, Max Oelschlaeger, J. Baird Callicott, George Sessions, M.S. Swaminathan, Gilbert F. White, Michael E. Kraft, Michael P. Cohen, Paul Ekins, and many others. Available from: Garland Publishing Inc., New York and London. Conservation Directory Annually updated sourcebook of national and international environmental organizations, government agencies, and educational programs which focus on managing natural resources. Includes a special section on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Available from National Wildlife Federation, 1400 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036; (800) 432-6564. E for Environment: An Annotated Bibliography of Children s Books with Environmental Themes, by Patty Sinclair, 1992. Available from: R.R. Bowker, 121 Chanlon Rd., New Providence NJ 07974. The Environmental Address Book (by Michael Levine, $17) Lists over 2,000 environmental leaders, organizations, businesses, government agencies, concerned celebrities, and polluters. A valuable book full of the resources needed to make a difference, whether you re writing to protest, suggest, or praise. Available from : Putnam Publishing Group, 200 Madison Ave., New York NY 10016; (212) 951-8510. Environmental Education Resource Guide A 19- page booklet listing a variety of teaching media-- from curricula and newsletters to films and magazines. Available from: Friends of the Earth, 1025 Vermont St. NW, Washington DC 20005; (202) 544-2600. Environmental Education Teacher Resource Handbook Covers infusion, funding, the latest trends, state guidelines, curriculum design, project ideas, product reviews, curriculum guides, and more. Available from: Kraus International Publications, (800) 223-8323. Environmental Sourcebook Provides information on over 8,500 organizations, associations, library collections, agencies, publications, and clearinghouses, associated with the environment. Available from Gale Research, 835 Penobscot Bldg., Detroit MI 48226; (800) 877-GALE. Getting Started: Bringing Environmental Education into Your Classroom Includes the stories of 35 K-12 teachers, information on organizations, curricula, funding, training opportunities, and environmental education contacts in each state. $13. Available from: National Consortium for Environmental Education and Training, (313) 998-6726. Island Press Environmental Sourcebook A free catalog featuring dozens of environmental books on a variety of subjects, including ecosystems management, biodiversity and wildlife, planning and land use, economics and policy, environmental thought, and much more. Many books are suitable for high-school students. Available from Island Press, PO Box 7 , Covelo CA 95428; (800) 828- 1302. E: The Environmental Magazine An excellent mainstream environmental magazine with interesting, timely, and well-written articles on a variety of environmental issues. Includes classifieds on educational opportunities green products, and fund raising resources. Published bimonthly; single copy $4, 6 issues ($20). Available at some bookstores, or from E: The Environmental Magazine, PO Box 699, Mt. Morris IL 61054; (800) 967-6572. Ranger Rick Teaches youth ages 6-12 about wildlife, natural history, and the environment. Subscriptions: $15. Available from: National Wildlife Federation, 1400 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20036-2266; (800) 432-6564. World A magazine for youth ages 8-13. Articles cover people, places, animals, and ecosystems around the world. Subscriptions: $15/year. A