"It's how we used to learn," says Scott McClintock, science teacher and board member of the Experiential Education Exchange of St. Louis. "You experience something, reflect on it - learn from it - and incorporate it into your life skills."
Scott expands this modest summary in an Earthworms conversation that covers outdoor trips, building school gardens, digging up the cow that died on the school farm last year - and how real-life experiences (and topics like climate change or tolerance) are growing human minds and hearts while also teaching necessary math and reading. Not your straight-line test-score old-school blues song.
Leaders and partners of the EEE have collaborated since 2013 to help teachers, students, parents and school administrators get access to Experiential know-how, grounding St. Louis in an international education movement. A free Spring Event on March 29 and the annual conference on April 29 of the Experiential Education Exchange are opportunities to build skills and relationships in a learning mode where connecting to nature and becoming fully human headline the curriculum.
Learn (a lot!) more at www.eeestl.org
Music: Magic 9, performed at KDHX by Infamous Stringdusters
THANKS to Andy Heaslet, Earthworms engineer
Related Earthworms Conversations: The Big Book of Nature Activities (June 28, 2016)
They may nest in a tree stump, or holes in the ground, or pull nest fibers from the stalks of your dried-up native plants. Wherever they can make a home, you will find them fascinating, useful guests. Earthworms guest Heather Holm - a landscape designer, author and native plant expert - LOVES to introduce humans to them!
They are Native Bees - species of insects that pollinate many kinds of plants. They are very different from familiar honeybees (introduced here from Europe) which live in huge colonies of thousands of bees. Our native bees are usually solitary, visible only during their brief adult lives, when their determined purpose is to build an out-of-the-way nest, provision it with "bee bread" made from flower pollen, lay eggs, seal their nest up - and die. Next year, new native bees will hatch from those obscure places and re-start the cycle of reproduction and pollination.
Heather Holm now works, researches, writes and speaks from her Minnesota home in the Twin Cities. She hails from the University of Ontario, Guelph, where another recent Earthworms guest brought us intel about honeybees. She visited St. Louis in early March, as keynote speaker for the Partners for Native Landscaping workshop, where she kindled many fires of interest in gardening to attract and observe native bees - including with Earthworms host Jean Ponzi!
Music: Divertimento K 131, performed by Kevin McLeod
Thanks to Andy Heaslet, Earthworms engineer.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Bees and People (January 2017)
In Earthworms' experience, when people want to do something Green they think recycling - or solar panels! But what makes solar tick? What are your options? How is solar evolving, in efficiency, affordability, and influence in the "energy space?"
Paul McKnight, owner of St. Louis-based EFS Energy, has made solar his business since 2011. He's weathered solar's ups/downs - and continues to be excited by innovations in power storage, renewable energy financing - and more.
Music: Giant Steps, Dave Stone
THANKS to Andy Heaslet, intrepid engineer
Related Earthworms' Conversations: PACE Financing (January 2017)
How can you not love a tiny, gorgeous creature that flies from Mexico to Canada to keep its species on the Earth? Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are one of our most iconic nature-kin. They need our help - and we can give it to them, beautifully.
Dr. Orly R. "Chip" Taylor has championed Monarchs since the early 1990s. His studies through University of Kansas-Lawrence have documented a drastic decline (over 90%) of Monarch populations along their North American migratory flyway, and his advocacy - as founder of Monarch Watch, Monarch Waystation and Milkweed Market - continues to mobilize citizen science and gardening support to restore habitat needed to preserve this species.
Chip Taylor will keynote the second annual Grow Native! workshop in Edwardsville, IL on Friday, March 10. This is an opportunity to hear one of nature's Green Giants, learn how YOU can contribute to the health of Monarch and other native critter populations through Native Plant landscaping - and you can GET PLANTS!
Don't let this spring pass without digging into the Native Plant movement. Opportunities abound! You - and Monarchs - will benefit, beautifully.
Music: Artifact, Kevin MacLeod
THANKS to Andy Heasley, Earthworms engineer - and to Andy Coco.
Related Earthworms Conversations:
Native Plants: Growing a Joint Venture with Nature (February 2017)
Longest in the US, muddy-waters famous for music-inspiring - and one of the most-altered rivers on Earth. We humans have channelized, narrowed and straightened the Missouri almost (not quite) beyond recognition.
With enough River Issues to float a boat, we STILL have opportunities to protect and in some spots even restore health to the Mighty MO. Greg Poleski, VP of Greenway Network, works on river issues by leading paddling outings on "water trails," leading river clean-ups, and organizing public education events. Brad Walker, River Director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, works with legal, legislative, public education and other means to protect the Missouri from further degradation.
LEARN MORE at River Soundings - a free panel discussion of Missouri River issues. Wednesday February 22, 5:30-8 p.m. Visitor Center in Forest Park. Panelists Tony Messenger, Brad Walker and Dr. Robert Criss, moderated by Jean Ponzi from KDHX.
Music: Big Piney Blues, performed live at KDHX by Brian Curran, December 2003
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Mississippi River Town Mayors: Leadership in a Global Way (June, 2016)
Wildflowers are moving into the city - and plants with "weed" in their names are welcome even in the 'burbs. Sure and steady as Oak trees, a Native Plant revolution is changing the ways we experience our yards, our parks, our school grounds and even our corporate campuses.
Neil Diboll, President of Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin, has grown this wild idea for 35 years. He was digging native plants when his business "couldn't give 'em away." Now he - and many humans like him - can't get enough of the kinds of plants that let our species garden in a Joint Venture with Nature.
Mitch Leachman cultivates this mania here in the KDHX listening area. As head of St. Louis Audubon, he leads volunteers from groups with names like Wild Ones and Master Naturalists in efforts to "Bring Conservation Home" - the wildly successful Audubon program that comes to your yard with guidance to garden ecologically.
Let this Earthworms conversation welcome you to the realm of Native Plants. Want to learn more? You're in luck! March brings workshops, talks and plant sales bursting like Milkweed pods with Native Plant knowledge, opportunity, and FUN! Neil Diboll will headline the 2017 Partners for Native Landscaping Workshop on March 3 & 4 - hosted this year at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, where native plant horticulture training is taking off like Prairie Blazing Stars.
Additional visiting Native Plant maven: pollinator plant author Heather Holm.
Need a lift for your spirits? Start gardening for butterflies, birds and bees. Pick some flowers with "weed" in their names. Meet folks who've got the Native bug - and let yourself catch it too!
Music: Agnes Polka, performed at KDHX by the Chia Band, 1999.
THANKS to Andy Coco, Earthworms engineer, and to all the Partners for Native Landscaping organizations.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Prairie Power: Native Plants, Soil Health, Biodiverse BEAUTY (March 30, 2016)
Wes Jackson and The Land Institute: Growing Our Food Crops as Prairies? (September 15, 2015)
Honeybees are giving humans a sustainable buzz! Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association will host their 10th annual workshop for beginning and advanced beekeepers on Saturday February 11th. Local beekeepers - at hobby and commercial scales - gather at this event to learn basic and advanced apiculture from guest faculty and each other.
Local beekeepers and EMBA members, Steve Rudolph and John Pashia, are joined by Paul Kelly, who is Research and Apiary Manager in the School of Environmental Sciences at University of Guelph, Ontario. Paul is coming to St. Louis as guest faculty for the advanced course in the EMBA workshop.
We buzz about: Virroa destructor, the mite pestilence wreaking havoc in bee colonies across North America; honeybee health measures that are evolving to work with bee biology and habits, vs. techno-fixes; some beekeeping history; what folks like about interacting with these industrious insects - and of course, those enjoyable products of the hive.
Beekeeping is a popular, fast-growing hobby among sustainably-minded humans. And bees are essential partners in producing over half of the foods our society eats. If you've thought about beekeeping, now's the time to get to learn more!
Music: Divertimento K131, performed live at KDHX by Kevin MacLeod, February 2009.
Photos: EMBA members learning together (Ray Marklin); Paul Kelly (Guelph Mercury)
THANKS to Earthworms engineer Josh Nothum, joined this week by Andy Heaslet.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Vanishing Bees: Science, Politics and Honeybee Health (January 16, 2017; Honeybee Democracy - Dr. Tom Seely is WILD About Bees (February 23, 2016)
Honeybees, among all types of pollinators, pollinate over 1/3 of all U.S. foodstuffs. And they are in trouble. Colony Collapse Disorder is just one of a hive of serious issues compromising the health of honeybees kept by commercial-scale and hobby beekeepers, here and abroad.
Many stakeholders share concerns - and conflicting views - about honeybee health: agricultural growers, government agencies, pesticide and herbicide manufacturing corporations, scientists, academics and - of course - beekeepers at every honeybee husbandry scale. Why can't these interests concur about causes - and work toward solutions - to critical bee-health issues?
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin explored what is "credible" and "trusted" amid the human buzz of bee-related viewpoints, while also digging into bee health issue details. Biologist Dr. Sainath Suryanarayanan talks with Earthworms host jean Ponzi about this work. He co-authored the new book "Vanishing Bees: Science, Politics, and Honeybee Health" (Rutgers University Press, 2016) with sociologist Dr. Daniel Lee Kleinman. Suryanarayan is Associate Scientist for the Study of Trans-Disciplinary Biomedical Research, Department of Population Health Sciences, UW-Madison.
MUSIC: Abdiel, performed live at KDHX by Dave Black, January 2011
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer, and to Peter Bermudes of Gail Leondar Public Relations.
MORE ABOUT BEES from Eastern Missouri Beekeepers coming in the January 24 Earthworms podcast.
We all know that using less energy pays (don't we?) by cutting utility bills, reducing demand for fossil fuels and belching less carbon into Earth's climate. But the issue of how to pay for energy efficiency upgrades to your home or commercial property can be a hurdle too high to leap.
Enter PACE, Property Assessed Clean Energy, a financing process that ties the value of improvements - and lending to support them - to the value of your property, not to your personal credit capacity. Across Missouri, including the KDHX service area, the HERO program is connecting municipalities (they levy property taxes) to lenders to energy-smart contractors to property owners to build PACE into our energy usage.
John Maslowski, VP of Marketing and Development for HERO in Missouri, tells Earthworms host Jean Ponzi the what-why-how of PACE. The program's website includes a spiffy animation that explains it too. John and Jean go into what kinds of efficiency measures HERO can finance, connecting with contractors, and what's in this benefit package for local communities and property owners.
In the KDHX listening area, HERO is available in 7 St. Charles County and 14 St. Louis County communities, the City of Arnold in Jefferson County, and all of Franklin and Greene Counties; also in the Kansas City and Columbia areas. Check with your mayor or City Manager if your municipality is not on the HERO list; other PACE programs are at work here too, or PACE can come to your community.
PACE is a great deal. We hope this podcast energizes you!
Music: Lime House Blues, performed live at KDHX by the great Del McCoury, August 2013.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer.
Related Earthworms Conversations: Energy Efficiency: Policy, Financing and Relationships that Power It All with Josh Campbell, Missouri Energy Initiative - September 2016.
Think about how we get around town, if stuff we want and need to get to is close enough to where we live, work, learn and play that we don't have to use a car to get there (or at least not all the time). If our neighborhoods feel lively, safe, healthy and productive.
This is all part of the national movement called Smart Growth, practiced by community builders like Earthworms guests Dana Gray and Eric Friedman, who are both local champions of equity, sustainability, creativity and prosperity - for everyone in the St. Louis community where they live and work.
Smart Growth is a trend prompting economic, social and environmental benefits in many U.S. cities. In St. Louis, the concept has grown some good roots and sprouted in places like South Grand Boulevard, Washington Avenue downtown, the Delmar Loop and Old North St. Louis. Efforts of community-builders in many places are moving out town in smarter directions, at a pace we will define in positive terms as gathering steam.
Evidence of this movement here is that the Local Government Commission is bringing their annual New Partners for Smart Growth national conference to The Lou from February 1-4. A special FREE day of Smart Growth skill-building and networking events has just been announced, DIY Great Cities on Wednesday February 1 - a scoop on this Earthworms podcast!
YOU could become a Smart Growth advocate in your neighborhood, with benefits cycling directly, sustainably back to your family, friends, and neighbors. Check it out!
Dana Gray is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Tower Grove Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation. Eric Friedman is real estate and development professional, principal of The Friedman Group commercial real estate company, and founder of Housing and Community Solutions. Both have been instrumental in bringing National Partners for Smart Growth 2017 Conference to St. Louis.
Music: Cookie Mouth, performed live at KDHX by The Provels, January 2015.
THANKS to Josh Nothum, Earthworms engineer - and to Jon Valley.
Related Earthworms Conversations:
Trailnet's New Vision for Getting Around Green - November 2016
St. Louis Food Policy Coalition - December 2015