In an effort to further GEM's mission, our team has worked over the past few years to create educational content that is engaging, creative, and environmentally friendly! With that in mind, in honor of Great Outdoors Month, we are highlighting a few ways we make our lesson plans environmentally friendly and sustainable.
In October of 2019, GEM held a STEM Day for third and fourth graders at Primavera Elementary School. Madison Link, the leader of this STEM Day, wanted to showcase how students could utilize recycled materials for hands-on learning. One of these engaging activities used old two-liter bottles for a multi-step experiment. First, GEM volunteers cut the two-liter bottles in half and filled the bottom half with soil and rocks. Students then used their scientific skills to excavate and identify the rocks.
After the students identified their findings, they used the soil-filled bottle as a potholder and planted seeds. GEM shared more about proper gardening techniques, how to take care of the seeds, and the potential for their seeds to grow into beautiful flowers! Once the students had their instructions for care, they used the tops of the two-liter bottles to water their seeds for the first time!
Following this, our team led an impactful discussion exploring types of materials that are recyclable for STEM activities. Ideas ranged from a bottle rocket using household supplies to repurposing old boxes for forts. This discussion allowed the students' creativity to come to life while still encouraging sustainability and environmental engagement.
2. Using Compostable Materials
Being a community organization, our team values community events and engagement. With this in mind, we participated in the 2019 CASA for Kid's Annual Halloween 5k! Our team set up a booth where young learners could create their very own flying bats! Each participant picked two compostable straws, one slightly bigger than the other, and one pre-printed bat outline. After coloring the bats, students taped the bat onto the marginally larger straw, making sure to cover the hole at the top. Students put the smaller straw into the bigger straw and blew into it, making the bat fly off!
This craft was both engaging and environmentally friendly, as the straws were compostable and the paper bat could be recycled. Our team enjoyed sharing our passion for the environment, working with community members, and most of all, watching students 'fly' their bats!
3. Nature Activities
Prescott is unique for many reasons, but our favorite aspect is the fantastic rocks and geological sites! These natural wonders draw geologists, rock enthusiasts, and curious folks from all over the country. Wanting to share these wonders with young learners, GEM offered a hands-on geological learning activity at the Greater Prescott Outdoors Fund Earth Week celebration. At GEM's booth, students searched for and identified rocks, geodes, and gems with the help of our volunteers. After identifying their findings, students reburied the rocks for other children to find later! This activity was exceptional because it allowed young learners to engage with the natural world around them without disturbing any local ecology. Our team had such a great time sharing this learning experience with our community, and we can't wait for next year's Earth Week celebrations!
We hope our experiences and ideas spark inspiration, curiosity, and excitement for your next STEM activity! We love to hear from our readers; share any environmentally friendly activities you enjoy in the comments! Hiking on designated trails, utilizing reusable bags, and supporting local ecological efforts are all great ways to be a friend to the environment!
GEM Environmental is excited to welcome one of our new members to the team! Madison (Madi) Albright is our new Charity Rocks Gallery Sales Associate!
Madison was born and raised in Utah and graduated from Grantsville High School last year. She recently moved to Prescott, Arizona to be closer to her boyfriend Dallas, and his family. Being from Utah, Madi loves the cold weather and is interested to see how she handles the change in temps! She enjoys being outdoors for hikes, kayaking, swimming, and taking her loving dog Steinn on walks. She also loves learning new things and being hands on, she feels that working with GEM will allow her to do both! Welcome to the team, Madi!
How did you hear about this service opportunity?
I learned about the position through family and was excited at the opportunity of working to build a new position in a great company.
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I will be opening and running the Charity Rocks Gallery and online website. Starting with getting it up and running, with help from others here at GEM. When the store and website is open, I will be responsible for all sales, in-store and online, I will run weekly inventory checks, website maintenance, and I will also maintain the cleanliness and organization of the shop.
What do you plan to accomplish during your time with GEM?
Being here with GEM, I plan to help the store and website grow. By always keeping the website up to date and the store ready for customers each day. I plan to learn more about the entire organization and teach others so they can also know.
What are your career goals?
Honestly, I am not too sure, I am still young and have my whole life ahead. But for now, I want to help Charity Rocks grow! So, I guess this is my career goal!
MAKE SURE TO KEEP AN EYE ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND WEBSITE TO SEE WHEN OUR GALLERY WILL OPEN! CHARITY ROCKS!
GEM Environmental is excited to welcome one of our new members to the team. Kassie Henrikson is our newest AmeriCorps VISTA member through Arizona Serve and Volunteer Program Coordinator.
Kassie grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has always been passionate about nature and environmental protection. She is especially interested in science communication, biodiversity, ecological restoration, and phenology. Her hobbies include hiking, cycling, birding, and anything outdoors. Kassie values early interventions of STEM education because while she has always been passionate about nature, she did not understand the variety of career opportunities in this field until recently. She believes it is imperative to introduce young kids and young adults to STEM and Environmental education available because this field needs more awareness and more people to join if we are going to be able to manage the environmental issues our society is facing today. Welcome to the team, Kassie!
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I started my career in Environmental Restoration with a college internship at Wildlife Habitat Council. WHC focuses on working with large industries to restore land on and around their properties, so most of my work was spent restoring oak savannah and dunes habitats at a large steel mill in northwest Indiana on the southern coast of Lake Michigan. After graduating with a degree in International Business and a minor in Environmental Studies, I spent two years working as a paralegal while considering attending law school to pursue a career in environmental litigation. Ultimately, I realized that I wanted to work more hands-on with environmental issues, so I decided to pivot back to restoration work. I joined the Student Conservation Association's All Women's Crew in 2019 as an Assistant Crew Leader and returned for the 2020 season as a Crew Leader. This crew is designed to empower young women ages 18-25 to pursue careers in conservation and the environmental field by creating a safe space where they can learn together and grow professionally and individually. We worked in partnership with the Chicago Park District to help manage their natural areas throughout the Southeast side of Chicago. The crew members were trained in environmental restoration techniques including chainsaw use and chemical backpack spraying as well as in professional development. I enjoyed the training and mentoring aspect of my job the more and was inspired to pursue a career more focused on education and outreach, which is what brought me to GEM.
What do you plan to accomplish during your service term with GEM?
I hope to expand on my skills in environmental education, science communication, and volunteer recruitment and management. I also hope that by helping kids and young adults learn about nature and STEM they will be inspired to help protect our outdoor spaces and promote science.
What are your career goals?
I'm not exactly sure what I want to do after this position, but I know I want to work in science communication and community outreach in some form. I hope to work at an environmental non-profit or a nature center when I can combine my background in communication and environmental work with my passion for environmental protection, such that I can inspire others to want to protect nature as well.
Do you plan to continue your education? If so, what programs or school are you looking into and what is the highest degree you plan to earn?
I would love to continue my education, however, since I am not sure exactly where I want to go from here, I plan to wait and see if further education is necessary for my career. I am potentially interested in obtaining a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, Environmental Education, or a related field. I would be open to pursuing a doctorate degree as well if it makes sense for me to do so based on my career path in the future.
Have you had any other internship or service opportunities before this? If so, how do you believe internships have benefited you so far?
My internship in college working in environmental restoration was an invaluable experience. Even though I didn't go directly into the field, when I decided to change careers paths four years after completing my internship, I decided to start with environmental restoration because I had prior experience in the field. When I applied for SCA's All Women's Crew, I applied to be a crew member but was immediately hired on as an Assistant Crew Leader because of my previous experience in restoration from my internship. This ultimately led to me being hired the following year as a Crew Leader, which opened many doors for me when I was looking for my next steps. Even though I am now pivoting again away from restoration and more towards environmental education, my previous experience has brought me to this point and it all started with my first internship.
To learn more about Kassie click here.
Science fiction is the perfect genre for people who love fantasy and want the world they are reading about to be imagined with future scientific or technological advances. Science fiction spurs creative energy and has people thinking about different possibilities in the world.
Madison Link, GEM’s past Program Coordinator, shares that one of her favorite books, Ender’s Game, is a science fiction book that takes place in a militaristic world where interplanetary war is being raged. She said that she adored the book when she was young because the main character, Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, was a young boy who became the leader of a child prodigies to win the war against an alien race. Madison shared, “Reading about someone so young doing amazing things and feeling connected with Ender’s thought process really made me love the book. I felt like I was actually there: learning to use new technology, trying to figure out how to lead a team… I just felt that Ender was so interesting and fun to read about. That he was young like me just really cemented how much I liked the book." Even after all this time, Ender’s Game is still a book she can reread over and over again.
Science fiction books are a great way to have people feel part of a new world that may be possible if individuals are creative enough to design new technologies. Books are powerful because they can influence others and could be the inspiration for new inventions. Therefore, GEM always tries to ensure there are a few science fiction books in the three Little Free Libraries they have created for the community!
What is YOUR favorite science fiction book? GEM members are always looking for new books to read and to donate to the community! Make sure to leave your responses in the comments below.
Hello friends, and welcome back to another installment of Annette’s Adventures! This month we will be visiting the Luis Lopez Mining District, just south of Socorro, New Mexico. The primary commodity mined in the Luis Lopez District is Manganese, and according to Alfred T Miesch (1956), it was, at one time, one of the most productive districts in the United States. Today, I will tell you about my adventures in and around the pit at Nancy Mine.
We typically spend the first day of any field campaign familiarizing ourselves with the area. Our first task in any mining district is driving the dirt roads to verify what we mapped in Google Earth. We must have tried a dozen or so old mining roads to cross the hills from our camp on the east side to Nancy Mine on the west side. None of the routes were passable! Our fate accepted, we headed out for Nancy Mine with the intention of recording monitoring data on all the mine features in that area. The headframe and pit at Nancy Mine are the largest I have seen in my short career as an AML Monitoring technician. Everything at Nancy Mine feels large. Even the water storage tank on the hillside folded and falling looked humongous!
I try my best to arrange my monitoring days into efficient loop hikes and, if possible, I like to park at the bottom of the hill and work my way to the top so that I can have a nice downhill hike at the end of the day when I am tired. Nancy Mine day was no different. Eric and I parked at the bottom of the hill and worked our way up the hillside. We traversed north across the top to the far entrance of the pit and hiked down into what looked like a large trench. It was almost otherworldly with boulders covering the bottom. Some boulders were loose so that when you stepped on them, they would roll underfoot. Tumbleweeds gathered in low spots and piled up along the walls, and most closed features were under piles of tumbleweed. A few of the closures had bat gates, but most were concrete plugs that you would miss if you were not looking for them. Climbing out of the Nancy pit was no easy task. It was nearing the end of our day, and as mentioned before, the rocks were loose!
While we were crossing the hilltop on our way to the pit, we discussed two random-looking features marked on the map to the north. We agreed to save them for another day because they fit well with a different task in that same area. It took a few days to get back to those two lone features in the north. A winter snowstorm had passed through the region the day before our planned trip to get those features. Our camp was dry in the morning, and I thought nothing of the passing storm. This trip was Rob, Dan, and I all piled into the truck. Rob and Dan were inventorying a few features off the beaten path, and I was going to monitor the two points that looked like they would not be much.
ABOVE IS THE PROGRESSION OF THE STORM.
We noticed that the snow increased the closer we got to our designated work area for the day. The snow was a solid six to eight inches deep where we parked the truck. Off we hiked in the snow up the hill. At the top, we split, the guys went west, and I went north. I believed I was going out to verify a “remediated road” or something like that. I followed an old road downhill, then around a corner. As I came around the corner, I yelled: “That’s not a remediated road” (by now, you know I talk to myself in the field). I recorded my notes and took my field photos for the log. I also took some pictures with my cell phone because I could not believe what I was seeing. I promptly headed out to meet back up with the guys and head back to our camp HQ. Of course, no field day in the snow is complete without a little extra excitement, but I will save that tale for another time…
Make sure to check back monthly for more of Annette's Adventures! And be sure to follow us on Facebook!