EMEAC's mission is to protect and restore land, air, water and diversity of life through informed personal and public action.
Mr. Diana Copeland Diana Copeland
Co Principal Officer
Diana Copeland Diana Copeland Diana Copeland
4605 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
environmental education programs, air, water, land, diversity of life, environmental justice, media arts
Environmental Education and Outdoor Survival Programs (C60)
Youth Development Programs (O50)
Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)
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This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.
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Multicultural Environmental Arts & Science Labs
Nature study and reflection areas on Detroit Public School grounds
Recent research in environmental education confirms that school ground naturalization projects can benefit children in a variety of ways. As described by Richard Louv in Last Child in the Woods, today’s children are losing their connection to nature. This connection is essential to developing a strong environmental ethic as adults. East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) works with hundreds of youth in Detroit and we are excited to further engage youth with their natural environment by transforming Detroit school grounds.
Nature Study: Through hands-on involvement in designing, creating, caring for and using school nature areas, children stand to improve their academic performance and to develop the capacity to work for the good of their community. A study of 40 schools in the United States in which the environment is used as an “integrated context for learning”, convincingly demonstrates its pedagogical advantages. Of the 252 teachers who participated in the study, the majority reported that when the natural environment was the context for hands-on, place based learning, students improved in(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftn1) :
· Standardized test scores
· Grade point average
· Willingness to stay in school
· Adaptability to various learning styles
· Problem solving
We would like to implement a model outdoor classroom at Barbara Jordan – the elementary and middle school where we are currently housed. We are working with University of Michigan landscape architecture students to create a variety of designs to transform schools into environmental learning centers. With funding we could host a design contest between schools and work with the ‘best designs’ to implement the student’s vision into their school’s landscaping. Currently we work with Birmingham Environmental Center and their director, Barbara Pepper, is interested in acting as a consultant for ‘nature classrooms’ that may be created out of the empty classrooms found in many of the Detroit Public Schools buildings.
Pedagogical Potential of School Grounds: Through hands-on and minds-on involvement in designing, creating, caring for and using school nature areas, children stand to improve their academic performance and to develop the willingness and capacity to work for the good of the human and natural communities of which they are a part. In Nature Nurtures, a comprehensive review of current literature on the potential of school grounds, James Raffan puts forward abundant evidence of these and other benefits, outlining the far-reaching advantages of outdoor, experiential, project-based education(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftn2) . Particularly promising, according to Raffan, is that educators are re-thinking curriculum – both the formal, subject bound curriculum and the “hidden curriculum” of surveillance and control that is implicit in today’s school yard design. Teachers are gaining a newfound appreciation for the pedagogical potential of school grounds projects that integrate disciplines, have tangible outcomes, and foster ties with the community at large. For students, active participation in such projects gives purpose, meaning and relevance to learning(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftn3) .
Ugliest School Yard(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftn4) Competition (or Ultimate School Makeover): Several schools in Detroit have expressed interest to EMEAC in developing an outdoor classroom and nature study/ reflection areas. To address school capacity for creating and maintaining an outdoor classroom we propose hosting an ugliest schoolyard competition. With the support of the Kellogg Foundation the winning school would receive $5,000 to $10,000 to spend on plants and materials for greening the school grounds, and assistance by the EMEAC staff and University of Michigan landscape design students in planning and implementing the project. Independently schools will complete entry forms while a panel of experts (such as professionals from the University of Michigan, Wayne State, and landscape architects) will choose the winning schools. This project will give students and staff ownership over their outdoor classroom and provide a process of integrating the nature study area into the schools curriculum. The competition also provides the potential of bringing considerable media attention to a city-wide problem. While there will only be a few winners, the contest encourages all schools to take notice of the physical condition of their schoolyards and reflect on the extent to which they offer an educational and life-enhancing environment for children. Every school that enters the contest will all be acknowledge with an awards ceremony at their school, treated to an environmental field trip where they may explore outdoor classroom best practices, and encouraged to participate in EMEAC programs and apply again next year.
Preparing the entry forms (schools should submit):
- a written description of their school grounds with photos showing several views
- a site plan of the area to be greened
- letters of support from the principal and parent council
- a proposal outlining how the prize money will be put to use
- information on the number of students in the school; the size of the grounds; the percentage covered by buildings, grass, and asphalt; the amount of shade and seating available; and existing vegetation
Picking a winner: The school will be selected based not only on the bleakness of the schoolyard, but more importantly, on the quality of the proposal and the evidence of leadership and commitment to transforming the schoolyard. Top schools will be visited by EMEAC. The winning school will be widely publicized and local politicians, sponsors and media will be invited to the opening event. Press releases will encourage additional donation of funds, materials and labor by individuals and businesses around Detroit.
Maximize learning by combining indoor laboratory with outdoor classroom: To ensure that each school has the capacity for maintaining an outdoor classroom and to help integrate the outdoor learning area into the school’s curriculum we propose Companion Environmental Arts and Science (EAS) labs inside the school. The EAS Sciences labs provide tools for teachers to bring meaningful and community relevant environmental educational curricula into their school. Detroit Public Schools are pockmarked with empty classrooms; the students who haven’t yet fled the district are not getting much, if any, environmental science or art instruction. In an attempt to re-spirit and re-vitalize these schools we propose EAS labs complete with green media labs, puppet making space for the procession of the species, nutrition and gardening space, microscope and environmental monitoring storage, and room for environmental leadership and civic engagement trainings. A large empty classroom is ideal for transformation into an EAS lab that features a garden where youth can grow plants, a conference room for leadership trainings, and a teachers' environmental education resource library (we currently supply teachers with curricula that are nationally recognized as best practices in Environmental Education).
Each EAS lab will have three main programs: Sharing Nature with Children (Outdoor classrooms), Re-Media and Cleaner Air for Children. All programs include environmental leadership and skill training, career mentorship and curricula support for teachers. For each of our programs, schools will have professional residencies. As part of the Re-Media lab, students will have the opportunity to work with industry professionals during on-location internships for filming projects, work with ‘Green Media’ academics and professional experts to create their own environmental public services announcements. Sharing Nature with Children students work with nutritionists and a variety of artists on green school and outdoor classroom design and for the All Species event. Environmental scientists will have week long residencies as part of the community monitoring program. Air Quality scientists will join students to design science and math projects from Clean Air Task Force and the University of Michigan. AmeriCorps members, community and parent volunteers with environmental and art experience will have year long residencies inside the schools to run and assist with environmental classes and lessons and to care for the green school grounds.
EAS lab staff act as facilitators both in a formal way at meetings as well as behind the scenes as coaches and consultants. Through skillful facilitation that helps participants see the connections between ideas, EAS labs support teachers to break out of the box, to think big and help teachers collaborate and translate curriculum ideas into action oriented local projects. This flexibility allows EAS labs to meet specific needs of the site including addressing particular cultural and other human diversity factors present. In effect, the facilitation approach allows the program to customize itself to any setting. That customization is vital to a culturally competent approach. In addition to recognizing the cultural and community factors, our programs will teach students about the ecological factors that are relevant to the birds, animals, and plants that call Michigan home.
EMEAC will integrate the environmental outdoor classroom with the lessons taught in the indoor classrooms. Barbara Pepper of BEC will assist EMEAC in creating activity stations for each EAS lab and an overall education curricula using lessons from MEECS(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftn5) and other best standards in environmental education. These best practices will be coordinated with DPS standards; for example, Air Quality is a required subject in Middle School science curricula. Our Cleaner Air for Children program meets these standards with the added educational bonuses of project-based and community service learning.
Over the summer we will conduct 2-3 workshops for teachers, volunteer parents, AmeriCorps members, and EAS laboratory staff. These workshops are essential to train teachers and staff to properly use the outdoor classroom and EAS lab according to EMEAC’s curricula. Community members and parent hired as part-time EAS staff will join AmeriCorps members to increase the community’s involvement in the school and environmental programming. Parents and community members will become more knowledgeable about the students’ educational experiences, which EMEAC will customize to maximize learning indoors and outside.
Arts and the Environment: EMEAC feels that an interest in nature can be sparked through a variety of mediums including media and the arts. Working in partnership with the Matrix Theater and EMEAC, students will put on an All Species puppet parade. All Species projects offer a way to strengthen our connection with the earth by making the needs of plants, animals – and the planet as a whole – more apparent to the human connection. The idea was conceived in 1978 in San Francisco and further developed into an educational program for schools and community groups by Chris Wells who studied festival development and tribal celebrations in South America. The projects invite students to adopt a favorite species and take on the role of that creature in activities that explore relationships and celebrate diversity. Since we have such an amazing diversity of plants and animals in our own state (and Detroit is located on a major bird of prey migration path) we will emphasis Michigan flora and fauna. We will place local artists and art students in residence with schools that have chosen to work on the All Species Project.
Advocacy – No Child Left Inside: EMEAC is a steering committee member of Michigan No Child Left Inside Coalition. The purpose of the committee is to create policy to insure that every child in Michigan has the access and opportunity to develop their own personal connection to nature. EMEAC hosts civic engagement trainings for youth and we encourage children to join in advocacy and share with decision makers their experience with nature and the importance of preserving natural spaces during their annual trips to Lansing.
EMEAC’s civic engagement trainings teach youth and community members how to effectively speak to their representatives. Participants learn skills on how to research current and local bills and how to find out more information about their representative. Through role-playing activities participants have a chance to practice talking about environmental health issues that concern them most.
Investigation of Best Practices: To facilitate the visioning process for Detroit Public Schools, young people would participate in a “Best Practices” tour of Michigan based, nature facilities that incorporate nature as a key part of their learning environment. Destinations would include environmental settings such as Detroit’s Catherine Ferguson Academy and the D-Town Farm, the Straw bale Studio in Oxford, and the Leslie Science Center in Ann Arbor to cite a few examples. Young people from the schools identified as part of the Ugliest School Yard competition would be invited to take part in the study-trip to observe and analyze current environmental learning centers and construction alternatives, as well as ask questions about how to best incorporate those practices into rejuvenating Detroit Public Schools. Students would assemble their data, photographs, and interviews for school and neighborhood presentations to collect feedback and ideas, but most importantly school and community buy-in to the importance, relevance, and long term benefit of nature study and reflection areas on Detroit Public School grounds.
In addition, this youth study-trip would broaden the opportunity for place-based and experiential learning. As young people develop an awareness of the possibilities that exist for integrating nature based learning in the school environment and apply what they learn, seeing transformation take place as a direct result of their input and effort, they will be taking part in a process that will ultimately foster a deeper connection to place, the feeling of ownership, and responsibility for their immediate environment. First hand observational analysis and application such as this offers a holistic approach to examining the environment, especially the importance of how everything in the environment interacts together in systems of relationships; everything is interconnected and interdependent upon one another – and not just in the natural environment, but in all aspects of life. Acquiring a multi-faceted lens with which to view the environment will ultimately contribute to the creation of healthier, stronger, more vibrant communities overall.
Commitment to Diversity in Imagining an Urban Nature Agenda: EMEAC believes it is essential for Detroit school students to have role models that have similar life experiences or cultural backgrounds in order to imagine themselves in environmental careers and identify with the environmental movement. A majority of EMEAC’s staff are professionals of color and we demonstrate leadership in issues of community, diversity, and inclusion. When working with the University of Michigan we request students of color and Detroit residents. With the support of the Kellogg Foundation, we would also expand our participant’s access to a diverse representation of professionals in the field through a guest speaker/artist series.
EMEAC also believes in approaching Environmental Education from a base of cultural relevancy and appropriateness. By reaching out to traditionally underrepresented groups, our goal is to make environmental education and its application more accessible to everyone. Our thoughtful, well constructed leadership trainings and workshops encourage young people and adults to demonstrate leadership around environmental issues specific to Detroit, while broadening their environmental view in concentric circles. We are also in the process of creating a series of workshops specifically geared toward supporting efforts at increasing diversity and inclusion among other environmental organizations.
EMEAC partners with the University of Michigan School of Social Work and School of Natural Resources and the Environment to create environmental science opportunities and natural spaces around Detroit Public schools. We currently work closely with 5 schools and 10 youth organizations. Programs that engage youth in their natural environment will have a long-term impact on the students’ educational experiences and we imagine such activities becoming a best practice in education.Our staff is very well suited to these tasks as we are trained to conduct trainings in Environmental Education with urban youth and have done so successfully for many years.
EMEAC has consulted with Detroit’s Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership and the University of Michigan’s Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning to incorporate quality service-learning procedures in its programs. This pedagogy changes the image of community service as merely sweeping or cleaning. For both the college student volunteers and the Detroit Public School students of various ages, EMEAC’s service learning programs offers a challenging, thought provoking experience.
Service learning or civic engagement curricula in the schools offered something valuable for every student. Students who were in danger of failing or dropping out could gain confidence from problem solving, teamwork, and adult role models and relationships besides traditional classroom teachers. Students who were successful in the public schools often received many messages that success would come only from leaving the community. These students could find success by working with and helping other students and by making a mark on their local communities.
The city of Detroit is currently struggling to retain its professional class. Our service learning curricula helps spark in young people an interest in the issues facing Detroit and tools to join in community with others who seek to alleviate environmental and other community crises.
Because of EMEAC’s current and projected work we are confident that we will make ideal and effective partners for the Kellogg Foundation to incorporate Richard Louv’s ideals of ‘getting youth out in nature’ programs in Detroit.
(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftnref1) Pew Charitable Trust, “Closing the Gap on Achievement”
(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftnref2) James Raffin – Nature Nurtures: Investigating the Potential of School Grounds
(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftnref3) Kendall – Experiential Learning in Schools and Higher Education
(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftnref4) Program originated in Ottawa Ontario – source: Greening School Grounds 1998. The name of the competition is negotiable!
(http://www2.guidestar.org/NonProfitEditProfile.aspx?orgId=7196062#_ftnref5) The Department of Environmental Quality has compiled benchmarked environmental education material called the Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum System (MEECS) with units in Air, Energy, Water, Land Use and Biodiversity.
Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Young Adults (20-25 years) -- currently not in use
Where we workNew!
East Michigan Environmental Action Council Inc
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.
Board of Directors
as of 5/4/2012
Hugh McDiarmid Jr
Michigan Environmental Council
Term: Apr 2010 - Mar 2013
Dr. Michael Spencer
University of Michigan, Associate Dean School of Social Work
Michigan Welfare Rights Organization
Allied Media Projects
Executive Director Our Kitchen Table
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