Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development, renewable energy, and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. She is the current Program Director for Honor the Earth and founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based nonprofit organizations in the country. In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community commitment. In 1994, she was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and is presently an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands Native Lands Program.
Thursday * February 15, 2018
FGCU Cohen Center Ballroom
Friday * February 16, 2018
St. Michael & All Angels Church, Sanibel
This past summer, Neil Wilkinson, the interim director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU and Felicia Nudo, a student at FGCU, brainstormed ideas to bring more environmental education in the classroom. They decided they would use the novel, Flush, by Carl Hiaasen, to integrate real life environmental issues through reading. Felicia collaborated with Mrs. Soucy, a fourth grade teacher and her class at Franklin Park Elementary School located near downtown Fort Myers.
The impact of humans on coastal environments is central to the story with two school aged children taking a stand against polluters. Noah and Abbey are brother and sister. Their father is an environmentalist who discovers a local casino boat is dumping sewage into a nearby bay and he gets arrested for sinking the boat. When casino operations resume so does the dumping. So, Noah and Abbey decide to find proof of the dumping to vindicate their father and bring the casino owner to justice. The setting of the book is in southern Florida and relates directly to environmental and water quality issues we face on a global and local scale, including releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and the toxic dumping site in the Dunbar Community.
Since August, Felicia has been visiting the students once or twice a week to read the chapters with them and deliver environmental education lessons. The lessons included art, hands on science, and writing activities. The students created anti-litter campaign posters that are now displayed throughout the school, and focused on manatees as November was manatee awareness month.
For the end of the curriculum, the students went on an environmental education field trip to Manatee Park and Billy's Creek Filter Marsh Preserve. At the first stop the students learned more about manatees and walked through the park learning about the different plants and animals found there. The second stop focused on what is a filter marsh is and how it works to filter water and reduce pollutant loads before they reach the ocean.
Since the novel takes place in a coastal environment, Ms. Soucy and Felicia submitted a grant application to J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge & “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society in hopes of securing funding to take all of the 4th grade students to the Sanibel Sea School so they can have more hands-on experiences in nature.
Felicia believes students in all grade levels need more exposure to nature and environmental issues (pollution, habitat loss, etc.) so that they can foster a passion to protect the Earth. Felicia wants these next generation students to have more opportunities to accomplish this.
As part of the lessons she also taught them about inspirational historical figures such as Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela because they stood up for what they believed in and didn't give up. The students wrote letters to their local council members to express their concern for the environment and asked them to be more involved in finding solutions.
Franklin Park Elementary is one of the most impoverished schools in the county and these enrichment activities are needed now more than ever. Felicia’s hope is that she has exposed the students to information they will carry with them through school, and to always stand up for what they believe in. Felicia strives to be a positive role model for these students, and that by taking individual action Felicia can encourage collective responsibility, ultimately becoming an agent of change.