Welcome to Environmental Education
Kristen sledding with her son

My name is Kristen Melby and I am so excited to be working at Dowling.  I have worked in Minneapolis Public Schools since 2009, working in elementary schools and early childhood education.  I also spent 10 years working on an organic farm in southern Minnesota. Dowling has 22 acres-the largest classroom in all of Minneapolis and I am excited to be a part of this vibrant and diverse environment. 

Spending time outdoors is good for students (and adults)

Studies show, as well as history, that spending time outdoors is beneficial for the physical, emotional, and educational well-being of students. We plan to be outdoors every day, no matter the weather (as long as safety is not a concern).  This time outdoors will be spent working in the orchard and garden, exploring the forests and hiking on the trails near the river.  Students consistent time outdoors will offer them a chance to be in their environment throughout the different seasons.  https://www.jeffersfoundation.org/documents/Childrens-Health-and-Nature-Fact-Sheet.pdf

Environmental Justice

Youth around the world are working and advocating to be voices of change.  Recognizing that humans impact the environment and realizing that we have the power to be agents of positive change is a key part of the work in environmental education.  This may include composting, recycling, sustainable farming, adopting a drain, or citizen science.  


How Can You Get Involved in Environmental Education at Dowling?

I am so glad you asked!

Volunteering: We always need volunteers to help with students’ outdoor time.  Coordinating with your student's teacher about when they will be participating in outdoor learning can help tremendously.  In addition, all students will get Environmental Education on a 6-day rotation and the more volunteers the better (especially when we take hikes along the river or  in the winter when we are getting on snow shoes and skis!)

Gardening:  Gardening is a year-round endeavor (even in Minnesota).  In September, October, and November we are harvesting and preparing the garden plots for winter. December and January are good months to plan for the upcoming season and order seeds.  During February, March and April we can start seeds indoors.  May and June are when we can start transitioning plants and planting seeds directly and preparing the beds to be planted. 

Greenhouse:  We are planning on getting the greenhouse up and running.  We will be planting micro greens and salad mixes to start. We are also looking for volunteers to help clean up and organize the materials. 

Compost: We got a generous donation of cedar compost bins that need to be built.  We are planning on putting them near the orchard and raised beds so we can compost rotting fruit as well as any plant material from the end of the season. 

Orchard: This fall we will prepare our new trees to make it through the winter.  We will put a protective sleeve over the small trunks so that the rabbits don't eat the bark during the winter months. 

Prairie: There are several prairie gardens at Dowling that could use some care! 

If you have interest in helping out in any of these areas, whether it is a few hours one time or an ability to volunteer more consistently, please let us know. 


You can contact me, Kristen Melby, at kristen.melby@mpls.k12.mn.us or 612-442-6981