NYSOEA’s 50th Anniversary Sponsors and Partners –
The Paul-F Brandwein Institute and The American Nature Study Society
The Paul F-Brandwein Institute: Continuing a Legacy in Conservation Education
Keith A. Wheeler, John “Jack” Padalino, and Marily DeWall
Mission: To perpetuate the work of Paul F-Brandwein, the Institute is dedicated to the education of all learners in recognition of their interdependence with nature and responsibility for sustaining a healthful and healing environment.
During his lifetime as educator, author, lecturer, editor, scientist, conservationist, leader, friend, mentor, and humanitarian, Paul F-Brandwein entered the minds and hearts of many who had the opportunity to work and learn with him as well as many others who knew and learned from him through his published works and presentations. With his wife and partner, Mary, he transformed an historic farmhouse and surrounding lands into a homestead. Throughout his life, Paul Brandwein helped people become better environmental citizens by providing them with the tools for literacy needed to understand and act on environmental problems.
On March 1, 1994, Paul and Mary, together with their friend and Paul’s coauthor on many projects Evelyn Morholt, created the Rutgers Creek Wildlife Conservancy of the Brandwein-Morholt Trust, as a means to sustain and restore a small but important area of this historic region of New York State in perpetuity… to serve as a living nature laboratory, a special place —The Rutgers Creek Wildlife Conservancy — for learners of every age and background to investigate, to discover, to learn, and to enhance their sense of wonder.
1995-98: Initial meetings among Mary Brandwein, Brandwein-Morholt Trust, Jack Padalino, Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), Bill Hammond, Natural Context, Alan Sandler, American Institute of Architects, Marily DeWall National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Keith Wheeler, Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) provided core ideas for a collaborative relationship between the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) and the Brandwein-Morholt Trust.
The Paul F. Brandwein Lecture Series was established as an ongoing session at the National Science Teachers Association Annual Meeting. The first lecture was delivered by Dr. William Stapp, Professor Emeritus, Department of Environmental Education, University of Michigan. Since its inception, the Lecture Series has featured among others, Bill Hammond, FL Gulf Coast University, Cheryl Charles, Children & Nature Network, Charles Roth, Massachusetts Audubon, Lynn Cherry, Author and Richard Louv, Author & Futurist.
1999: The Institute was incorporated as a not for profit (501c3) organization, known as the Paul F-Brandwein Institute, Inc.
2000-2001-2002: A grant from the Toyota USA Foundation enabled the Foundation to plan and
run three years of Summer Leadership Institutes in for teachers, scientists, naturalists and others at the Rutgers Creek Wildlife Conservancy located in Greenville NY. The Summer Leadership Institutes were held with new 20 teachers and numerous resource people participating every year. Teachers learned to implement long-term ecological research, integrating field-based inquiry with technology, exploring assessment strategies and techniques for use with students.
2005-06: The Conservation Learning Summit (CLS) was held, November 4-6, with representatives from 75 government agencies, academia, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropy, and business, to discuss critical issues of conservation education and the workforce. A press briefing at the National Press Club was held in May to announce the results of the CLS. Richard Louv was the featured speaker.
The Institute Board of Directors approved the “Brandwein Medal” to be given each year to an individual or organization whose focus is in keeping with Paul and Mary Brandwein’s commitment to education, life-long learning, nature, and community. Brandwein medal recipients represent the ‘world-wide’ efforts of many individuals and organizations, public and private, committed to these goals. Brandwein Medal recipients include: David Brown, 5th Grade teacher from Quincy, MA, Toyota Motors, Kartikeya Sarabhai, founder of India’s Center for Environmental Education and Robert Bateman, celebrated artist and naturalist.
2009 – 18 The Board funded the creation of interpretive trails on a 30-acre parcel of the Rutgers Creek Conservancy, and an official ground breaking ceremony was held. The property was designated as the Brandwein Nature Learning Preserve (BNLP). Upon completion of the trails, boardwalks, pavilions, information kiosks, and benches, the formal dedication of BNLP was held. Two-week Summer Science Camps and Sundays at the Preserve, featuring various naturalists and activities, were held at the BNLP.
2015 – The Institute hosted a three-day conference, “Inspiring a New Generation North American Summit” that was held at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. Nearly 200 participants came from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as well as few from other countries, including Brazil, Peru, Australia, Italy, and China.
(Fyi – It was at this Conference in 2015 that NYSOEA’s Legacy Committee took a turnaround and the 50th Anniversary Conference started to take shape with several conversations and plenty of notes written on napkins and placemats and a whole lot of positive energy and commitments … and here we are…)
To learn more about the Paul-F Brandwein Institute, its history and programs visit: https://brandwein.org/.
The American Nature Study Society (ANSS)
1908 – 2008
A Frank Knight Mini-History 2018
In the late 1800s, a series of economic depressions drove farmers to tenement life in the city. The American Nature Study Society (ANSS) was founded at the 1908 annual meeting in Chicago of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), by a large and distinguished group of its academic members to promote and teach school science. Also in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt convened his famous Conference of Governors with several actions of lasting significance; most notably creation of state conservation departments. Cornell’s Liberty Hyde Bailey, ANSS’ first and sixth president, was appointed by Roosevelt Chairman of the National Commission on Country Life which called for revitalizing American agriculture. Among Baily’s many accomplishments were agricultural extension services, the 4-H movement, the nature study movement, parcel post and rural electrification. Fifth president Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study (1911) (still in print today) and her School Leaflets series at Cornell were part of a major campaign to keep families on the farm.
Arguably the two most significant nature study publications in the first half of the 20th century were Comstock’s Handbook and E. Laurence Palmer’s Fieldbook of Natural History (1949).
Surviving two World Wars, ANSS had its financial ups and downs with chapters across the U.S. and Canada at its peak, and a succession of three official publications over the decades: Nature Study Review edited by Comstock was succeeded in the 1920s by Nature Magazine edited by Cornell’s Palmer, Prof. of Nature and Science Education. In the 1970s the Journal Nature Study became ANSS’ final official organ edited by John Gustafson and Helen Ross Russell, the first woman PhD graduated from Palmer’s department. Nature study had a broad interpretation encompassing science education including all of the science -ologies; not just the natural sciences. Glacial geologist Louis Agassiz had famously admonished educators in the mid-nineteenth century teaching by rote from antiquated texts to “Study Nature; not books”. Comstock, ANSS fourth president, eloquently clarified mistaken notions about science in her Handbook introduction: “Nature-study is science brought home. It is a knowledge of botany, zoology and geology as illustrated in the dooryard, the corn-field or the woods back of the house. …nature has furnished the material and laboratories on every farm in the land.” Certainly, in the latter half of the 20th century, nature study evolved to include all the multidisciplinary non-science disciplines we teach today as espoused by NYSOEA and the John Burroughs Association (JBA), to name only two groups. ANSS Journals reflected this evolution through the Gustafson and Russell years.
ANSS was sustained for a century without a mission statement by its continuity policies. Top leadership became a four-year commitment: one year as President-elect followed by two years as President followed by a year as Past-President; each office with very specific duties. By the time I became the 51st president in 1987, ANSS had mastered sustainability. ANSS’ memorable seven-word slogan: Excellence in Nature Study, Writing and Appreciation gave focus for a century. ANSS became a magnet for nature writers, many of whom besides Bailey, Comstock and Russell, became President; notably: Roger Tory Peterson and Edwin Way Teale. At each of the annual meetings, I recall helping unpack and repack an increasingly heavy load of boxes of display books by members to inspire the next generation. In the 1960s, the annual Eva L. Gordon Award for Outstanding Children’s Science Literature was created for an author’s body of work. I was awed by the recognition my literary heroes were given at a Gathering of the Elders: writers like Millicent Selsam, Jean Craighead George and Golden Nature Guides author Herbert Zim. Awardees eagerly contributed essays and art work for publication in Nature Study.
A Service Award called the Gus for John Gustafson, its first recipient who had served as President’ and then Treasurer for all the years I knew him, had many worthy recipients. Inspired by the Burroughs Medal awarded by the JBA and the NYSOEA’s highest honor, the Golden Award for founder, SUNY Cortland Prof. Harlan “Gold” Metcalf, I created the Liberty Hyde Bailey Award, rarely bestowed to individuals espousing his ideals.
As with the demise of many venerable institutions and individuals, there is seldom a single cause. By the 1990s, excellence in reading and writing were being replaced by what fit on a computer screen. Certainly, eBooks, digital newsletters and journals are more quickly and inexpensively produced but also more disposable.
The American Nature Study Society’s 100-year legacy of Excellence in Nature Writing, Study and Appreciation is now available to educators everywhere.