Lila Gaertner's Education Portfolio

"Education is a journey, not a race"


Environmental Education ESCI 302

Digital Story Meta-Reflection

Here is my ESCI 302 Digital Story Meta Reflection.

You can also find a copy of my script here: ESCI 302 Script for Digital Story.

I hope you enjoy watching!



CB #6: Interdisciplinary Learning


Overall, I had a lot of fun creating my “Kinderlearning” Micro-Unit plan and I learned a lot about interdisciplinary Environmental Education. Our entire unit aimed to examine the observable characteristics of all living things and to engage our students with nature, explore the characteristics of trees, plants and other life forms, elaborate on previous knowledge of nature and the environment, and evaluate all new learning made by the students. I created an inquiry math lesson within the greater Science/Environmental Education unit that focused on exploring and examining characteristics of trees by talking about the importance of leaves on trees, comparing shapes, sizes, and heights of trees or leaves, and creating patterns with the leaves. I found that my lesson was connected with the first lesson (English) because the students would embark on a nature walk to collect leaves and then create a craft with the leaves by numbering them and ordering them by their size. Since the nature walk is referenced in every other lesson after my math lesson, I was able to learn that it is possible to make a unit plan with lessons that are all linked and interdisciplinary. I learned that even for a Kindergarten class you can create an interdisciplinary unit plan.

By creating my math lesson with connections to Science, I also realized that it is possible to connect subjects of learning together so that students do not get board of learning solely one subject at a time. I find it to be more exciting to learn and even teach lessons that are connected to other subjects, like Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts Educations and English. This reminds me of David Orr’s quote: “All education is environmental education”. This quote makes me think that anything can be Environmental Education if you are willing to make it that way. Teachers need to be aware that anything can be Environmental Education if you plan for it. We as teachers can connect all of our lessons and make them interdisciplinary, just like we did for our Micro-Unit assignment if we so choose. As a future educator, I plan to make a conscious effort to make interdisciplinary environmental lessons and making sure my students engage, explore, explain, and elaborate in the lessons being taught before they are evaluated.

Here is my visual for this week’s Blog. It’s a visual of my “Kinderlearning” Unit Plan and it shows how the lessons are all connected.

Kinderlearning Unit

CB #5: Watershed Action Learning Project


As I reflect on my Watershed Action Learning Project, I realize that I have grown in so many ways. So for my project I pledged to take shorter showers because I used to take 15-20 minute showers by washing my face and also shaving my legs while in the shower. After I found out that a 5 minute shower can use around 25-50 gallons of water, I felt like I really needed to cut down my water usage. I also found that you can buy different shower heads with different flow rates, so when I get my own apartment or house, I plan on using shower heads and faucets that have a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute). I also found from talking casually to people at the Luther College Dorm, that a lot of people really have no idea how much water they use or where it comes from. I really think that people need to know that using too much water is really a part of an ecological crisis and that we must be aware of our usage every day. Most people assume that using too much water is not a big deal, but I think that it really is. Using too much water is actually using up a lot more energy than necessary.

As I was researching about water for this project, I have become more aware of where Regina gets their water from, what watershed Regina Saskatchewan is a part of, the process our water goes through to be drinkable, where our water goes, and how much water I actually use. Throughout this active learning experience, I have learned a lot because I tend to learn things better by actually doing. As a future environmental educator,  I think that it is important for students to be aware of how much water they are using and where their water comes from. In my action learning project, I learned through the different discourses that the people in  Regina uses on average 75, 000 liters of water per day. So I am realizing that we use a lot of water. Also, I have learned that I take too long of showers because on average a 5 minute shower uses 25-50 gallons of water.

I also believe that since I have been very blessed with the accessibility to clean water, I have in some ways taken advantage of it. I have been privileged to with enough money to provide myself with water and it has in some ways made me a bit ignorant because it has always been something that has been easily accessible to me. I have realized that not everyone has the same privilege as me in the world and teaching this to my students would be a good life lesson for them to learn. I think that just because we have an abundance of water that is accessible, does not mean that we can use as much as we want whenever we want. We still need to consider the amount of energy that it takes to clean the water and the energy it takes to get our water from Buffalo Pond Lake. If I were planning a micro unit from my classroom, I would make sure that I would get the students to explore and find out ways in which they could conserve their water in their homes and even in our classroom. If we also took a tour of the Buffalo Pound Water Treatment Plant the students could learn more ways that they could conserve water, learn about  the history behind the lake, land or watershed, and the Aboriginal culture, views or beliefs on water. This would confirm to them about the Aboriginal’s connection to water and overall this tour would hopefully help the students to grow in their ecoliteracy. Then maybe this would lead the students to ecophilia and they would have a new found passion to save their water and use it in different ways while conserving it.

Below you will see a poster I made to promote everyone to conserve water.

Conserve Your Water Drawing


CB #4: My Eco-identities


At the end of this blog you will find a blended watercolor visual representation of my Eco-identity growing up. Eco-identity can be defined as or refer to “all the different ways people construe themselves in relationship to the earth as manifested in personality, values, actions, and sense of self. Nature becomes an object of identification” (Thomashow, p. 3).

When I look back at my life, I find that I have had many opportunities to gain my Eco-identity and some of these places have been on my farm at Gaertner Seeds, Camp Kinasao, and on canoe trips/fall and winter camping/hiking with my school called CLBI. In my picture, I start off by representing my ecological identities and roots starting to be formed at my farm beside the tree. This is why I included a tree in my visual with a GAERTNER SEEDS Tag beside it; this represents where my ecological identity and roots began. This is also where I began to gain ecoliteracy. I started to gain an appreciation for nature, and the environment and living creatures because I always spent a lot of time being outdoors on my farm. I spent time taking care of our garden, being in the fields, and just being outside on the yard playing in the meadow and the caragana trees.

What is special about this picture is that the three places where I found my eco-identity are all connected. They flow together to make one picture and they are connected by the water that is drawn and also the water that was used to smudge the watercolor pencils. You will find that my picture starts with my roots at my farm and then shortly after the roots you will find that the water connects to the lake at Camp Kinasao and the water then flows under the dock to connect to the river that represents all the rivers and lakes that I have canoed on with my classmates and teachers from CLBI. This is all happening with a sun shining down on all three places to represent joyful memories at all of these places that have helped form my eco-identity.

After I became 11 years old, I was able to start attending Camp Kinasao. This is where I spent time playing wide games outside, making crafts with nature, going on nature walks,  spending time at the beach by the lake, sitting on the dock, going kayaking, going canoeing, and going on Pontoon boat rides. I also spent time sharing stories and singing songs around a campfire at Kinasao. When I look at the red canoe with CLBI’s logo on it, I remember all of the times where we were canoeing on the Saskatchewan river, camping along side the river, digging our own toilets, making our own food over a campfire, and packing up everything after we were done camping that we brought with us so that we left the land the same way when we had used it. All three of these places helped me to create my eco-identity and they also taught me to respect, take care of, and appreciate the environment. I am very grateful for these three places and I will continue to remember the impact that they had on me growing up and still continue to have as I live my life.


Thomashow, M. (1996). Ecological Identity: Becoming a reflective environmentalist. MIT Press.

2016-03-03 13.34.19

“In the Middle of Things” Meta-Reflection


As I reflect upon the last 6 weeks of classes in my Environmental Education class and Creative Blog posts, I am noticing that: there is always something new that I will be able to learn about the environment; that I need to keep an open mind; and I need to be prepared to continually teach myself more about ecoliteracy and the environment. As I look back to my blog posts, I have come to realize that there are a few recurring topics. I have found that I talk a lot about my outdoor education and learning experiences at my camp called Kinasao and my past school called CLBI (Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute). Camp Kinasao and CLBI have been a huge influence in my life and I believe that I started my ecological journey by attending both of these places as I grew up. On my camping experiences at CLBI, I found that I not only learned how to camp outdoors in the fall and winter, what to pack, and how to dress, but I also learned how to respect, appreciate and value the environment. I also learned how to “leave no trace” while camping, which I understand as – I should not remove anything from its natural environment or leave any signs in the environment that show that I was there. Not only was I taught to be aware of my surroundings but I was also taught to respect them.

What I find interesting, is that while I was attending both camp and CLBI, I was never taught the importance of the treaties or the aboriginal culture/history that lied within the rivers I had canoed on and the land that I had camped on. I believe that it has been through my ESCI 302 class and reading Newbery’s (2012) article, that I have become more aware of the lack of teaching on aboriginal culture while I was learning about outdoor education. I believe that I could have easily been taught about the treaty land that I was camping/canoeing on and how I could give thanks to the land and the treaties. But as I look back at my training and experience, I find that the opportunity to teach about and intertwine both treaty education and the environment was missed. I hope I do not miss my opportunity to intertwine both of these when I become a teacher and I wonder how well I will actually be able to incorporate treaty education into my lesson plans. My overall hope as a future educator would be to incorporate aboriginal culture into my outdoor education, teach others about the treat land that we live on, and teach people about how to be more thankful towards the land and the treaties.

As I reflect  further upon my definition of ecoliteracy, I have found that my understanding of ecoliteracy has been built upon since I first posted what it meant to be ecoliterate. Something that really helped me to broaden my definition of ecoliteracy was my ecoliteracy braid post. Currently, I do not only know the formal definition of ecoliteracy by Capra which is to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible, but I also understand the definition of ecoliteracy as taking that understanding of the natural environment and using it to create sustainable environments and communities for all life forms. My understanding is also that ecoliteracy is more than just being knowledgeable and appreciating the environment; it is also about sustaining it and not taking it for granted. Looking back at my ecoliteracy braid helped me to discover that reading other classmates opinions and definitions of ecoliteracy can help me to weave their stories and opinions into my stories and opinion to create a whole new story.

Re-reading my ecoliteracy braid assignment then reminded me that stories can be built on top of each other and that they can also be woven together to create a meaningful sharing time. For example, Curthoys’ article helped me to think more about how important storytelling in a circle can be. A story circle can provide a space for people to share oral histories and environmental memories together. Overall, Curthoy helped make it clear to me that story circles (ex. around  campfire) can be a great way to share indigenous teachings and stories and that this would be a great tool to use when teaching about environmental education and aboriginal teachings.

One thing that I noticed about my blog posts was that I left out reference to O’Riley & Cole’s poem called “Coyote and Raven talk about Landscapes”. I believe that I left this reference out of my blog posts because I found it hard to fully understand. One thing that I feel like I should have made reference to was the hint that we are all garbage (p. 29). O’Riley and Cole helped me to realize that we are the reason that the air we breath and the water we drink is polluted. Therefore, we are creating the garbage that comes back to us and is ingested by us, which makes us garbage. I think that this is something that a lot of people overlook and I think that it needs to be addressed more when thinking about being ecoliterate. If we want to become more ecoliterate, we need to keep this in mind – we are garbage and we are the cause of it, so what are you going to do about it?

CB #3: Outdoor Education Trips

CLBI Canoe Trip.jpg

I have personally been on many outdoor education trips. I have been on two week long camping/hiking/canoeing trips in September and I have also been on two winter camp/treks for a week at a time as well. These camping experiences happened as I attended my school called CLBI (Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute). On top of that, I have worked at a camp called Kinasao for many summers in a row, where I have been on at least four other canoe trips across the lake and where we have camped outside in tents. I find camping and canoe trips to be refreshing and also freeing. It seems as though I am traveling in the open air with a fresh sent or breeze on my face. My creative journal piece is a picture that I colored and it basically sums up my experience on my canoe an camping experiences. It was always a fun, enjoyable experience that never had a dull moment. Everyone on the trip was learning together and we all became closer to one another as well.

Now that I look back on my outdoor education experiences, I realize that we spent a lot of time getting to know each other, but only a little bit of time admiring the land. We didn’t even spend any time relating our wilderness experience to the Aboriginal heritage or culture when we should have. I realize now that it would have been a more valuable experience if our school had encouraged everyone on the outdoor trip to think about was what Newbery explained in her article. Newbery explains that canoe trips in Canada are heavily loaded experiences that often carry idealized notions about Canadian identities, fur trade histories, Aboriginal heritage, and fantasies of wilderness (Newbery 2012, p. 31) and this is what I have failed to think about as I have journeyed on my different canoeing and camping trips. Knowing that Canoe trips have the potential to create a meaningful educational experience about Aboriginal culture, we as future educators need to create opportunities for students to learn from and about Aboriginal cultures, while also being mindful of idealizing and historicizing those opportunities. Newbery thinks that this could be an important way of combating the Euro-centrism that pervades educational practice. Even though Newbery often witnesses educators still teaching in a way that avoids exploring the culpability of Canada and Canadian people, we need to start creating opportunities for our students to learn about the Aboriginal culture as we learn about the environment because the two are very much intertwined. We could also help encourage other teachers to create meaningful opportunities to teach their students on Aboriginal culture so that more students will be aware of the culture.

As I have been gaining information on ways of giving thanks or recognizing the historical story of the land, I think that I will try to be more aware of what treaty land I am walking on and respect that treaty land as well. I can also give thanks for the historical land by saying a thankful prayer to the Creator and mother Earth for the land and the environment that I am standing on or using. One final way that I can give thanks is by offering tobacco to the land whenever I use the land’s resources. My hope is to be more thankful for the land and be more aware of the Aboriginal culture of the land that I walk on.

Ecoliteracy Braid

As I am developing my understanding of what it means to be ecoliterate, I have found that everyone has different opinions on what the definition is and what it means to them. People also have their own stories to share when it come to ecoliteracy and being ecoliterate. Some may have seen examples of ecoliteracy in their homes from the siblings or parents, while others have seen examples from their grandparents. I personally have seen ecoliteracy shown to me through my oldest sister, Crystal. She has an admiration for nature and all living things. Therefore, she demonstrates with her actions and her heart that she wants to sustain the environment, “do what is right”, and make those changes or continue those patterns to “make it really count” to be ecoliterate. Like Capra says, “sustainability implies that . . . we must understand the principle of organization that have evolved in ecosystems over billions of years” (p. 10). What Capra means is that this understanding of sustainability and action of sustaining ecosystems is called ecological literacy, which is what my sister Crystal has demonstrated to me as I grew up.

An example of a poem that is similar to my understanding of ecoliteracy, written in my poem, is one written by Dacy Vance. Dacy gives examples that her grandparents taught her about ecoliteracy and some of the similar themes in our poems are “recycling” and keeping the environment and Earth “healthy” or taken “care” of. This is especially important to be ecoliterate because one needs to take care of the environment that we live in if they want it to be sustainable. We can’t have plastic bottles or bags being thrown out into garbage dumps and littering our environment because that would ultimately pollute our environment, make it sick and ultimately “crumble”. I agree with Dacy when she implies that we need to challenge ourselves to not litter and always recycle everything that we can because ultimately, this small everyday action will make our environment a healthier and more sustainable environment to live in.

A different example of ecoliteracy is shown in a letter written by Jessica to her parents. This letter is a bit different than my poem on ecoliteracy, but it is very insightful and meaningful. First of all, Jessica wrote her parents a letter and I wrote a poem about ecoliteracy. Second of all, Jessica thanks her parents for teaching her about making a long term difference in the environment by building up future generations. She says that she fears that the people who are not ecoliterate “will not always appreciate their environment and what it provides”. She says that people do not realize how much they “rely on farmers”, but they should because “nothing in our environment should be taken for granted”. I now understand that ecoliteracy is more than just being knowledgeable about and appreciating the environment, but that it is also sustaining it, and not taking it for granted. I thank Capra, Dacy, and Jessica for helping me on my journey to confirming, but also becoming more aware and knowledgeable of what it really means to be ecoliterate.



Capra, Fritjof (2007). Sustainable Living, Ecological Literacy, and the Breath of Life.

               Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 12, 9-19.


My Eco-Literate Friend

“My Eco-literate Friend” Poem


My Eco-literate Friend

You stop to admire the wonder
Of the birds, flowers and trees.

You never liter and always recycle.
There is no one like you who aspires for these.

You know how to take care of the earth
And you know how to much it is really worth.

You always do what is right for others
And you make things count when it really matters.

Crystal, you make others want to be Eco-literate too!
Even if it means trying something new!

Written By: Lila Gaertner

CB #2: Ecological Literacy


Well here we go again! Another post on an Environmental topic.

First off I would like to open with a quote from Fritjof Capra. Capra states in his article that Environmental Education is “preparing students to participate effectively as members of sustainable communities” (p.9) Therefore, I see myself as an environmentalist who want to participate effectively as a member of a sustainable environment. I always find that if I am even not in an environmentally friendly situation, I try to help sustain the environment in any way that I can. This could be seen as an example of ecoliteracy.

The definition of Ecological literacy (also referred to as ecoliteracy) is “the ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible.” To be ecoliterate, on the other hand, means “understanding the principles of organization of ecological communities (ecosystems) and using those principles for creating sustainable human communities.” By looking at these definitions, I see myself being ecologically literate by understanding the principles of organization that have evolved in the ecosystems over the past 1000 of years.  I would also say that I am ecoliterate by recycling and reusing whatever materials are capable of being recycled and reused at this time or by even just taking care of the environment to create or sustain a sustainable human community. I am ecoliterate by understanding how the environment, its natural systems, ecosystems, cycles, ecological communities work. I am also ecoliterate by developing empathy for all life forms and by making the invisible visible. By feeling empathy for even the smallest life forms or the ones that are taken for granted, I can make these known to other people and make the invisible become visible, so that others can feel empathy for those life forms as well and hopefully want to do something for them by taking care of them, restoring them, or even by just making sure no one takes advantage of them.

Here is my creative journal of what I though of while thinking about Ecoliteracy.

Ecoliteracy Web Map.jpg

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