1. Primary source research is a focus. We were able to collaborate with the folks at Houghton Library to connect kids directly to Roosevelt's diaries. From there we asked kids to decode his writing and identify his interactions with nature. They are asked to support or challenge the statement that time spent outside influence Roosevelt's conservation achievements.
2. Visiting land in conservation is now a lesson, not a suggestion. This year we asked all schools to identify local resources and then visit them! The power of primary experiences.
3. Challenges are local. Last year we asked students to work together around the state and come up with universal challenges. This year, it's all place-based stuff. Kids are teamed from around the state, but they not doing work for each other, instead they consult with each other on their local work. So far, so good. Examples: conserving piping plover habitat. Reducing colony collapse of bees. Reducing invasive species. Dune grass restoration. One school I visited has a very special population of butterflies that only live in cedar swamps. They want to make sure these guys live on.
4. Our website is less confusing. Overall far less reports of misunderstanding.
5. Rugged deadlines. Unlike last year, this year I have the whole project aligned to a timeline that is rugged but doable. Last year we made it about halfway through the project with the kids. I predict this year several schools will do it all.
I'm actually on the road right now, between school visits, and marveling at the great state of Maine.