From the Ground Up: Virtual Conference Teaches Families How to be ‘Green’

The weather has changed and families are spending less time outside and more under the same roof. By now the novelty is wearing thin and everyone is looking for something new to do together. Perhaps you and your partner have an interest improving the environment. Kristi Cooper, Family Life Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, has an idea for you!   
Q: My family wants to learn how to be more ‘green’. I want my children to be involved in making decisions that honor the earth, our financial resources and keep us healthy at the same time.
A:  The ISU Eco Family Virtual Conference is for adults and children who want to learn to live green in 2014!  Families across Iowa will be getting together — virtually — once a month from January through June for an Eco Family Virtual Conference from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. It’s an opportunity for your household to improve the environment, reduce your carbon footprint and create community as you participate in a do-as-you-learn format.  The online conference is designed with families in mind so everyone can participate and benefit, even families with young children.

Once enrolled in the conference, your family will have access to an online ‘flipped classroom” full of educational videos, software to create personal avatar videos, family activities and other resources to explore for one month before the session. On the first Thursday of each month, January through June, participants will share during the 90-minute session what they have learned and experienced. As a group you will have the opportunity to create action plans for your family and community.

2014 Virtual Eco Family Conference online sessions held first Thursdays 6:30 – 8:00 pm

  • Jan. 2 – Energy(materials available Dec. 1, 2013)
  • Feb. 6 – The New Economy(materials available Jan. 3)
  • March 6 – Food and Genetic Engineering(materials available Feb. 7)
  • April 3 – Air Quality(materials available March 7)
  • May 1 – We Are Nature(materials available April 4)
  • June 5 – Water(materials available May 2)

To participate in the conference, families need a computer with high-speed Internet access, speakers or headphones and a microphone. Registration is available online at The registration fee for the six-session virtual conference is $70. Registration also can be made by the session; fee is $15 per session after that date. Once registered, participants will receive log-in directions for accessing the virtual classroom for all conference sessions.
Connecting to people where they are is one of the things ISU Extension and Outreach does best. We want to make this available to people in multiple places, rather than limit the learning experiences to a geographic location. You get a chance to connect with others of similar interests. Also, people have used the virtual conference topics and activities to create community close to where they live.
This is the 3rd year the Eco Family Virtual Conference series has been offered.  Families choose their goals and learn ways to save money, improve the environment, and, best of all –have fun together! Hope you will join us this year!

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