NOAA Planet Stewards Book Club

The NOAA Planet Stewards book club has a great line-up of books slated for discussion for this academic year. Scroll down to see the titles, brief descriptions and dates of each Book Club meeting. Discussion Questions will be posted approximately one week before each meeting.

To see previously selected books and associated discussion questions, have a look at our Book Club Archive Page.

To make sure you receive reminder announcements about our Book Club, sign up to our mailing list.

Here’s the general information for participating in our Book Club. We hope you’ll join us as we explore new and thought provoking topics.

  • All book club meetings begin at 8:00 pm Eastern Time.
  • Anyone can participate. Just read the book prior to the discussion, and on the day of the meeting dial in using our toll free number 1-866-662-7513. Then use the passcode 1170791#
  • Before each meeting we’ll send out a reminder note through our email list along with series of discussion questions the meeting leader will have prepared.
  • There are a limited number of “seats” available for each meeting. Plan to dial in just a few minutes before the official start time.
  • Have questions? Contact: oceanserviceseducation@noaa.gov

2021 -2022 Academic Year Book Club Selections & Meeting Dates

Book cover for Hoot

Monday, September 13, 2021

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

In this 2003 Newberry award winning book we’re introduced to Roy, and his first acquaintance in Florida, Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn't been sinking his thumbs into Roy's temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and here's the odd part - wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy's trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails. Roy has most definitely arrived in Carl Hiaasen's Florida, where the creatures are wild and the people are wilder!


Book cover for How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

Monday, October 18, 2021

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates

Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide toward certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.

He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions-suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise.

As Bill Gates makes clear, achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan he sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach.


Book cover for Under a White Sky

Monday, November 15, 2021

Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert

That man should have dominion “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” is a prophecy that has hardened into fact. So pervasive are human impacts on the planet that it’s said we live in a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.

In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world’s rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a “super coral” that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth.

One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. In The Sixth Extinction, she explored the ways in which our capacity for destruction has reshaped the natural world. Now she examines how the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face


Book cover for The Omnivore's Dilemma

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

What should we have for dinner? Ten years ago, Michael Pollan confronted us with this seemingly simple question and, with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, his brilliant and eye-opening exploration of our food choices, demonstrated that how we answer it today may determine not only our health but our survival as a species. In the years since, Pollan’s revolutionary examination has changed the way Americans think about food. Bringing wide attention to the little-known but vitally important dimensions of food and agriculture in America, Pollan launched a national conversation about what we eat and the profound consequences that even the simplest everyday food choices have on both ourselves and the natural world. Ten years later, The Omnivore’s Dilemma continues to transform the way Americans think about the politics, perils, and pleasures of eating.


Book cover for Sustainable book

Monday, January 10, 2022

Sustainable by Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher

A vital investigation of the economic and environmental instability of America’s food system, from the agricultural issues we face — soil loss, water depletion, climate change, pesticide use — to the community of leaders who are determined to fix it. Sustainable is a film about the land, the people who work it and what must be done to sustain it for future generations.

The narrative of the film focuses on Marty Travis, a seventh-generation farmer in central Illinois who watched his land and community fall victim to the pressures of big agribusiness. Determined to create a proud legacy for his son, Marty transforms his profitless wasteland and pioneers the sustainable food movement in Chicago.

Sustainable travels the country seeking leadership and wisdom from some of the most forward thinking farmers like Bill Niman, Klaas Martens and John Kempf – heroes who challenge the ethical decisions behind industrial agriculture. It is a story of hope and transformation, about passion for the land and a promise that it can be restored to once again sustain us.


Book cover for Our changing menu book

Monday, February 7, 2022

Our changing menu by Michael Hoffman, Carrie Koplinka, and Danielle Eisenman

Our Changing Menu unpacks the increasingly complex relationships between food and climate change. Whether you're a chef, baker, distiller, restaurateur, or someone who simply enjoys a good pizza or drink, it's time to come to terms with how climate change is affecting our diverse and interwoven food system.

The Authors an eye-opening journey through a complete menu of before-dinner drinks and salads; main courses and sides; and coffee and dessert. Along the way they examine the escalating changes occurring to the flavors of spices and teas, the yields of wheat, the vitamins in rice, and the price of vanilla. Their story is rounded out with a primer on the global food system, the causes and impacts of climate change, and what we can all do. Our Changing Menu is a celebration of food and a call to action―encouraging readers to join with others from the common ground of food to help tackle the greatest challenge of our time.


Book cover for Girl Warriors book

Monday, March 7, 2022

Girl Warriors: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the World by Rachel Sarah

They organize, they network, they give speeches. They travel, they pick up trash, they volunteer, they establish organizations. They raise their voices, and they emphasize the role of climate justice in dismantling other systems of oppression. Most of all, these young people fight for their right to a future and the necessity of a healthy planet to that future. From a Brazilian girl whose concern for the ocean’s health began with her love of surfing to a young Harlemite of Dominican descent whose cerebral palsy doesn’t stop her from doing the work, whether it’s leading a county committee or going to medical school, these stories enlighten and inspire. Each activist is introduced with a color photograph, birth date, Instagram handle, pronouns, and something she loves. The four-page text of each profile offers descriptions of the activist in action and quotes by and about her, with her activist origin story woven in. These young people are both remarkable in their hard work and dedication and also ordinary in the sense that they simply decided this issue was too important not to focus on—a winning combination that invites readers to get involved. The anecdotes draw readers in, the facts encourage commitment, and the global diversity drives home the point that this is everyone’s responsibility and an urgent social justice issue.


Book cover for The Soul of an Octopus

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Monntgomery

In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism. From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. Each creature shows her cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orangutan; jetting water to bounce balls; and endlessly tricking companions with multiple “sleights of hand” to get food.

Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. With her “joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures” (Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.


Book cover for Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

Monday, May 16, 2022

Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky.

Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod -- frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod.

Cod is a charming tour of history with all its economic forces laid bare and a fish story embellished with great gastronomic detail. It is also a tragic tale of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once the cod's numbers were legendary. In this deceptively whimsical biography of a fish, Mark Kurlansky brings a thousand years of human civilization into captivating focus.


NOAA Planet Stewards Webinars

There are no Planet Stewards Webinars currently scheduled. You can view 34 selected broadcasts on our Webinar Archives Page.

To receive the latest announcements about upcoming distance and face to face learning opportunities as well as educator and student opportunities and resources, be sure to sign up to the Planet Stewards mailing list.


NOAA Planet Stewards Workshops

workshop logo

Community Resilience to Climate Change: A Virtual Professional Development Workshop for All Educators

NOAA Planet Stewards, Artist Boat and the NOAA Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary welcome you to join us for an interdisciplinary 70% independent learning/self-paced virtual workshop for all educators on climate change impacts to human and natural communities, and the actions you can take to build resilient communities in light of these impacts.

Join us July 5-29, 2021 from anywhere you can Zoom for this exciting opportunity. Formal educators will receive 24 CPE Credit hours. Educators of all subjects are welcome. Give students a voice to empower them, ignite change, and take action!

  • Workshop topics include: How to address climate change controversy; climate change impacts to human health; environmental justice; sustainability in Gulf fisheries; how coastal Texas ecosystems mitigate climate change; and more!
  • Live panel discussions with scientists from NOAA, Environmental Defense Fund, Green Building Resource Center, and more.
  • 70% independent learning with access to a message board to communicate with scientists and your fellow educators.
  • Weekly hands-on activities.
  • Receive NOAA tools and resources for your classroom.
  • Educators in the Galveston Texas area can participate in a 4 hour Kayak Adventure with a local scientist and artist (All Covid-safe protocols are followed, lunch and snacks are provided!)
  • When: July 5-29, 2021. Live panel discussions take place from 9:00 – 11:00 am Central Time on July 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th.
  • Where: Anywhere you can Zoom!
  • Who: Recommended for formal and informal educators working with Middle and High School aged students – but all are welcome!
  • More Information & Register at: https://www.artistboat.org/noaa-professional-development/
  • Cost: Only $20 gets you: 24 CPE credits, vetted educational resources, all presentation videos and slides, 4 hour Kayak Adventure (for attendees in Galveston Texas Area) with coffee, lunch, and snacks – SUCH A DEAL!
  • Questions? Contact: Karissa Laffey (klaffey@artistboat.org) or call: 409-632-0388
planet stewards workshop - lecture on kayaks
planet stewards workshop - classroom setting

workshop logo

Climate Justice: Exploring the Science of Climate Change in Your Classroom

NOAA Planet Stewards and the Detroit Zoological Society are hosting a three-day workshop for educators to explore how global climate change is affecting the metro Detroit region, and how they can engage their students in taking action to address this global phenomena.

Participants will attend:

This workshop is planned for in-person learning. Depending on Covid-19 safety guidelines at the time of the workshop, an alternate, virtual experience may be required. All registrants will be kept apprised of programmatic changes.

Workshop topics include:

How to incorporate weather and climate change activities that meet state curriculum requirements into existing curriculum; using citizen science projects to connect youth with their local environment; mobilizing youth to take action in their communities.

Workshop features:

  • Opportunities to learn from and interact with subject matter experts.
  • Hands-on learning experiences at the Detroit Zoo and Belle Isle Nature Center.
  • Light continental breakfast, lunch, and snacks are included for each day of the workshop. Beverages and appetizers will be provided at the August 19 evening event.
  • Detroit educators will receive resources for their classrooms, and a fully paid opportunity (including transportation!) to bring their students to the Detroit Zoo or Belle Isle Nature Center for a learning experience.
  • When/Where:

    Tuesday, August 17 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Detroit Zoo.
    Wednesday, August 18, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Belle Isle Nature Center.
    Thursday, August 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Detroit Zoo..

  • Who: Teachers in the Detroit area who work with upper elementary, middle or high school students.
  • Cost: $50 includes 14 SCHECHs (State Continuing Education Clock Hours), educational resources, tools and materials for the classroom, a special evening event in the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, Light continental breakfast, lunch, snacks, and a fully paid for field trip for each classroom to visit the Zoo or Nature Center during the school year.
  • To pre-register without obligation and receive more information go to: https://forms.gle/8enHXppH9ckxiw27A
  • Questions? Contact: Claire Lannoye-Hall or Erin Parker