Resource Extraction (Sand Mining) Town Hall Meeting

Teaching Context: Time frame: One 20 minute block of class time, and one 75 minute or two 55 minute class periods (in class or synchronous on-line).Audience: UW-La Crosse General Education students, Geography/Earth Science majors and minors, and teacher candidates. Abstract: This resource provides a class activity based on a “Town Hall Meeting” discussion/debate on resource extraction using sand mining in Wisconsin as a case study.  The activity is designed for a lower-level university course. The objective is to engage students in a lively discussion of different perspectives on the significance of resource extraction held by various stakeholder groups in Wisconsin. It is based on stakeholders within Trempealeau County, but most are also found elsewhere and could readily be adapted to any location within the state. Students divide into representative groups, work collaboratively to explore the diversity of perspectives, and present these during an online synchronous meeting.
Institution: University of Wisconsin - La CrosseAuthor(s): Cynthia Berlin,
Current Status of Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Preparation: GEO 200: Conservation of Global Environments is focused on environmental impacts, resource use and management, environmental and land use ethics, and efforts at environmental conservation. Currently these are addressed in a lecture format, with multiple small group discussions and 3-4 assignments. Two of the current assignments are guided inquiry-based, and more need introduced into the course. The course meets a General Education requirement and a core major requirement in the Department of Geography and Earth Science; and is required of teacher education candidates. EDS 421: Teaching General Science Methods includes the Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Standards.
Evidence of Need:Observations of student discussions in class indicate that although students are aware there are different perspectives and opinions on resource extraction, most students are not familiar with reasons for the different perspectives of stakeholders associated with sand mining. Students come into the course with many erroneous concepts on the scientific evidence of impacts and concerns. They rarely consider the diversity of viewpoints and the impact mining has on groups of individuals (“stakeholders”). They frequently cannot provide any critical analysis of these divergent perspectives and are unable to clearly explain their own perspectives using supporting evidence.Evidence of Success:Student will:
  1. Gain insight into reasons why different groups of individuals (stakeholders) hold different perspectives on the significance of resource extraction through sand mining in Wisconsin.
  2. Be better prepared to present arguments supporting their perspectives and offer rebuttals to misconceptions held by others.
  3. Examine their own perspectives and develop a deeper understanding of mining and equity, environmental stewardship and economic systems.
  4. Assess reliability and validity of sources.
Action plan to revise, improve, or integrate inquiry-based environmental education: This action plan involves the redevelopment of an in-class or online activity presented as a “Town Hall Meeting” where different stakeholders have gathered to discuss and debate their perspectives on the relevance/importance of sand mining to their lives and livelihoods.   The activity will aid in the development of students’ scientific argument skills and provide them with experience in comprehending different perspectives. They will examine stakeholders perspectives and the evidence supporting their points of view. Questions they might address include: Why do different groups of people hold such strong views on mining? What are the reasons underlying their perspectives?  Is there evidence that disagrees with the perspective? Does the science show contradictions or uncertainties that would weaken a stakeholder’s perspective? The discussion/debate is designed for respectful and productive exchange of views. Students should be able to understand the different perspectives and why the stakeholders hold their views.

This activity was originally developed as part of a climate change discussion focusing on step-by-step tasks the students needed to undertake. Degradation of natural and cultural resources due to mining in Wisconsin is not a topic most students have had much exposure to in their studies. This shift from climate change to mining provides students with a new learning experience. The goals of the revision are to: (1) introduce students to the importance of resource extraction by using the case of sand mining, (2) increase student engagement by providing a guided inquiry, (3) introduce students to different perspectives held by stakeholders in Wisconsin and (4) bring students together into working groups to collaborate on developing evidence-based arguments for a “town hall meeting” debate. Using the Learning Cycle for Environmental Education (Beetles Project, The Learning Cycle Explained, the activity involves:
  1. Engagement/Invitation:  Challenge the students to ask why different people (“stakeholders”) have very different perspectives on sand mining. How do different groups, the stakeholders, view mining as a tool for resource extraction? Why do some groups or individuals think the impacts of mining are not something we need to address? Why do others think it is a serious land degradation issue? How can we understand their perspective?
  2. Exploration:  Students work individually and as part of a group of stakeholders. Each student represents a specific stakeholder, and they engage in exploration of that particular perspective. They conduct research into the perspective and investigate underlying reasons the stakeholders have for their perspective.
  3. Explain/Concept Development: Students explain the perspective and provide supporting materials the stakeholder uses as justification.  A short individual report is submitted, and then working in groups the students prepare a presentation for the Town Hall Meeting. The individual report ensures that each student is involved in the exploration and makes a meaningful contribution to their group.
  4.  Application: Students present and debate the different perspectives at the Town Hall Meeting. They apply their knowledge to answer challenging questions made by other students in the class.
  5. Reflection: Students will reflect on how their own perspectives have been altered or strengthened by the knowledge they gained through participating in the Town Hall Meeting.
In what ways will you address Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability Standards Addressed?
ELS.C1.A: Perspective - Students develop and connect with their sense of place and well-being through observation and questioning.          
ELS.EX3.A: Multiple Perspectives - Students assess how diversity influences health and resilience of natural and cultural systems.         
ELS.EX5.A: Decision Making - Students investigate and analyze how change and adaptation impact natural and cultural systems.
ELS.EN6.B: Rights and Responsibility - Students analyze the dynamic balance between natural and cultural systems.
Consider the following items and incorporate those that are appropriate to address the actions above:• Lesson plans and assessments• Steps to implement and evaluate their plan

Activity (Lesson):

The activity specifies using Collaborate Ultra for online group collaborations and the “Town Hall Meeting” presentation, and gives two dates for November 2020. The activity could be adapted to three 55-minute class times, scheduling presentations on two days. Any online discussion management system could be used. In person collaborations and presentations could be done when classes resume face-to-face.

Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin

Notice of Town Hall Meeting

Two meetings will be held to discuss the impacts of sand mining on Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. The first meeting will be on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 and the second on Thursday, November 12, 2020. All meetings will be held through Collaborate Ultra (video conferencing tool) in Canvas.

The Trempealeau County Council has chosen various groups to represent local concerns at a Town Hall Meeting. At the first meeting, on November 10, each group will meet to prepare to present their statements at the Town Hall Meeting on November 12.  Each group will have about 10 minutes to present their point of view on sand mining, how their interests will be impacted, and provide specific actions their group may take to reduce the impacts as well as suggestions for actions the county board should pursue.

The groups are as follows:

  1. Trempealeau County Outdoor Enthusiasts - this group includes the local hiking, canoeing and cross country skiing groups, other outdoor enthusiasts.
  2. Wisconsin Conservationists/Hunting/Fishing Groups – this group includes representative from Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, Local Chapters of Land Trusts and The Nature Conservancy.
  3. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – this group represents the concerns of the WDNR.
  4. Sand Mining Companies – this group represents the interests of the mining companies in the area.
  5. Tourism Industry – this group represents the local tourist organizations, hospitality industry (hotels, motels), county parks and recreation facilities.
  6. The Educational Community – this group includes the administration of all schools (k-12) and teachers in Trempealeau County, local Parent Teacher Associations, and local school boards.

Activity Goal: The goal of this discussion is to become familiar with, and understand underlying reasons for, different perspectives on sand mining in Wisconsin.

Activity Learning Objectives:

  1. Students reflect on and develop a deeper connection to their perspectives of as residents of Wisconsin. (ELS.C1.A)
  2. Students explore and assess the multiple perspectives of various stakeholders in the state of Wisconsin. (ELS.EX3.A)
  3. Students evaluate potential solutions and/or adaptations to impacts of strip mining in Wisconsin. (ELS.EX5.A)
  4. Students investigate and analyze the balance between cultural perceptions of mining and its impacts within the state of Wisconsin. (ELS.EN6.B)

Due dates:

Tuesday, November 10, 2020: Individual summary reports and group Power Point

Thursday, November 12, 2020: Town Hall Meeting presentations

Thursday, November 19, 2020: Individual reflections

Background preparation:

Objective: Learn about the broader issues and concerns of sand mining in Wisconsin.

Gather some general background information on sand mining in Wisconsin. All of what you learn in this exploration will not necessarily be specific to your group, but an overview of concerns and issues that are relevant to all stakeholders.

Go to the following website:

 This is the Wisconsin Geological Survey and Natural History website.

Read through the website to learn more about sand mining in Wisconsin. Take the virtual tour, read the fact sheet, and read about the mining process. There are a number of links at this website; you should check them all out!

Exploration of Stakeholder Perspective in Preparation for the Meeting:

Objective: Explore through research the perspectives of your assigned stakeholder group.

●Each person in class will be assigned to a stakeholder group.

●Research your stakeholders view. You should use the UWL library databases and internet to find sources. Recall that sources must be evaluated for validity. Things to consider in your research:

○What did you learn about the stakeholder?

○What are some specifics of their work? What do they depend on for income?

○Where do they live (eg. City? Residential? Rural?)?

○What are their interests?

○What did you learn about the stakeholder’s perspective? Why might they hold this view? What factors about the stakeholder likely influences this perspective?

●Each person must then generate a short summary report for their group. You will write the report (about 2 pages typed – no more than 2) on the viewpoint of the stakeholders you represent. Submit your report to the Canvas assignment by the start of the meeting on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.  Your report should include the following:

○Overall summary

■A very brief summary of the issue.

○Point of view for your group

■The overall viewpoint of your stakeholder group.

■ Impacts of mining on your group’s interests.

■ Specific actions that can be taken by your group to contribute to the effort to mitigate the impacts.

■ Suggestions for the county board on what actions they should pursue.

■ If your group does not think the impacts are significant enough to take actions, then you should provide evidence and reasoning instead of impacts and suggestions.

○References Cited

Tuesday, November 10, 2020:

●Your groups will meet for 30 minutes using Collaborate Ultra in Canvas during the scheduled synchronous course time. You will use your individual reports to come up with the most important points and key ideas which you will present during the meeting.

●Create a Power Point in Office 325 and share it through the class OneDrive folder. This should include 4-5 slides. You will need to collaborate to produce a well-organized and fact-based presentation. The presentation you prepare should be about 9-10 minutes.

●At the town hall meeting on Thursday, all students in the class are encouraged to ask thoughtful questions regarding the perspective presented. Be prepared to defend your stakeholders’ point of view.

Town Hall Meeting: Thursday, November 12, 2020

Objective: Explain your stakeholder’s perspective, debate other views and provide rebuttals to challenges.

●The entire class will join in on Collaborate Ultra to listen to the stakeholder group presentations and discuss/debate the perspectives presented.

●The professor will select the order of presentations.

●Your stakeholder group will present the Power Point on the concerns, impacts and actions for mitigation of mining. Every member of the group is required to make a contribution to the presentation and also is encouraged to speak.

●Other class members are encouraged to ask challenging questions that delve deeper into the stakeholder perspective. Each group presenting should then defend the stakeholders’ point of view.


Objective: Review and reconsider the perspectives presented and reflect on how they have impacted your own viewpoint.

●Review the presentations for all the groups. These Power Points are available to the class in the shared One Drive folder.

●Write a reflection on what you learned about other points of views and how the presentations influenced your personal perspective. Your reflection should be approximately 2 double-spaced, typed pages.

Submit your reflection to the Canvas assignment by Thursday, November 19, 2020.


This activity is worth 40 points.


Assessment of student performance is based on individual contributions (report, reflection, collaboration with your group) and how well the group makes their case as appropriate for their assigned stakeholder group, the participation of all group members, and the overall clarity of the presentation.

Individual Contributions: (20 points)

(Adapted from Oregon State University Center for Teaching and Learning; WIDPI 

Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability)




3 -Good

2 - Fair

1 – Needs Improvement


Individual Report

Knowledge of stakeholder perspective and clarity of report

Student demonstrates knowledge of stakeholder perspective, uses research to support statements and provide depth of explanation

Student demonstrates some understanding of stakeholder perspective. Statements are supported but lack full explanation.

Perspective is poorly related to the evidence provided.  Statements are only minimally supported.

Student has little understanding of stakeholder perspective. Statements are not supported by evidence.



Sources referenced


Sources are extensive and sound. Student can assess the reliability and validity of the sources. Websites used represent the stakeholder.

Sources are sufficient and sound. Student can assess the reliability and validity of the sources. Websites used are representative

Sources are limited and questionable. Student has difficulty assessing the reliability and validity of the sources. Websites marginally represent the stakeholder

Sources are questionable or poor. Student did not assess the validity of the sources. Websites do not represent the stakeholders.


Individual Reflection

Reflection on other perspective

Student understands different views and explains reasoning behind them. Student integrates perspectives.

Student is aware of different views, understands but cannot fully explain reasoning behind them.

Student is somewhat aware of other perspectives, shows basic understanding. Cannot explain reasoning.

Student restates what other groups presented and/or seriously misunderstands perspective.



Reflection on personal perspective

Student is fully aware of own perspective through evaluating personal mental model. Explains it using evidence and reasoning behind views.

Student is aware of own perspective but explanation lacks depth. Evidence and reasoning are provided but incomplete.

Student is somewhat aware of his/her own thinking, provides a few ideas on reasons underlying perspective.

Student cannot explain position or defends position with unreliable information.


Level of Individual Engagement in the Group Presentation

Contribution to presentation and collaboration with others in group

 Contributed substantially to the group presentation. Was a leader in preparation of the Power Point.

 Contributed a good amount to the presentation, collaborated on the Power Point.

 Some participation and contributions, but not substantial. Provided some feedback on the Power Point.

 Minimal contributions to the presentation. No participation in developing the Power Point.









Group Presentation: (20 points)

(Adapted from Oregon State University Center for Teaching and Learning; WIDPI 

Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability)



3 -Good

2 - Fair

1 – Needs Improvement


Knowledge of perspective presented

Group is comfortable with and can argue  the stakeholder perspective, demonstrates depth of understanding of reasoning behind it.  Group is clearly able to critique the balance of stakeholder interests. Understands the impacts of the perspective on natural and cultural systems.

Group is somewhat comfortable with perspective, can argue the perspective  and understands most of the reasoning behind it. Can critique the stakeholders interest with some limitation. Shows some understanding of the impacts of the perspective.

Group is uncomfortable with perspective and can only present basic information. Important details and supporting evidence are lacking. Provides some information without critique of the interests or the impacts of the perspective on natural and cultural systems..


Group does not show understanding of perspective.  Many statements are incorrect and/or unsupported. Cannot critique or does not understand the potential impacts of the perspective.


Level of engagement and enthusiasm by members

All group members participate in presentation.  Demonstrate strong enthusiasm, persuades class to recognize reasonableness of stakeholder perspective.

Group shows some engagement and enthusiasm with the perspective and provides class with pertinent information.

Little engagement. Group members show limited enthusiasm for the stakeholders perspective.

Group members are unenthusiastic, do not engage with the class, show minimal to no interest in the stakeholders.


Organization and flow of presentation

Presentation is very well organized, has a logical flow and focus. Content is logically ordered and complete.

Presentation is well organized, has a good flow but some content is misplaced or missing.

Presentation organization is inconsistent, some content is missing, focus is not clear.

Presentation lacks focus, is disorganized and incoherent. Content is presented in a haphazard manner.




Language use is precise and appropriate, correct grammar. No use of slang or inappropriate words.

Language use is mostly precise, some minor inappropriate slang/terms, grammar is mostly correct.

Language use is acceptable but unclear at times, increasing use of slang, some grammatical errors.

Very poor language use, unacceptable words or slang, substantial grammatical errors.




Group demonstrates knowledge by fully answering questions.  Group can analyze and evaluate the responsibility of the perspective for impacts on nature and community.

Comfortable with expected questions, but answer with minimal explanation. Group can analyze and evaluate some responsibility of the perspective for impacts on nature and community.

Are uncomfortable with questions. Can only provide basic answers. Group demonstrates very limited efforts to analyze and evaluate responsibility of the perspective for impacts on nature and community.

Cannot answer questions about the perspective presented. Do not provide clarifications.

Group does not analyze and evaluate responsibility of the perspective for impacts on nature and community.









  1. Instructors of all sections will review the activity and class dates before the semester begins. These will need determined on before syllabus development, and coordinated among instructors so they are on the same schedule.
  2. Some students may not be efficient in finding sources. Solutions to this include:  (a) Scheduling the guided library resource “tour” for the class. This is offered by a librarian at the UWL library, with explanations of databases available, search engines, and how to find references. (b) Possible suggested sources of reference can be determined by faculty, and provided to students if needed. (c) Collaborations among students assigned to a specific stakeholder group to find resources. Collaborate Ultra in Canvas could be set up for small group work ahead of the scheduled synchronous class times.
  1. Set up of Collaborate Ultra in advance by instructor and assignment of students into groups.
  2. Instructor monitoring of groups during their scheduled collaboration time.
  3. Set up of Collaborate Ultra for the entire class for the Town Hall Meeting.
  4. All instructors can participate in different class Town Hall Meeting, as available.
  5. Assessment of student performance


Following the activity, a Qualtrics survey will be sent to students with simple rating questions about their experience with the activity.

All instructors will meet to evaluate the survey results, their experience with students specific to the activity, and  successes and failures. Some questions to consider for discussion:

  1. Did all students understand what they needed to do?
  2. Did students have trouble finding resources/references? Did they need more guidance in defining the stakeholders they were assigned? Were students unable to find good references? Do students not understand how to search for references?
  3. Did any students fail to work with their group? Did any students dominate the group preparation and/or presentation? What is our understanding of reasons for these?
  4. How successful was the actual Town Hall Meeting? Were presentations well done? Poor? Were there any concerns among the students?
  5. Were any students, or groups, overly forceful, rude or display inappropriate behavior or language? Did they fail to observe the “rules of netiquette?”
  6. What went well? What went poorly?
  7. What revisions do we need to make?

Following discussion and evaluation, instructors will modify the activity as needed.


Beetles Project, The Learning Cycle Explained, Teaching and Learning: Handout,  Retrieved June 22, 2020 from

OSUCTL, 2014. Oral Presentation Rubric, Workshop Handout, Center for Teaching and Learning, Oregon State University. Similar available at:

OSUCTL, 2014. Reflective Essay Rubric, Workshop Hanout, Center for Teaching and Learning, Oregon State University.  Similar available at:

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2018. Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability, 37pp.

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