2020 marks ten years since Vivian Bowles became a member of KAEE, though she has been an EE enthusiastic for so much longer. Since then, she has told numerous groups—from PEEC students to her fellow Board of Director members to workshop participants—that when she attended her first KAEE conference a decade ago, she knew she had “found her tribe.”
Her tribe has certainly benefited from that relationship, and perhaps never more so than this year, when Vivian unhesitatingly agreed to team up with Brittany Wray and Melinda Wilder to correlate more than one hundred Project Learning Tree and Project WILD activities to the NGSS. This year, she also stepped in as KAEE’s treasurer, and she continued her role as an instructor for two Professional Environmental Educator Certification workshops.
“Vivian has been an invaluable part of what we do at KEEC,” says Wesley Bullock, environmental education specialist at the Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC). “She was named Teacher of the Year for our Kentucky Green & Healthy Schools program in 2016 for her outstanding work with Kit Carson Elementary students. She has gone from graduate of the Professional Environmental Educator Certification program to our newest instructor. And she was integral to the revisions of the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Plan. We appreciate her so much, and we are so glad she is being celebrated with this award!”
Vivian herself is not only a certified Kentucky Professional Environmental Educator but reached “Master Environmental Educator” status last year. She is also a trained “Projects” facilitator and frequently leads workshops in Projects WET, WILD, and Learning Tree. After her retirement from Madison County Schools, she was recruited to do STEM enrichment with first- and second-grade students and their teachers on a part-time basis and has developed and teaches NGSS-style units of study at Kit Carson Elementary.
In 2014, Vivian was named the Elementary Science Teacher of the Year by the Kentucky Science Teachers Association, and two years later, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The next year, she received our own M.K. Dickerson Outstanding Educator Award.
“Vivian has always been a supporter and practitioner of environments education,” says Billy Bennett, executive director. “She is an invaluable resource for students of all ages in the Commonwealth.”
Anyone who has been fortunate enough to attend one of her workshops or sit on a board with her knows that Vivian is also one of the warmest, most caring, and most enthusiastic educators out there. She motivates others to listen, to watch, to think, to read, and to teach. She found “her people” ten years ago, she says, at a KAEE conference, and at that conference, “her people” gained an EE leader, an EE champion, and an EE all-star.
Maddy Heredia, the first full-time environmental educator in the 40-year history of Kentucky Nature Preserves, has been named the recipient of Kentucky Association for Environmental Education’s 2020 Excellence in EE Rising Star Award.
In her first year at Kentucky Nature Preserves, Maddy initiated new partnerships with natural areas throughout the state for field trips, oversaw new citizen science projects, expanded the organization’s social media presence, created interpretive signage, and developed KNP's Kentucky Nature Summit, the largest multi-agency EE event in the agency’s history.
“I feel that now more than ever, it is crucial to educate the public on our natural resources and the threat of losing them in the near future,” Maddy says. “By exposing more and more people to breathtaking views, interesting plants and animals, and conservation work, I hope to instill a new appreciation of the environment and sense of responsibility to take care of it.”
She says an especially rewarding aspect of her work is interacting with children in school groups, summer camps, and underserved communities, offering them experience they might not have been exposed to otherwise.
“I grew up in Chicago in a very urban environment,” she says, “and I credit a lot of my passion for conservation to key people in my life that gave me experiences in the outdoors at a very young age. For me, it is so amazing to hear a child tell you that they want to be a herpetologist when they grow up, after I’ve showed them a salamander for the first time.”
Zeb Weese, Kentucky Nature Preserves' Executive Director, says Maddy continually completes her work “with a smile and positive attitude. She is an incredible ambassador for Kentucky's biodiversity and natural areas.”
West Kentucky Community and Technical College named Outstanding Community Partner for Excellence in EE
West Kentucky Community and Technical College, demonstrably committed to environmental education, has been named the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education's 2020 Outstanding Community Partner for Excellence in EE.
Education is a major component of the college’s 2020-2025 sustainability plan, and WKCTC and Murray State University recently developed an Earth and Environmental Sciences Sustainability and Environmental Science Pathway for WKCTC students interested in environmental sciences wanting to transfer to MSU. Biology courses and the required First Year Experience course (FYE) modules have environmental learning outcomes. FYE students do career exploration using Story Maps, and stream sampling field work is conducted in ecology lab.
WKCTC is working to obtain Arbor Foundation Tree Campus, USA designation, which requires tree education and service learning. Biology 120 (Human Ecology) students are identifying and mapping trees on the college’s campus, and the Campus Nature Trail revitalization, a project initiated by students, will connect WKCTC’s east and west sides and will include signage.
The college also hosts an Environmental Education Leadership Corps member, who provides environmental education across WKCTC and surrounding communities, guides local activities, and establishes relationships with internal and community groups. In 2020-21, the EEL Corps member will develop online environmental and sustainable development learning opportunities.
Other examples of WKCTC’s environmental education commitment focus on faculty, staff, and the community. Faculty and staff EE opportunities include a Green Office pilot; professional development opportunities such as climate literacy workshops and the "Greening the Campus and Health" walking and idea generation session; and an intranet site to communicate and develop projects remotely.
We are delighted to announce the winners of KAEE's 2020 Excellence in EE Awards! Check back throughout September for stories about each of the awardees.
VIVIAN BOWLES, LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Vivian Bowles often tells the story of how, when attending her first KAEE conference a decade ago, she knew she had “found her tribe.” Anyone who has been fortunate enough to attend one of her workshops or sit on a board with her knows that Vivian is one of the warmest, most caring, and most enthusiastic educators out there. She motivates others to listen, to watch, to think, to read, and to teach. She found “her people” ten years ago, she says, at a KAEE conference, and at that conference, “her people” gained an EE leader, an EE champion, and an EE all-star.
ANNA WIKER, M.K. DICKERSON AWARD
Anna Wiker, Park Naturalist for the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, has worked for Lexington Parks and Recreation since 2013, and prior to that was an environmental educator for a 4-H camp through the KY Cooperative Extension service. At Raven Run, Anna’s role is to oversee all aspects of programming; lead environmental and cultural history programs; develop educational displays; provide customer service for park visitors; manage and restore habitat (including invasive/exotic species removal), and more. "In all her duties, she goes above-and-beyond and is well-known among park users as a friendly and knowledgeable resource who can speak on diverse environmental topics with ease and confidence," says Raven Run Recreation Manager Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez.
MADELINE HEREDIA, RISING STAR AWARD
Maddy Heredia, the first full-time environmental educator in the forty-year history of Kentucky Nature Preserves, in her first year initiated new partnerships with natural areas throughout the state for field trips, oversaw new citizen science projects, expanded the organization's social media presence, developed interpretive signage, and developed KNP's Kentucky Nature Summit, the largest multi-agency EE event in the agency’s history. "Maddy does all this with a smile and positive attitude," says Zeb Weese, Kentucky Nature Preserves' Executive Director, "and is an incredible ambassador for Kentucky's biodiversity and natural areas.”
RICHARDSVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, OUTSTANDING PREK-12 SCHOOL
Richardsville Elementary School in Warren County, Kentucky, enables students to learn about energy on a daily basis through features including a "geothermal hallway," a "solar hallway," a "water conservation hallway," an interactive mural explaining how water is used throughout the county, and a "recycling hallway." "At Richardsville Elementary, the administration and the teachers see the school as a building that teaches, and focuses on, sustainability," says retired Western Kentucky University professor Terry Wilson.
WEST KENTUCKY COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL COLLEGE, OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY PARTNER
West Kentucky Community and Technical College is demonstrably committed to environmental education and revised its mission statement to include sustainability and environmental education. The college hosts a Kentucky Environmental Education Council Environmental Education Leadership Corps AmeriCorps member; recently developed with Murray State University an Earth and Environmental Sciences Sustainability and Environmental Science Pathways for WKCTC students interested in environmental sciences wanting to transfer to MSU; features biology courses and required First Year Experience course (FYE) modules that include environmental learning outcomes; is working to obtain Arbor Foundation Tree Campus, USA designation, which requires tree education and service learning; offers professional development opportunities like climate literacy workshops and a Greening the Campus and Health walking and idea generation session; and so much more.
SERVICE ONE CREDIT UNION, OUTSTANDING BUSINESS
The headquarters of the Service One Credit Union in Bowling Green is highly energy efficient; a few of the most innovative features of the Campbell Lane Branch include a living “Green Roof System” for added roof insulation, a Bioretention Basin that controls stormwater runoff, reclaimed wood timbers from a historic mill which eliminated the need for a sprinkler system, and the first commercially-installed Nanogel-insulated windows.
In 1990, H.R. Hungerford wrote that “creating an environmental commitment must go beyond awareness and knowledge. Environmental commitment is built by providing students with a sense of ownership and empowerment so that they are fully invested in an environmental sense and prompted to become responsible, active citizens.”
Building widespread environmental commitment, however, takes time, expertise, and coordination. And this year, the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education is dedicating that time, expertise, and coordination to play a key role in the development of a brand new undertaking—a landscape analysis of environmental education efforts in eight southeastern states.
Funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Pisces Foundation, the project will include a comprehensive study of the environmental education already happening on the ground, enabling the states involved to identify gaps and barriers to access that prevent successful implementation in some areas. The final report will also provide recommendations and next steps for increasing environmental literacy efforts in the southeast based on an inventory of model programs and initiatives happening nationwide.
This analysis and tailored state recommendations included in the report will equip organizations conducting environmental and conservation-related work in the southeast with the materials they need to address gaps, allocate resources more effectively, and, ultimately, meet the goal of increasing environmental literacy levels and stewardship behaviors.
KAEE Executive Director Ashley Hoffman, along with a strategy consultant and a state coordinator from each of the state environmental education associations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, will lead the project.
“Although there are numerous organizations providing high-quality EE programs across the southeast, most of these are operating independently of one another, and little is being done to harness the collective impact of these programs to create large-scale change in each state or throughout the region,” Hoffman says. “This initiative will allow us to see the current landscape of environmental education in the southeast and help us to focus on larger-scale, capacity building initiatives that extend our impact beyond the local community.”
Upon conclusion of the analysis, the project leadership team will use the findings to begin strategic conversations determining next steps for initiating the development of a state-level strategy for each state. While the team will implement recommendations, they recognize that the next steps will be ongoing and include numerous stakeholders. With this in mind, the team will work throughout the project with key stakeholders and state environmental education associations to design the landscape analysis and report in a way that ensures it will be a tool that meets the various needs of all involved.
The final report will serve as the first step to strengthen and improve the informal EE community to be able to deliver high-quality programs to students and conduct teacher trainings. The tool will also provide recommendations to systemically infuse environmental principles and concepts in formal school curricula that will aid in increasing and integrating EE into formal education systems.
Through stakeholder use of this report, educators in the eight states will have the tools to increase the number of students receiving high quality environmental education and broadening the competency of those students to demonstrate improved environmental literacy and age-appropriate stewardship behaviors.
“We are excited to embark on this work,” Hoffman says. “To have the capacity and funding to bring together and connect the hundreds of organizations doing environmental literacy work across the southeast is a huge opportunity to grow the environmental education movement.”
At this year’s annual conference we will be celebrating 44 years of excellence in environmental education. While environmental education may look a little different in 2020, our role as educators is more vital than ever. This year’s conference attendees will enjoy recorded sessions that can be watched anytime; opportunities to incorporate creative technology into sessions; reduced registration costs; virtual meetups for special interest groups; regional outdoor activities tied to conference themes; a virtual happy hour; and more.
This year's theme is "Community Engagement: Building Sustainable Communities through the Power of Environmental Education." Session topics include everything from "FUNdamentals" of EE to social justice and equity in EE to "cooking wild." There is something (way more than just one something) for everyone!
The keynote address, by Greenlining's Leslie Aguayo, will focus on the intersection of racial equity and environmental issues (and why these are inseparable). Other highlights include a North American Association for Environmental Education Community Engagement Guidelines for Excellence training and a plenary session led by Cagney Coomer.
Check out all the details on the conference webpage!
One of the five primary goals of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education’s Strategic Plan, adopted in July of 2019, is “Cultivating Collective Impact,” bringing people together to create a stronger and more inclusive movement. For KAEE, this means not only building stronger relationships and partnerships with organizations representing audiences and sectors not currently engaged with KAEE and striving continually to reach the communities that represent underserved audiences in Kentucky but also to transform KAEE into a more diverse and inclusive organization with increased cultural competency levels for the board, staff, and members, as well as more inclusive policies and practices.
To assist us in meeting those desired outcomes, KAEE has received a Center for Diversity & the Environment grant to host a robust, weeklong Build the Foundation workshop for our board of directors, allowing them to immerse themselves in issues and best practices in equity, inclusion, and diversity.
Formed from the belief that everyone has a place in the environmental movement, the Center for Diversity & the Environment works to “build bridges between communities of color and the environmental community, fostering a fundamental revolution of the environmental movement–into an equitable, inclusive, and diverse coalition of people at work on a wide array of environmental issues.”
The Build the Foundation workshop will be an important step in KAEE’s plan to reevaluate our internal culture and policies and weave equity and inclusion throughout our strategic plan.
“We want to create an environment where all Kentuckians feel welcome and encouraged to engage in the work of environmental education,” says Ashley Hoffman, KAEE Executive Director. “Our role as a backbone organization is to support the ‘boots on the ground’ who are actively doing environmental education each day, and we hope to reach organizations who do not know about our work so we can support them in theirs.”
Hoffman says that “we hope, and plan, to not simply invite all communities and organizations to ‘our table’ but to go to theirs, to find innovative and useful ways to get to know them and to help them reach their own goals.”
This story is part of our KAEE Strategic Plan Series.
Kentucky Association for Environmental Education board of directors member Rae McEntyre has been appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Education Advisory Council! During her one-year appointment, McEntyre will serve as a special government employee and will provide independent advice based on her expertise in planning, developing, and implementing science-based education programs.
The National Environmental Education Advisory Council provides advice and counsel on the implementation of the National Environmental Education Act of 1990. It is organized under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which regulates and governs its operation, including public participation and access to documents.
McEntyre, Kentucky Department of Education science consultant, is a Certified Professional Environmental Educator and serves on several KAEE board of directors sub-committees. She has more than 30 years of experience as a science educator, which includes 20 years in the classroom. We are thrilled that she will now be able to share her outstanding EE expertise on a national level as well!
“ZOOM INTO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION" WITH DREW LANHAM AND THE SOUTHEASTERN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION ALLIANCE
"Connecting the conservation dots” is Drew Lanham’s research mission, something that in the past “focused on the impacts of forest management and other human activities on songbirds, herpetofauna, small mammals, and butterflies,” he shares, and now centers more on “how ethnicity (especially Black Americans) relates to wildlife and other conservation issues.”
Dr. Lanham, internationally renowned and respected professor, author, poet, birder, and hunter, will deliver the keynote address of this fall’s exciting Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance virtual conference, hosted by the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina and held Sept. 24 and 25. Mark your calendars and get ready to “Zoom into Environmental Education!”
For just $25, conference attendees will enjoy a Research Symposium featuring the work of scholars from across the southeast and a selection of General Conference Sessions on topics ranging from "Public Reception of Climate News Media" to "Improving Evaluation in EE." The event will also include virtual trivia hosted by Allie Sorlie of the University of Alabama's Museum of Natural History.
Conference sessions will be recorded and will be available for conference registrants to view after the event.
Conference Sponsors include Duke Energy, Moore Farms Botanical Gardens, SC Association of Conservation Districts, SC Department of Natural Resources, Sonoco Recycling, Columbia Fireflies, Columbia Water, Florence County Museum, The Greenhouse Company, Roper Mountain Science Center, Dominion Energy, Lake Conestee Nature Park, SC State Museum, Champions of the Environment, Joye Law Firm, Prioleau Insurance Services, SC Farm to School, and the SC Energy Office.
Learn more and register here.
At the July 10 meeting of the KAEE Board of Directors, the board passed two motions to update the membership model and benefits for KAEE members. And we couldn’t be more excited about them!
The new model simplifies our previous model and reduces the number of organizational member levels. It also adds new benefits, including more significant discounts, to individuals and organizational members.
Under the new model, individual membership is still available on the student level (with dues being $25 annually) and general level (with dues of $50 annually). New benefits to the individual general level include a 20% discount on KAEE conference registration, significant discounts for participation in our eeCredentials or individual courses, and (when we are able to host them safely!) an increased number of all-member and regional member meet-ups.
For organizations wishing to become members, two levels are now available. One level, with dues of $250 annually, offers one free conference registration and up to two members listed in the member directory and who are able to receive discounts on conference, eeCredentials and other member offerings. A $500 organizational membership level is also available, which offers two free conference registrations and an unlimited number of members listed in the directory and able to receive member discounts for conference, eeCredentials, and other offerings.
Several membership benefits will stay the same under the new model, including national and state recognition, exclusive networking opportunities, voting rights within KAEE, merchandise discounts, publicity through stories written and shared by KAEE, and coaching and consulting services.
And, of course, membership in KAEE connects you with fellow environmental education practitioners and enthusiasts from all over the state, giving you the chance to learn from, support, and be an integral part of the movement to advance environmental knowledge across Kentucky and beyond.
To learn more about becoming a KAEE member, visit our Member Center!
KAEE is one of the country’s oldest associations supporting environmental education. We are people from all walks of life, coming together to support EE.