EXPLORING THE DIVERSITY AND WONDER OF AN ECOSYSTEM THROUGH NEW EE CREDENTIALS COURSE: APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN ECOLOGY
I recently had the opportunity to delve into one of KAEE’s newest Professional Learning Leader eeCredential elective course offerings, Appalachian Mountain Ecology. This course was designed by EKU professor emerita Dr. Melinda Wilder to provide educators with the knowledge of ecological principles within an Appalachian Mountain context. I can attest to the fact that it did just that and more! Along with providing a solid overview of ecological principles based on this particular ecosystem, it also introduced me to some really interesting regional organisms in a fresh context. The following highlights are just a small sampling of some of the topography, plants, and animals I got to know through this course and the companion text: Hollows, Peepers, & Highlanders: An Appalachian Mountain Ecology by George Constantz.
A Region with Deep History
Did you know? The early Appalachian mountains rose as the first primitive fishes appeared on Earth over 500 million years ago. Appalachia existed for 200 million years before terrestrial organisms evolved to occupy it.
Did you know? Unfortunately for the bees that pollinate lady’s slipper plants, their visit to these flowers does not prove productive for the insect itself. The bees are in search of pollen or nectar and end up finding neither. They are tricked into the trap of the flower sack and leave pollen grains from a previously visited flower and pick up pollen from the anther, but get nothing in return before exiting the flower.
Color Changing Copperheads
Did you know? Juvenile copperheads display tail tips of bright yellow or yellowish-green to lure small frogs, but as they grow, their tail changes color to reds and tans to lure rodents.
Lady Knows What She Wants
Did you know? As an integral part of the mating ritual, male hangflies will present females with a meal of caught prey for her to inspect and if acceptable, eat. This “gift” of prey is a precursor for copulation.
Darter Daddy Daycare
Did you know? Dominant male darter fish can essentially abandon their offspring because other floating males are readily available to “egg sit.” Both males benefit from this process. Dominant males gain freedom to continue to reproduce elsewhere and floating males gain a safe (and highly sought after) rock under which to reproduce.
Appalachian Mountain Ecology encouraged me to flesh out my understanding of several ecological principles while providing an introduction to many specific species in a region that I care deeply about. The course feels more like a walk with a seasoned naturalist than a curriculum requirement. If you are keen on discovery and finding connections within a regional context, this course is for you!
By Katherine Bullock
Kentucky Association for Environmental Education facilitators create a powerful network of educators who not only offer environmental education training to their communities but also help propel environmental literacy across Kentucky. The network is made up of educators from all walks of life; you can find KAEE facilitators in elementary classrooms, at nature centers and state parks, in universities, in the state government, and more.
To make the process of becoming a facilitator more accessible and inclusive, especially to those living in far reaches of Kentucky who may not have access to paid time off, flexible scheduling, or travel budgets for multi-day workshops, KAEE is currently developing a Professional Learning Leader eeCredential. Designed to build the capacity of its participants to host high-quality environmental education workshops, the eeCredential includes five courses and the culminating project of co-facilitating a curriculum educator workshop.
As a train-the-trainer learning program, the Professional Learning Leader eeCredential will enable participants, upon completion of the set of courses, to become facilitators and themselves lead workshops across the state. The training, offered online, will include a mix of videos, webinars, and assignments and will include a number of interactive elements to engage participants. The capstone piece allows participants to co-facilitate a workshop with a trained facilitator who can assess their facilitation skills.
“Our facilitators and educators are the ‘boots on the ground,’ working directly with their various audiences to advance environmental knowledge in Kentucky,” says KAEE Executive Director Ashley Hoffman. “Our goal is to support those efforts by providing them with easily-accessible professional learning opportunities designed to help them in their work.”
Courses in this eeCredential center around the Next Generation Science Standards and include
Because this eeCredential is a robust professional learning experience with a significant time commitment, and due to the pandemic and our inability to meet in person, we currently require that participants have previously attended at least one environmental education training or workshop. However, anyone interested in taking a single course or set of courses rather than the full eeCredential is invited to do so (check out the available courses here)!
Participants will receive a badge for each course completed, and those who complete the entire eeCredential will also receive a certificate of completion and a certificate for becoming a certified KAEE Facilitator.
To see the course plans and cost breakdowns, please visit the Professional Learning Leaders eeCredential webpage. (Spoiler alert--KAEE members get a big discount!)
The registration window for this pilot launch is June 22-July 3. Participants will be notified of acceptance no later than July 6 (and sooner if possible), and the Participant Orientation Webinar will be held on July 7. Coursework, which is asynchronous following the orientation, will begin on July 8.
Knowing that the rural nature of our state has for numerous years been a barrier for many educators to attend professional learning programs—especially those more robust programs that take longer than one day—we, in partnership with several fellow North American Association for Environmental Education State Affiliates and other experienced consultants, have been developing a growing list of eeCredentials--online trainings that include a mix of videos, webinars, and assignments, as well as interactive elements to engage participants.
Each eeCredential will focus on a single subject and will be made up of five courses, equivalent to a three credit hour college course. Courses can be mixed and matched to earn difference eeCredentials and can also meet requirements for continuing education for Professional Environmental Educators.
Stay tuned for next week's announcement about our first eeCredential's registration period!
Adopted in July 2019, the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education’s new Strategic Plan includes five goals, one of which centers around cultivating collective impact and bringing people together to create a stronger and more inclusive movement. With this goal in mind, and looking to our fellow NAAEE Affiliate friends for best practices in information dissemination, we share here a collection of equity and inclusion resources—from articles to videos to recommended books to podcasts to experts—with our members, donors, and the wider community.
Like our work in advancing environmental knowledge around the state, this is work that is ever-changing and growing. We would love to hear from you as we build this collection of resources; please let us know if you have suggested readings, videos, podcasts, and more to add to these pages.
Our hearts are heavy as we search for the right words to express our support for and solidarity with our colleagues of color during these overwhelmingly troubling times. For more than 40 years, KAEE has worked to encourage people to connect with the outdoors. But when a black man cannot go birding without being reported to the police or facing other racist encounters, we know our work is far from done. Until all people can feel—and actually are—safe enough to enjoy outdoor spaces without unwarranted suspicion, confrontation, and violence, we still have a great deal of work to do.
In our field, we ask people to see all sides of an issue in order to make informed decisions. There are, however, not two sides to injustice. It is wrong. It is hurtful. It is offensive. And it merits our attention and action.
One of KAEE’s strategic plan goals centers around bringing people together to create a stronger and more inclusive environmental education movement. As one step toward meeting this goal, KAEE has compiled a collection of equity and inclusion resources—from articles to videos, recommended books and podcasts to expert voices—that can help you on your own journey toward understanding and pursuing racial equity. Like our work in advancing environmental knowledge around the state, this is work that is ever-changing and growing, and it may be the most important thing we, each and every one of us, can do. We would love to hear from you as we continue to build this collection of resources; please let us know if you have suggested readings, videos, podcasts, and more to add to these pages.
In the days and weeks ahead, we will be listening to leaders, both in our own field and in organizations across the spectrum, who are speaking up against injustice and inequality. We will be listening to our audience, and we will be actively paying attention and seeking ways to help as current events unfold in our communities and communities across the country. We challenge you to do the same, to listen, learn, speak up, and speak out about the injustices taking place. We encourage you to be part of the dialog and action to bring about justice and equity for all. The board and staff of KAEE unequivocally condemn racist behavior, and we are committed to refocusing our efforts toward safe, equal access to the outdoors for all.
Ashley Hoffman, Executive Director
Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez, Board Chair
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.