Anna Wiker has been named the M.K. Dickerson Outstanding Educator of the Year for Excellence in EE. Currently Park Naturalist for the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, Anna 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 Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez, Superintendent of Natural Areas for Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
Anna is passionate about all things environmental but especially pollinators of all kinds. For years, she has dedicated herself to enhancing and maintaining a pollinator garden at Raven Run for use in both environmental education and interpretive programs. Anna has dedicated herself to planning new and improved pollinator programming at Raven Run, including
More Than Monarchs: Milkweed Insects: A children’s program that teaches about insect identification, life cycles, and other cool facts, with a focus on the insects and other creatures that depend on Raven Run’s Monarch Waystation for a home.
Incredible Journey: Monarch Tagging: An opportunity for visitors to learn about Monarch Waystations, milkweed, how scientists track butterfly migration, and to participate in tagging a real-life monarch butterfly.
Make Your Own Monarch Waystation Field Guide: A children’s program where participants select a single organism from our Monarch Waystation—either milkweed, a food source flower, an insect, or other organism, the draws or writes a field guide page about it. At the end, the group has created a personalized field guide to the diverse ecosystem of a milkweed stand.
"I was lucky to grow up being able to engage with the outdoors from a young age, and my love of nature has shaped everything from what I do with my free time, to my career choices, to where I live," Anna says. "I believe everyone deserves to have access to outdoor spaces, and that a relationship with and understanding of the natural world is an essential part of being a human. Being in a position where I can help facilitate that relationship and understanding is an incredible experience. I feel very fortunate to work in the field of environmental education, and I can’t wait for what the future holds!"
In the spring of 2019, Anna applied for and received a grant from the Anne L. Stamm Avian Education Fund to create a binocular lending program for park users so that hikers, young and old, can go out and enjoy the forest and pollinators up close.
"Anna is one of those individuals who does not look for recognition or reward," Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez says. "She is a busy bee. She does her work with her whole heart and truly is one of the best among the best in Kentucky environmental education."