ANNOUNCING THE 2021 KAEE EXCELLENCE IN EE AWARD WINNERS



Jane Eller, Lifetime Achievement Award

Jane Eller has a rich history of excellence and leadership in the field of environmental education. She served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC) from 1994 to 2010 and is responsible for steering the organization’s early efforts to strengthen environmental education in the commonwealth. She initiated many important programs that continue to exist and thrive today. During Eller’s watch, KEEC put into place many new initiatives including the development of the state’s Environmental Education Master Plan and Environmental Literacy Survey, the Green and Healthy Schools initiative, Kentucky’s Environmental Literacy Plan, and the Professional Environmental Educator Certification (PEEC) course. Read more by clicking here.


Natasha Parsons, M.K. Dickerson Outstanding Educator Award

Natasha Parsons is known in her community to have single-handedly brought environmental education to Garrard Middle School where she uses agriculture and livestock to teach her 8th grade science classes. Thanks to her efforts, the school is creating an environmental science class to meet the demand from students for this type of class. Natasha has a way of making environmental education fun for every student whether they have grown up on a farm or if they’ve never lived in a home with a yard. Her students speak so highly of her and will even come in voluntarily to work in the school's greenhouse. She is the hidden gem of Garrard Middle School! Read more by clicking here.


Erin Kinntez, Rising Star in EE Award

Erin Kinnetz has been the Education Specialist at The Parklands of Floyds Fork in Louisville for the past four years. In that time Erin has greatly elevated the scientific content presented during school field trips, outreach programs, and adult education programs there. From pivoting in-person programming to virtual programs to developing vital programs like Forest Learning Lab, Erin has succeeded at adapting to the needs of her students and the current climate of environmental education. TheForest Learning Lab program she developed invited students to come to The Parklands each day, and with the help of staff educators, were able to complete their NTI curriculum while also getting time to hike, creek walk, and explore nature. Because of Erin's hard work and dedication to the field of EE, The Parklands has actually been able to grow their programming - even during a pandemic. Read more by clicking here.


Red Oaks Forest School, Outstanding PreK-12 School Award

Red Oaks Forest School has been bringing environmental education to Kentucky since 2014 with a variety of programs that serve both children and adults. In the past year, we have continued to pursue our goal of fostering a deep and lasting connection with the natural world through exploration and education for our participants. Red Oaks is a place where connections to nature are formed and deepened, where learning happens in a play-based model, and where ecological lessons are offered at an age-appropriate level. Read more by clicking here.


Floracliff Nature Sanctuary, Outstanding Community Partner Award

Floracliff Nature Sanctuary is a 346-acre nonprofit nature preserve located in the Kentucky River Palisades region. The sanctuary has demonstrated outstanding long-term service and leadership in environmental education and land stewardship through regularly scheduled education programs, partnerships and dedication to documenting the biodiversity of the preserve. Even when faced with the adversity of a global pandemic, Beverly and Josie of Floracliff were able to connect with the community through several virtual environmental programs including, educational webinars and through a city wide community science nature challenge. Read more by clicking here.


Nature Reliance School, Outstanding Business Partner Award

Nature Reliance School (NRS) provides environmental and outdoor education opportunities to youth and adults through hands-on learning opportunities, lectures, on-line directed classes, blogs and literature. NRS continues to influence environmental education by encouraging safe engagement with the outdoors and natural resource education and management strategies. The uniqueness of their approach and the skills developed by their students provide an individualistic development of appreciation, understanding, and self-awareness of the importance of our environment. Read more by clicking here.