Co-hosted by the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education, this year’s North American Association for Environmental Education Conference and Research Symposium will be a week filled not only with sessions about all aspects of environmental education (EE) but also with one-of-a-kind outdoor adventures and field trips; engaging networking events; and, of course, ample opportunities for us to show our out-of-state attendees how Kentucky celebrates both horses and bourbon. The conference and research symposium, held in Lexington from October 15-19, will center around the idea of “education for a just and sustainable future,” with key themes that include “building leadership for environmental literacy,” “connecting with nature,” “conservation and environmental education,” “educating for sustainable communities,” “Green Schools and preparing for 21st Century careers,” and “linking research and practice to increase impact.” And because there may be no better month than October to show off Kentucky’s beauty, optional outdoor field trips will be offered at sites all around the state, incorporating EE and Kentucky highlights into the week. During a visit to Berea College, attendees can hike, learn about horse logging, tour the college’s farm and Ecovillage, and watch local artisans at work. On the Kentucky River Palisades, visitors can join the Lexington Parks and Recreation Natural Areas staff for a canoeing outing and guided tour through the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. And at the Arboretum, a 100-acre green space on the University of Kentucky campus, participants can visit the Children’s Garden and Home Demonstration Garden and then FoodChain, a nonprofit dedicated to sustainable food systems. There, the group will tour the commercial-scale indoor aquaponics farm (which grows tilapia and greens) and the Teaching and Processing Kitchen, which provides cooking classes for youth and families. As earlier stated, no conference in Kentucky would be complete without the addition of horses and bourbon. On Friday evening, October 18, attendees (and guests who would like to join!) are invited to the “Kentucky Bourbon & Blues Celebration and Live Auction,” an evening of Kentucky-influenced hors d’oeuvres and bourbon, a create-your-own-derby-hat station, and live music from a local band. Attendees are also invited to take part in the annual William B. Stapp Commemorative Auction, which helps raise funds for NAAEE scholarships and professional learning opportunities. The conference’s keynote addresses will be presented by John Flicker and Mona Chalabi. Dr. Flicker, President of Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona, was president of the National Audubon Society in New York City for 15 years. During his tenure at Audubon, he was best known for creating a network of more than 40 Audubon Nature Centers in communities across the country, many located in low-income urban areas. Dr. Flicker also led Audubon’s efforts to protect critical habitat from the Everglades to the Arctic National Refuge. Ms. Chalabi is the Data Editor of The Guardian, where she writes articles, produces documentaries, and illustrates (as well as animates) data. She is also a data journalist for NPR. Everyone is invited to join us at the conference, where we will discuss the many ways education is helping to create a more just and sustainable future for all. Throughout the week, sessions will focus on the three interwoven pillars of sustainability—social equity, shared prosperity, and environmental integrity— as well as how education can build hope, motivate action, and help achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals championed by the United Nations and leaders in more than 170 countries. In addition, the conference will highlight efforts to ensure that everyone, everywhere, has access to nature and high quality environmental education. Come share ideas and explore ways to create a more sustainable future through the great power of environmental education. There’s still time to receive the early bird rate—the deadline for early bird registration is August 23. To learn more and register to attend, visit the NAAEE conference webpage.
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