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KAEE Member Feature: Barb Cornett

Many EE folks know Barb Cornett from her time with the Life Adventure Center (LAC) and Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary in central Kentucky. In 2019, Barb took the position of Environmental Educator at Canoe Kentucky (CKY) in Frankfort.

Canoe Kentucky is a premier retail paddle sport shop which includes canoes, kayaks, SUP boards, paddles, PFDs and all types of gear to enhance your paddling experience. CKY offers paddle sport rentals at Peaks Mill and the Kentucky River location in downtown Frankfort. CKY’s mission is to provide family friendly, outdoor opportunities in an experiential and educational manner. CKY strives to offer experiences that provide respite and clarity and help people connect with the natural world.

KAEE: What is your current role in the field of Environmental Education?

Barb: As CKY’s environmental educator, I wear many hats. I continue to wear my land-based experiential environmental education hat even in my new role with Canoe Kentucky. I utilize several area parks and outdoor spaces to engage students and adults in outdoor learning opportunities. I also continue to provide environmental education field trips for Buckley Wildlife Sanctuary in Woodford County and it is my pleasure to continue volunteering there hosting school groups and helping to maintain program areas.

CKY is a water-based business, so I am polishing my paddling skills so I can share my love of the water with children, youth, and adults. In my role as Environmental Educator, I lead paddling trips on North Elkhorn Creek and the Kentucky River. We offer environmental education experiences which include EE activities built into our day tailored to each specific group. When I am serving as a group’s guide, we learn all about the beautiful Elkhorn Creek and its inhabitants as we share our time on the water. CKY connects with area groups to host Elkhorn Creek and Kentucky River clean up days and it is my pleasure to assist with these projects as well.

I also recently became affiliated with the Woods and Water Land Trust (WWLT) non-profit organization. Its purpose is to provide and protect areas of the Lower Kentucky River watershed to encourage scenic landscapes, land conservation and excellent natural habitats now and for generations to come. There are opportunities to volunteer to maintain their current land holdings as well as hike surrounding spaces to connect with other members in a natural setting. I look forward to my endeavors with this group. The organization is selling a gorgeous photography book Woods & Water by Ed Lawrence. All proceeds of the sale of the book support the mission of WWLT.

KAEE: What projects or programs are you working on that particularly inspire you?

Barb: I have a strong desire to connect our community to our natural resources. I thrive on working with groups to educate about our environment, how we are interconnected with it, and how we may improve it. It is truly a blessing to share the wonders of the outdoors with children who have never had an opportunity to spend time in nature. I am grateful to work with these groups and share opportunities that spark interest for years to come. I love to hear students say they plan to bring their families to share what they have seen and learned with those close to them. We often see children return with their family to “show them how to canoe” and see wildlife along the creek!

KAEE: What goals do you have for your organization or programs within the EE field?

Barb: Frankfort is located on the Kentucky River. It has a rich history associated with its founding, growth, and development as Kentucky’s capitol on the river. My desire is to connect others with this history and our river. Many people neglect to see the river tucked in behind our vibrant downtown. I desire to connect our community with our natural resources and the environment along the Kentucky River whether it is through hikes in city parks along the riverbanks, or paddling excursions to see the river habitat. As the city of Frankfort moves forward with its Downtown and Community Engagement Master Plan, I see potential to explore the downtown and river together.

CKY’s Peaks Mill location is the heart of our business where our main rental and retail shop resides. I aspire to educate our community about our Elkhorn Creek, its natural beauty, and its inhabitants. I wish to continue to share my love of the outdoors, and the water with children and their families. It is my desire to engage them with this resource so they will love and care for it throughout their lives.

KAEE: What is an area you feel you could use support in from this network of fellow educators?

Barb: CKY is a small, family-owned business with many facets. We conduct our environmental education programs in Franklin County. We have a small management team year-round and full staff for our busy paddling season. We utilize our management team and volunteers to assist with EE programs with large groups especially in the off season when our seasonal staff is unavailable. There are times when it is beneficial to call on our fellow educators to provide the best possible environmental educational experience for our groups. It is wonderful to engage the talents of our fellow educators in their areas of expertise so they may share their passion for environmental education with our participants.

KAEE: What is something you feel could be beneficial to share with this network?

Barb: CKY is a valuable resource for our community as we have a large fleet of canoes, kayaks, SUP boards, paddles, and PFDs in our rental operation. We offer self-guided and guided paddling experiences. We encourage you to book your group for an outdoor educational experience. CKY is a fantastic place to get away to spend time with your family and friends. Need a weekend getaway? CKY even offers glamping along the banks of the Elkhorn! We look forward to working with you. See you on the water!

KAEE: Share one fun fact (or tidbit) about yourself with the group!

Barb: I assist my in-laws each year with the Festival of the Bluegrass Music Festival held on the 1st and 2nd full weekends in June at the Kentucky Horse Park Campground. You will find me filling several roles there behind the scenes. I look forward to its return after the pandemic.


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