KAEE recently caught up with newly certified KAEE facilitator, Perry Thomas, to talk about her journey as an environmental educator and what she has been working on recently in the world of EE! Perry is a dedicated conservationist who loves teaching and sharing her ideas and passions with others.
KAEE: Tell us a little about yourself!
Perry: As District Program Coordinator for the Oldham County Conservation District, my work is to inspire local actions that lead to healthier soil, water, and wildlife when practiced by many. With KAEE, I recently completed certification as a workshop facilitator. At home, my family works with Molly-the-mule and our oxen to restore a farmstead in Henry County. When not working, I love spending time with family and friends exploring woodlands, paddling waterways, and tending gardens.
KAEE: What projects or programs are you working on that particularly inspire you?
Perry: In my new job, I am excited about applying my experience and knowledge at the local level. For example, this month the Conservation District celebrates Pollinator Week 2023 with the theme of “Climate and Pollinators” (visit: pollinator.org/pollinator-week to learn more). Together with the Oldham County Beekeepers Association, we will table at the La Grange Farmers Market on June 20th and 24th, promoting our pollinator habitat cost-share program—an opportunity for Oldham County residents to plan and plant native wildflower gardens.
KAEE: What do you think is the most beneficial part of being involved in KAEE?
Perry: I started my role with the Conservation District in March 2023, after working for several years as a River Basin Coordinator with the Kentucky Division of Water (DOW). Kentucky’s seven River Basin Coordinators collaborate to plan environmental education outreach, often together with other KAEE members. DOW supported me in becoming a Certified Professional Environmental Educator through the partnership between KAEE and the Kentucky Environmental Education Council. During that training, I not only added interdisciplinary EE approaches to my science education background but also began growing a network of new colleagues.
KAEE: What is an area you feel you could use support in from this network of fellow educators?
Perry: One responsibility I have in Oldham County is to work more closely with formal educators in building a culture of conservation. I look forward to learning from KAEE members who have worked within Kentucky school districts to integrate EE into the curriculum.
KAEE: What is something you feel could be beneficial to share with this network?
Perry: As a newly certified KAEE facilitator, I partner with the KAEE team to create workshops that focus on finding ways to incorporate climate education into our work. Participants consider questions such as “What local phenomena help engage students in exploring climate-related changes?” and “How can we align EE with Kentucky Academic Standards to develop well-articulated, longitudinal climate education?”
KAEE: What goals do you have for your organization or programs within the EE field?
Perry: Going forward, one goal of the Oldham County Conservation District is to collaborate with Watershed Watch in Kentucky and Friends of Currys Fork, a local watershed association, to promote watershed education and management. I also look forward to partnering with The Berry Center in Henry County to offer a Leopold Education Project training. With KAEE, I anticipate continuing my professional growth while supporting the KAEE team’s knack for infusing EE with hope.