Today we’re excited to feature a new KAEE member and energetic formal educator in central Kentucky, Ryan Bowers. Ryan teaches at The Lexington School (TLS) which has a rich history of nurturing curiosity, courage, creativity, and collaboration with their students. Ryan is also lucky enough to get to teach EE and outdoor education on TLS’s campus of over 40 acres of fields, forest, and a watershed!
While you’ll usually find Ryan and his students exploring and learning within their green campus, they also prioritize taking students off campus on trips to places like Pine Mountain (KY), Green River Preserve (NC), Red River Gorge (KY), Barrier Islands (SC), even Zion National Park (UT) and The Grand Canyon (AZ)! We caught up with this new member to learn a bit more about why he joined KAEE and what he hopes to glean from the network.
KAEE: What is your current role at The Lexington School (TLS)?
Ryan: Currently I am teaching a specials class for kindergarten through 5 th grade called Citizen Science. This is an Outdoor Education class modeled after the National Geographic Citizen Science Program. The class uses a STEM and small group learning approach and tackles individual projects in each grade to teach about outdoor and environmental education.
KAEE: What projects or programs are you working on that particularly inspire you?
Ryan: After attending the KAEE Conference in the fall for the first time, I was so inspired by all of the great work going into Environmental Education here in Kentucky. I came back
with so many great ideas for curriculum, especially for my kindergarten and first grade
students. Looking at programs such as Project WET, Project WILD, and Project
Learning have given me so many great ideas for lessons in the classroom. I was also
really inspired to bring more conservation lessons into the classroom with programs
such as Don’t Waste It Kentucky.
KAEE: What goals do you have for your organization or programs within the EE field?
Ryan: My goal with Citizen Science is to use The Lexington School’s amazing campus to
immerse students in nature, teach outdoor skills, encourage service, and appreciate the
beauty around them. As well as to become stewards of their community and its
KAEE: What is an area you feel you could use support in from this network of fellow educators?
Ryan: I am always open to ideas, and I love to teach my students that from time
to time its ok to try and not succeed. With the outdoor gardens the students work on, we
plant in the spring as well as the fall, so that we can discuss why aspects of the garden
didn’t grow in the winter. I try to take this approach to all of my lessons as well,
sometimes the lesson doesn’t work and its good to look at why and what I can change.
Building curriculum and seeing what types of lessons and tools work in other
classrooms and with other educators that I may be able to incorporate into my class is
really the biggest support I am looking for.
KAEE: What is something you feel could be beneficial to share with this network?
Ryan: What kind of lessons and tools I have found that worked well in my class I think would
be incredibly beneficial. As well as different tools such as guest speakers, supplies,
classroom animals, suppliers, and ways to use a budget are all things that educators
could use. I think keeping a healthy dialogue with other outdoor educators, and
eventually becoming a reliable and sought out voice for outdoor educators would be
what I strive to share with this network.
KAEE: Would you like to share a fun fact or tidbit about yourself with the group?
Ryan: On top of being an educator and having the amazing class that I get to teach each day, I am also a coach of many sports including Archery, Basketball, and Lacrosse. I love
coaching and often times find lessons from coaching finding their way into the