Along with most people all around the world, many of our members and friends are facing immense challenges during the rapidly changing COVID-19 pandemic. Some are working remotely for what might be the first time ever. Some are on furlough. Some have found themselves suddenly without employment. Some are trying to balance working at home and homeschooling their children, whose schools are closed. If they’re like us, many are worried about parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors. And we know that many are worried about the still unknown impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic may have on their jobs, their organizations, their staff, and their educational missions.
We also recognize that many of our more vulnerable populations stand to be the most impacted due to lost wages or jobs, the absence of childcare, and a number of other factors. Wherever you are, and however you are feeling, we are here for you. We are all in this together, and our network is strong.
KAEE is committed to collaboration and network-building as part of the current and long-term solutions to this crisis. We are working with our state partners, our counterparts in other states, the North American Association for Environmental Education, and other national partners to compile and provide resources and bring our communities together. No one should feel like they have to navigate this alone.
We believe that although we don't know what the outcome of this situation will be, it helps to stay positive. Get outside. Watch some pandas. Or puppies. Or the Northern Lights. And if you need support, please don't hesitate to ask. We and Kentucky’s amazing EE network are here to help.
Doing your part to flatten the curve doesn’t mean you can’t get out and enjoy the spring. Now more than ever, people of all ages need the proven benefits of time outdoors (including reduced stress and anxiety!). Looking for ideas and inspiration? Check out some of our recommendations below for ways to get outside this month while keeping yourself and others healthy. And for great outdoor education ideas for home learning, be sure to check out this post from the Kentucky Environmental Education Council!
Outdoor family experiences
-Take a hike. Many nature and hiking trails around the state remain open for hikers. (For the latest on public lands access across Kentucky during the COVID-19 outbreak, check out Explore Kentucky's guide here.) Just keep social distancing recommendations in mind on the trails!
-Go biking. Whether on a trail or in your neighborhood, a bike ride is an ideal activity
-Take your kids on a bug hunt (and/or bird and/or butterfly hunt)!
-Count the stars and name the constellations. Make your own star finder from NASA!
-Have a family campout. Like several of Kentucky’s state parks, many campgrounds are still open this March.
-Explore nearby streams.
Outdoor experiences near home
-Get a jumpstart on spring planting.
-Take a walk or jog. Benefit from movement and fresh air!
-Incorporate the outdoors into your children’s day. While schools are closed, parents and guardians can keep their little learners engaged with the world around them. Though no formal curriculum is needed for some students, hundreds of curricular outdoor activities are available for free online. Check out some of our faves here!
-Start (or continue) a nature journal.
-Practice outdoor yoga or meditation.
-Have that family campout take place in your own backyard (s’mores, anyone?).
-Make sidewalk chalk artwork.
-Design a simple kite and take it flying.
-Play yard games (badminton, anyone?).
-Create a backyard nature fort with branches, rocks, and leaves!
Activities in or about the outdoors for times you are without easy access to a green space
-Take a walk or jog. Take advantage of wherever you are to explore your outdoors.
-Lead lessons about the outdoors while you’re indoors. Many activities are designed to be entirely flexible and allow for learning about the outdoors from inside a formal classroom or at home.
-Read a book/draw or paint/play a card or board game on your balcony or patio. Take your schoolwork and other fun activities outside, too.
-Check out wildlife webcams (like the Dale Hollow Eagle Live Stream) and live streams from zoos and nature centers. Conservation educators with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources are currently hosting special Facebook Live sessions at 1pm (Eastern) on weekdays. These sessions live stream on the Salato Wildlife Education Center's Facebook page (@SalatoWildlifeEducationCenter).
-Make a homemade bird feeder, or buy one to hang on your deck.
-Take virtual (and free) tours of 31 national parks. No, it’s not like visiting them in person. But it’s very cool. And you can do it from your couch, which at the moment isn’t a bad thing.
-Plant spring flowers and herbs for your windowsills.
We know that this is a challenging time for everyone as we navigate the impact of the coronavirus and do all we can to prevent it from spreading further. We recognize that many of our more vulnerable populations stand to be the most affected due to lost wages, lack of childcare, job layoffs, and so forth. We also understand that in addition to impacting each of us on a personal level, the pandemic is having significant impacts on our organizations, our communities, and our programs that will likely affect us for quite some time. Knowing we are all navigating similar challenges, and being aware of the current need for social distancing, we would like to provide a couple of opportunities for you to stay engaged and benefit from the EE network you are a part of, connecting with others in the environmental education community and discussing how you or your organization is responding to the coronavirus outbreak.
Monday, March 16, from 2-3:30pm - Nonprofits, Agencies, and Community Organization Leaders: Join us to share your questions and suggestions about issues related to event and program cancelations, how you are communicating with the public, how to address lost sponsorships or revenue, disinfecting public spaces, how to handle staffing issues, etc. We will also discuss opportunities participants see as being available for serving our communities, serving our more vulnerable populations, and offering alternate engagement options.
Tuesday, March 17, from 3-4:30pm - Environmental Educators, Professors, and Classroom Teachers: Join us to discuss how/if you are transitioning to virtual or non-traditional instruction, how you are handling your EE programs, opportunities for encouraging outdoor time for families during the school closures, how to communicate with the public, and so on.
These will be open space forums for us to share and learn from one another. To join either or both sessions, click on the links available on our event calendar.
Fifty years ago, educators and students were the driving force behind the success of the very first Earth Day. Now, the Earth Day Network wants to support formal and non-formal educators as they implement environmental and civic education programming as the world celebrates the 50th Earth Day on April 22.
Inspired to build the world’s largest environmental movement that will “drive transformative change for people and planet,” the Earth Day Network strives to diversify, educate, and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Working with more than 75,000 partners in more than 190 countries, they focus year-round on “positive action for our planet.”
As part of this year’s 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Network is inviting educators around the world to register as Earth Day Schools. By doing so, teachers and administrators will join a global network of educators striving to increase climate and environmental literacy. Registered schools will also be added to the global map, where students can see how the stewardship activities they participate in throughout 2020 relate to work being done by their fellow students throughout the world. To join this global network of Earth Day Schools, please fill out the Earth Day School Form.
The Earth Day Network has also created an interactive map where users can find Earth Day events—from citizen science activities to cleanups to presentations to fairs to rallies—near them, wherever they are. Hosting your own Earth Day event this year? You can register it here!
By Leigh Cocanougher
Bordering the Kentucky River just outside of Lexington is Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, a 734-acre natural area complete with trails, woodlands, streams, meadows, and a team of devoted staff dedicated to making visitors feel welcome and engaged. From classes exploring on field trips to families stopping by for weekend hikes, visitors to Raven Run find that there is something for everyone, and one visit is almost never enough.
“Although there are so many memorable moments from working with so many members of the public,” says Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez, Recreation Manager, “some of our favorites are the kids who come out on school field trips and then come back shortly after with their parents because they want show off what they have learned.”
Open year-round, the nature sanctuary is an ideal classroom no matter the season. And it is a popular one—in the fall of 2019 alone, Raven Run hosted more than 500 youth from Fayette County Public Schools for school day programs.
Activities and workshops for these kinds of field trips are developed in alignment with Kentucky Academic Standards. “We have designed programs on fossils, Kentucky history, and habitats and adaptations that were implemented with groups of several different ages,” Hubbard-Sánchez says. “Our programs’ content can be adapted to fit the needs of teachers as we understand the need to structure field trips around the Standards.”
To make visits accessible to as many students as possible, Raven Run offers transportation grants through the Friends of Raven Run to cover the cost of school busses for Fayette County Public School groups.
Students stay engaged during lessons at Raven Run through a mix of indoor learning, outdoor experiences, and hikes. Scout groups and other community organizations also frequent the sanctuary for an array of activities, from wildflower walks to invasive species removal workshops. “It’s exciting to see people come to a program and leave with new knowledge that they’re excited about,” says Park Naturalist Anna Wiker. “Seeing people’s mindsets change about a preconceived notion they may have about a certain animal, snake, or spider is always satisfying to experience.”
And, Hubbard-Sánchez says,“seeing the magic of little kids tagging monarchs in late summer and watching them fly away is a special moment a lot of us remember.”
No visitor leaves Raven Run without having witnessed the staff’s palpable enthusiasm for their work. “Every day I learn something new about the land, whether it’s about the history of the preserve or a neat fact about an animal that lives here,” says Recreation Leader Phoebe Kingsley. “You never know who will stop by for a program or a hike, and seeing a kid’s face light up when they see a unique creature for the first time is always so exciting and sweet.”
Seth Paddick, Recreation Specialist, says he and his fellow staff are motivated by having the opportunity “to take part in conserving a natural area for people to enjoy and learn about the importance of the natural world.” And, Kingsley adds, “not everyone can say that they get to hike at work!”
Belonging to the city of Lexington and funded through tax dollars, Raven Run is a welcome retreat from city life for more than 60,000 visitors each year. “We may be a nature sanctuary, but we also work for the public,” Hubbard-Sánchez says. “We welcome new ideas and feedback from all members of the public on how we can improve Raven Run for everyone!”
By Leigh Cocanougher
Jackie Gallimore is the Lower School Science Teacher at Sayre School in Lexington and has worked around the country at several environmental education centers and museums. She is a facilitator of Project Wet, Project Wild, Project Learning Tree, and Project Underground and is a Certified Professional Environmental Educator.
1. If you could be any animal, which would you be? A dolphin
2. What is the top destination on your would-love-to-visit list? Amazon Rainforest
3. If you could visit another period in time for a year, what time would you return to? The early 1800’s
4. What is your favorite place to visit in Kentucky? Mammoth Cave
5. Who inspires you? Many people! Jane Goodall, Greta Thunberg and Brene Brown come to mind.
6. What’s the last book you read? Erosion by Terry Tempest Williams
7. Who would you most like to swap places with for a day? A remote field biologist
8. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Flight
9. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Moss green
10. What’s the weirdest food you’ve ever eaten? Swedish salty black licorice – do not recommend!
11. What do you find most energizing about environmental education? Sharing the outdoors with young people who appreciate it
12. What was your first job? Bagger at Kroger
13. What is something you saw recently that made you smile? PreK students planting their first seeds
14. What is something—big or small—that you think you’re really bad at? Singing
15. What is something—big or small—that you’re really good at? Organization
16. If you had to pick one age to be permanently, what age would you be? 33
17. What fictional place would you most like to visit? Hogwarts, of course!
18. What kind of art do you enjoy most? Contemporary watercolor and anything made of felt!
19. What is one hobby you’d love to get into? Photography
20. What is your favorite aspect of being a member of KAEE? Learning and friendships at conferences
Join the 2020 ee360 Community EE Fellowship Program, NAAEE's ongoing initiative to support leadership and innovation in environmental education across the country! Comprised of a diverse and inspiring cadre of educators and community leaders working to address environmental issues at the local, state, and national level, the program is a part of ee360, an ambitious five-year effort to promote environmental education and prepare skilled leaders who are actively increasing environmental literacy for everyone.
The ee360 Community EE Fellowship provides an opportunity for innovative and creative environmental educators of all ages from across the United States to network and learn together while they make a difference in their respective communities. Fellows across North America work in communities of color, low-income urban neighborhoods, impoverished rural regions, and across multi-state regions to mitigate the impacts of environmental degradation on communities by helping them become more resilient to the pressing challenges.
The nine-month fellowship will provide ee360 Community EE Fellows with opportunities to learn, network, and share through face-to-face training, online professional development, and technical assistance. The fellowship will also lay a strong foundation for continued professional growth after the program ends.
Benefits of Becoming a Fellow
Each Fellow accepted into the program will receive training and individualized support for their work, including the following:
By Leigh Cocanougher
The 2020 Kentucky Association for Environmental Education Annual Conference will be held Sept. 17-19 at Jenny Wiley State Park. This year's theme is "Community Engagement: Building Sustainable Communities through the Power of Environmental Education."
Conference strands for 2020 include Education (EE Curriculum Programs, K-12 Education, Adult & Family Education, STEM, Green & Health Schools, etc.), Partnerships & Innovation (Community Partnerships, New & Innovative Projects, etc.), Civic Action (Community Service Projects, Service Learning, Green Schools Community Projects, etc.), and Capacity Building (Outreach, Fundraising, Communications, Messaging, Branding, Technology, etc.).
Call for Proposals
The call for proposals is now open! To submit a proposal, complete the form here. In your proposal, please explain how you will engage participants and what they can hope to gain from this professional development opportunity. Be sure to address the following: *What materials will you provide to participants? *How does the session relate to the conference strand? *What are the anticipated outcomes participants can expect from their participation in this session? Please note that this is a competitive request for proposals, and not all proposals can or will be accepted.
Registration for the conference will open this July. For more details, visit the 2020 KAEE Conference webpage.
Join us at the 2020 Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA) Conference!
Held in Columbia, South Carolina, from September 24-26, the conference will welcome members and friends from the eight states who comprise this network of southeastern state affiliates of the North American Association for Environmental Education. This year’s conference theme is “Environmental Legacy: It’s Our Story. Past, Present, and Future.” Three strands help shape the event—“Pages of the Past,” “Present-Day Plotlines,” and “Foreshadowing the Future.”
The conference’s affiliate host, the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina (EEASC), has opened the call for proposals for general sessions and for the research symposium. The deadline to submit proposals is March 15.
Symposium presenters and conference speakers may register at the Early Bird rate of $180 before August 24, 2020 or the regular conference rate of $200 after August 24, 2020. Students may register at the discounted rate of $150.
Not ready to present this year? There are plenty of other ways to get involved beyond regular attendance! EEASC is currently accepting conference sponsorships and silent auction item contributions. Funds raised through the silent auction support SEEA and EEASC initiatives.
Formalized in 2012, SEEA is a collaborative group with members Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee with the mission to “provide southeastern state environmental education associations and their members with valuable networking and communication opportunities that lead to greater success for all.”
For all the details about the 2020 SEEA Conference, click here.
KAEE is one of the country’s oldest associations supporting environmental education. We comprise people from all walks of life, coming together to support EE.