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.
2019 was a big year for environmental education, around the world and here in Kentucky. We've included below some of our favorite EE stories from the past year. What are some of your favorites?
Environmental Education Will Shape A New Generation Of Decision-Makers. "Young people: They care. They know that this is the world that they're going to grow up in, that they're going to spend the rest of their lives in. But, I think it's more idealistic than that."
Stanford analysis reveals wide array of benefits from environmental education. “The review found clear evidence that environmental education programs provide a variety of benefits. Not surprisingly, the studies clearly showed that students taking part in environmental education programming gained knowledge about the environment. But the studies also showed that learning about the environment is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Hundreds of Environmental Educators ‘Energized’ by National Conference in Lexington. “I came away, as I do every year, energized, motivated and buoyed by the optimism and drive found at the heart of virtually every environmental educator.”
Curriculum-based outdoor learning for children aged 9-11: A qualitative analysis of pupils’ and teachers’ views. “Outdoor learning is a pedagogical approach used to enrich learning, enhance school engagement and improve pupil health and wellbeing.”
Kentucky educators and institutions receive NAAEE Awards. Melinda Wilder, Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez, and Berea College were honored as award recipients at the North American Association for Environmental Education's Annual Conference in October.
Kentucky Association for Environmental Education Adopts New Strategic Plan. “We recognize that a significant part of our role is to support the ‘boots on the ground’—the educators who do this work every day. Our new plan emphasizes the important role we play as a backbone organization, supporting and enhancing that community-level work where real change is happening. We truly believe that this is how we will achieve an environmentally knowledgeable society.”
Italy to become first country to make learning about climate change compulsory for school students. "From next year, Italian school students in every grade will be required to study climate change and sustainability, in an attempt to position the country as a world leader in environmental education."
Kentucky has one of the nation’s best environmental education programs. “The program was very beneficial to me because it focused a lot on environmental issues, teaching strategies and communities. It really challenged me to think about how I teach and present environmental education materials. We also learned a lot about the history of environmental education. I knew some things about the history of EE, but I learned quite a bit more, especially about the movement within Kentucky.”
Focusing on the core idea that all children deserve quality time outdoors, the Youth Outdoor Policy Partnership has just launched a Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook, available online, to help legislators, community leaders, and all other interested parties advance youth-centered state policies for outdoor education and engagement. The Playbook highlights existing and promising policy solutions, provides a platform for sharing and advancing new ideas, and connects cross-sector leaders working on statewide policy initiatives.
With funding from the Pisces Foundation and REI, the Youth Outdoor Policy Partnership developed the Playbook with collective expertise and resources from the North American Association for Environmental Education, the Children & Nature Network, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL). These partners shared their knowledge of existing policies as well as emerging initiatives that connect kids to the outdoors, environmental education, and nature-based learning opportunities.
The Playbook is guided by a Policy Framework that outlines shared values, key principles, and innovative statewide policy strategies for increasing youth outdoor engagement. Here, readers will find inspirational case studies—such as the Maryland Green Schools Act and Oregon’s Outdoor School for All—supporting research, a bill library, and more.
In addition, the Playbook includes a comprehensive collection of research supporting the countless benefits of spending time outdoors, including the ways it promotes good health, supports children’s happiness, boosts learning and academic achievement, and helps children learn to care for the environment.
Explore the complete contents of the Youth Outdoor Policy Playbook here.
Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez has been awarded the 2019 Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Award at the Local and Regional Level by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE).
Sánchez was recognized for her work as the Recreation Manager at Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, her contributions to climate change research at Kentucky State University and her leadership roles with regional and state environmental education associations. Sánchez places equity and inclusion at the forefront of her work, including facilitating Kentucky’s only bilingual Project Learning Tree trainings. She is a certified Kentucky Professional Environmental Educator and has served on the national stage on NOAA’s Climate Stewards Program and NAAEE’s climate change panel.
“What has inspired me is working with and learning from so many dedicated young people who are beyond just educating the public, but really working toward getting folks to understand the ‘why’ of environmental programming and the call to action to get engaged and involved in making our world a bit better each day,” said Sánchez.
NAAEE began awarding the Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Award in 1974 to recognize environmental educators and advocates who have made notable contributions to the field. Individuals and organizations at the global, regional, national and local levels are eligible.
“Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez's contributions to environmental education have been remarkable and she serves as a model for so many people inside and outside Kentucky,” said Judy Braus, Executive Director for NAAEE. “She is one of the most creative and thoughtful leaders in the field and has helped strengthen environmental education through her passion, creativity and dedication to building a more equitable and sustainable society.”
Jennifer has served on the board of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education since 2013. She has been at the forefront of the organization for the past seven years, most recently as chair. She has lived and studied in Spain, México, and Costa Rica, and has implemented youth development programming in México and Honduras. Her diverse career path, education and training, volunteer experience, and professional passion have provided her with experience not only in the environmental education field, but in sustainability, diversity, and climate change education. She is a visionary, yet highly action-oriented individual. She has a love and determination that cannot be beaten and has earned the respect of everyone in the environmental education field.
By NAAEE Staff
At KAEE, our Board of Directors gives to the organization their time, energy, passion, ideas, and gifts. Why? Here's what they had to say.
"I care about environmental education because it serves as a key to appreciating natural systems, and informs and give us the courage to take action on environmental issues impacting us all." -Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez
"KAEE supports those individuals and programs that promote environmental education. Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an organization to support a common good." -Rae McEntyre
"I give to KAEE because the work is important, the people are passionate and dedicated, and the impact is great. KAEE is an excellent steward, both of my money and of the environment." -Jennifer Beach
"I care about Environmental Education because it connects people to nature, which can be transformative. EE also helps develop skills to care for and advocate for our home, planet earth, which in turn benefits all life, including future generations." -Jackie Gallimore
"Caring about our impact on the natural world begins with curiosity. EE professional developments have led me into coal mines, power plants, caves, and creeks. Then, I pay that curiosity forward to those I teach." -Vivian Bowles
"I support KAEE because education is the foundation for building a better tomorrow." -Jason Nally
This #givingtuesday (or anytime!), join us in building a foundation for a sustainable future. Visit our Mighty Cause pages to learn more about how your donations support educators around Kentucky and to support our mission.
Envisioning a world in which “action-oriented education enables every child to understand and value water, ensuring a sustainable future,” Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) is built on the premise that water connects all humankind, is for everyone, must be managed sustainably, and depends on personal responsibility and action.
From developing heavily utilized water resource education materials to offering educator training workshops to organizing community events such as water festivals, Project WET works with people around the world to advocate for the role of water education in solving complex water issues. “Our Earth’s finite but renewable water resources affect the health and well-being of every person on the planet,” Project WET says. “That means we must protect, conserve, and manage the water we have. Water education helps us do that.”
In the U.S., the Project WET network includes state agencies, municipal utilities, zoos and aquariums, faith-based organizations, colleges and universities, and many other organizations with an interest in water and education. Additionally, Project WET has a presence in more than 70 other countries; Project WET materials have been customized, localized, and translated for countries ranging from China to Uganda.
The Project WET team develops their materials with a broad range of educators in mind, from classroom teachers to nature center staff to zookeepers to parents. The program’s educational activities are designed to seamlessly complement existing curricula, with activities fulfilling objectives and educational standards not only in the sciences but other disciplines, from fine arts to health, as well.
In Kentucky, KAEE provides the daily operational activities of Project WET through an innovative partnership with the Kentucky Division of Water (KDOW), which serves as the host institution of Project WET and provides essential funding for the program as well as a limited number of teacher stipends and curriculum guides. In 2019, more than 12 workshops coordinated by KAEE and our facilitator network focused on Project WET activities.
“The Project WET Foundation is an amazing organization that develops curriculum and resources that are invaluable to formal and nonformal educators alike,” says Brittany Wray, KAEE Education Director and Kentucky's state co-coordinator for Project WET. “Project WET activities promote critical-thinking and problem-solving skills that educators are searching for.”
Learn more at projectwet.org.
By Leigh Cocanougher
Dr. Melinda Wilder has been recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) as the 2019 Higher Education Educator of the Year for her lifelong service to the field.
In 1983, Wilder began her career as a middle school mathematics and science teacher. In that role, she developed her school’s outdoor classroom to teach a variety of subjects in natural settings. That experience and her passion for teaching about the environment led her to obtain a Ph.D. in science education. Wilder began teaching in the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) in 1994 and became the Director of the Division of Natural Areas at EKU in 2005. The following year, she led the development of an environmental education endorsement program at EKU that was accredited by NAAEE and later by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
Over the last decade, Wilder has sat on the board of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education, partnered with Ecology Project International and improved Yellowstone National Park’s teacher fellowship program. “By working with preservice and inservice teachers through undergraduate and graduate classes at the University, I hopefully initiated a ripple effect—wherein they too help their students connect with the natural world,” said Wilder.
The Higher Education Educator of the Year award honors individuals for their efforts in promoting environmental education and using the environment as a context for learning in their teaching. “Dr. Wilder has been a superstar in environmental education, always looking for ways to integrate environmental education into her teaching and helping students gain the knowledge, skills and know-how to be a positive force for sustainability in their communities,” said Judy Braus, Executive Director of NAAEE. “Her career exemplifies leadership, volunteer spirit and innovation and we are thrilled to recognize her outstanding accomplishments in the field.”
One of the longest-standing members of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education, Melinda continues to work tirelessly with KAEE to ensure its continued success and growth. She served on the Board of Directors from 2006-2010 and the governance committee from 2015-2019. She has been an instructor in the Professional Environmental Educator Certification Course, an NAAEE accredited program, for 13 years. In 2015, Dr. Melinda Wilder was awarded the KAEE Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding commitment and service to EE.
By Colby Parkinson, NAAEE
In today’s climate—social, political, and literal—our young people’s ability to spend meaningful time outdoors each day has never been more important. We know that our children will be tasked with solving the planet’s increasing environmental problems, and it is our duty as today’s adults to give them first the opportunity to love their natural surroundings: to watch the squirrels in their backyards, recognize the call of the cardinals in their trees, study the bees and butterflies in their gardens. The greatest gift we can give to our children is a love for the outdoors, and the greatest gift we can give to the outdoors is a generation of children who love it.
At KAEE, this duty is forever in our minds. To see through our vision of a sustainable world where environmental and social responsibility drive individual and institutional choices, we strive each day to ensure Kentucky’s children have daily opportunities to know and love their natural world—to engage in education in the environment, about the environment, for the environment. To do so, we rely on the gifts and donations from people who support environmental education and the work we are doing in the field. Donations to KAEE allow us to train educators, bolster community engagement, build collective impact, and continue our efforts in ensuring that environmental education is incorporated into all of Kentucky's classrooms.
Join us today in seeing our vision through, and help us make a true impact in our state, region, country, and world. Help us ensure that our youngest generations have the chance to explore, hike, swim, climb, paddle, camp, bike outdoors. Help us help them love the outdoors. Help us help them protect it.
By Leigh Cocanougher
Held at Lexington’s McConnell Springs Park, KAEE’s 2019 Excellence in EE Awards Ceremony and Annual Member Meeting took place on Tuesday, October 29, and welcomed more than 40 KAEE members and friends with the opportunity to network, hear KAEE updates, vote on current association matters, and recognize KAEE’s award winners, the Kentucky Environmental Education Council’s Master Educators, and the retiring and new KAEE board members.
During the event, KAEE Executive Director Ashley Hoffman thanked the 2018-2019 Board of Directors and offered additional words of gratitude to those board members who have now completed their service—Mark Young, Trevor Claiborn, Jennifer Meunier, Carmen Agouridis, and Henrietta Sheffel. Henrietta, who has just completed seven consecutive years on the KAEE board, has served as treasurer since 2012, and her remarkable dedication to the organization was highlighted during the meeting.
Hoffman also provided her annual Executive Director update, sharing the ways KAEE is working to advance environmental literacy around the state and beyond through educator and facilitator workshops, soon-to-be-released online EEcredits program, working groups who are connecting EE activities with education areas beyond science, and by serving as a pilot state for the North American Association for Environmental Education’s “Adopt the Guidelines” of Excellence trainings. She also highlighted KAEE’s ongoing and important work with the Southeastern Environmental Education Association and the NAAEE, as well as sharing highlights from the recent NAAEE Annual Conference, which KAEE co-hosted.
Members who were in attendance then approved the 2019 board slate, which included returning board members Jennifer Beach, Vivian Bowles, and Tonya Swan and new board members Jackie Gallimore and Jason Nally. Remaining on the board for the 2019-2020 year are past chair Billie Hardin, chair Jennifer Hubbard-Sánchez, vice chair Blair Hecker, secretary Whitney Wurzel, and members Arnetta McClary and Rae McEntyre.
Members in attendance also approved changes to the KAEE Constitution, which include the addition of new term limits and specify that no board member can serve for more than seven consecutive years.
KEEC’s Executive Director Billy Bennett and Administrative Specialist Wesley Bullock then recognized the 2018 and 2019 Master Educators, who have completed the state’s Professional Environmental Educator Certification course and, afterward, completed six consecutive years of continuing education requirements in the field. The list includes Joe Baust, Vivian Bowles, Ashley Hoffman, Kathleen Johnson, Ginny Lewis, Tresine Logsdon, Diane Moon, Karen Pratt, Michelle Shane, Henrietta Sheffel, Andy Sigmon, Christa Weidner, Terry Wilson, and Maria Zoretic-Goodwin.
The KAEE 2019 Excellence in EE Awards recognize Lee Newbury (Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Environmental Education), Carmen Agouridis (M.K. Dickerson Award for Excellence in Environmental Education), Ashley Mike (Rising Star Award for Excellence in Environmental Education), Highlands High School (Outstanding PreK-12 School for Excellence in Environmental Education), Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy (Outstanding Community Partner for Excellence in Environmental Education), and Maker’s Mark Distillery (Outstanding Business for Excellence in Environmental Education).
To conclude the event, Dr. Terry Wilson, a founding member of KAEE and beloved EE champion in Kentucky and way beyond, introduced KAEE's new Legacy Fund. Wilson spoke of his background in EE, his dedication to its mission, and how he is helping jumpstart the Legacy Fund with a $5,000 gift not to be used to support the great work already being done by KAEE but to “do magic,” he said, “beyond what KAEE has been able to do thus far.”
By Leigh Cocanougher