Kentucky Association for Environmental Education board of directors member Rae McEntyre has been appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Education Advisory Council! During her one-year appointment, McEntyre will serve as a special government employee and will provide independent advice based on her expertise in planning, developing, and implementing science-based education programs.
The National Environmental Education Advisory Council provides advice and counsel on the implementation of the National Environmental Education Act of 1990. It is organized under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which regulates and governs its operation, including public participation and access to documents.
McEntyre, Kentucky Department of Education science consultant, is a Certified Professional Environmental Educator and serves on several KAEE board of directors sub-committees. She has more than 30 years of experience as a science educator, which includes 20 years in the classroom. We are thrilled that she will now be able to share her outstanding EE expertise on a national level as well!
“Zoom into Environmental Education" with Drew Lanham and the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance
"Connecting the conservation dots” is Drew Lanham’s research mission, something that in the past “focused on the impacts of forest management and other human activities on songbirds, herpetofauna, small mammals, and butterflies,” he shares, and now centers more on “how ethnicity (especially Black Americans) relates to wildlife and other conservation issues.”
Dr. Lanham, internationally renowned and respected professor, author, poet, birder, and hunter, will deliver the keynote address of this fall’s exciting Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance virtual conference, hosted by the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina and held Sept. 24 and 25. Mark your calendars and get ready to “Zoom into Environmental Education!”
For just $25, conference attendees will enjoy a Research Symposium featuring the work of scholars from across the southeast and a selection of General Conference Sessions on topics ranging from "Public Reception of Climate News Media" to "Improving Evaluation in EE." The event will also include virtual trivia hosted by Allie Sorlie of the University of Alabama's Museum of Natural History.
Conference sessions will be recorded and will be available for conference registrants to view after the event.
Conference Sponsors include Duke Energy, Moore Farms Botanical Gardens, SC Association of Conservation Districts, SC Department of Natural Resources, Sonoco Recycling, Columbia Fireflies, Columbia Water, Florence County Museum, The Greenhouse Company, Roper Mountain Science Center, Dominion Energy, Lake Conestee Nature Park, SC State Museum, Champions of the Environment, Joye Law Firm, Prioleau Insurance Services, SC Farm to School, and the SC Energy Office.
Learn more and register here.
By Leigh Cocanougher
At the July 10 meeting of the KAEE Board of Directors, the board passed two motions to update the membership model and benefits for KAEE members. And we couldn’t be more excited about them!
The new model simplifies our previous model and reduces the number of organizational member levels. It also adds new benefits, including more significant discounts, to individuals and organizational members.
Under the new model, individual membership is still available on the student level (with dues being $25 annually) and general level (with dues of $50 annually). New benefits to the individual general level include a 20% discount on KAEE conference registration, significant discounts for participation in our eeCredentials or individual courses, and (when we are able to host them safely!) an increased number of all-member and regional member meet-ups.
For organizations wishing to become members, two levels are now available. One level, with dues of $250 annually, offers one free conference registration and up to two members listed in the member directory and who are able to receive discounts on conference, eeCredentials and other member offerings. A $500 organizational membership level is also available, which offers two free conference registrations and an unlimited number of members listed in the directory and able to receive member discounts for conference, eeCredentials, and other offerings.
Several membership benefits will stay the same under the new model, including national and state recognition, exclusive networking opportunities, voting rights within KAEE, merchandise discounts, publicity through stories written and shared by KAEE, and coaching and consulting services.
And, of course, membership in KAEE connects you with fellow environmental education practitioners and enthusiasts from all over the state, giving you the chance to learn from, support, and be an integral part of the movement to advance environmental knowledge across Kentucky and beyond.
To learn more about becoming a KAEE member, visit our Member Center!
By Leigh Cocanougher
In the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape that is 2020, school administrators and educators are working unceasingly to ensure students, and the communities in which they live, stay healthy throughout the next school year. Knowing that they are already receiving guidance from numerous organizations and governing bodies--and also knowing how many benefits there could be to expanding outdoor education this fall--the North American Association for Environmental Education has just released eeGuidance for Reopening Schools, a new publication that offers support for schools and districts as they find ways to safely and equitably reopen for students this fall.
The guide includes strategies for adhering to physical distancing guidelines (such as using school grounds for outdoor classroom spaces) as well as advice for how school districts can engage community environmental and outdoor education programs as alternative resources for learning. It also shares ways administrators and teachers can tap into the expertise of environmental educators to support teaching and learning, whether in the classroom or at home.
To shape the guide’s recommendations, NAAEE Affiliate organizations (like KAEE) conducted more than 65 community feedback calls with hundreds of environmental and outdoors learning providers located around the country. Numerous members of the Affiliate Network contributed the guide, which offers dozens of specific recommendations for schools and districts to leverage the opportunities inherent in environmental and outdoor education programs and staff.
The guide stresses the many ways environmental and outdoor education programs can help schools reopen not only safely but equitably as well. “The outdoors is a resource for learning, engagement, and health, and it should be available to all, not just a privileged few,” the guide’s authors write. They spell out the growing inequities and increasing achievement gap caused by COVID-19 school closures and at-home learning, demonstrating why school districts should see this fall as an ideal time to embrace outdoor education.
“Experiences in nature and greater access to the outdoors is associated with reduced stress, greater mental and physical health, and well-being,” the guide says, and there “are many community resources that can help provide support. These recommendations can help school districts, teachers, and parents explore new ways of tackling these challenges and thinking about how and where students learn, and what sorts of partnerships that can best support a return to school that is not only safe, but contributes to a vastly more healthy and meaningful education.”
NAAEE’s eeGuidance for Reopening Schools is available online and delves into topics including
● Extending and Expanding Learning Spaces into the Community
● Using the School Grounds for Learning
● Supporting Teaching and Learning
● Creating Healthier Learning Environments
● Virtual Teaching and Learning
● Supporting At-Home Learning
You can access the complete eeGuidance for Reopening Schools here.
By Leigh Cocanougher
Despite the unexpected challenges that arose during their senior year at Fort Thomas Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, Colleen Epperson’s students left behind a legacy at their school through the help of a Kentucky Association for Environmental Education mini-grant, awarded to Epperson at KAEE’s most recent Outdoor Learning Symposium.
Epperson, who teaches chemistry and AP environmental science, used the mini-grant to build with her students an outdoor classroom at Highlands High. With the funds from the grant, they were able to purchase plants, bluebird boxes, and a trail camera; these materials and the class’s sweat equity allowed them to lay the foundation for an outdoor learning space that will be enjoyed for years to come.
With the onset of COVID-19 and the transition to virtual learning, the students were unable to complete all steps of the project, such as leading local elementary school students through some Project Learning Tree activities in the new outdoor space, but Epperson says she believes they are “well on our way to creating a safe and accessible space for outdoor learning.”
“There was a lot that went on over the course of the year,” she says, “although we will not be able to use the space until we are able to assemble again, hopefully in the fall. We were able to add to our existing rain garden new plants, bird feeders, milkweed, and other perennials, bluebird houses, and a clear trail through a field and forest that leads to a creek.”
The class also created a comprehensive photo journal for the Outdoor Classroom Project, which they are using to apply for Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools certification for Green Spaces.
Learn more about Highlands High and the school's commitment to EE here!
By Leigh Cocanougher
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.