Advancing Environmental Literacy
This July, the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education’s Board of Directors approved the organizations’s new Strategic Plan, a plan with the vision of “a sustainable world where environmental and social responsibility drive individual and institutional choices” and the mission to “increase environmental knowledge and community engagement in Kentucky through the power of environmental education.”
To see the vision through, KAEE has its sights set on several goals, including advancing environmental literacy; increasing public support for and investment in the field of EE; reaching broader audiences; better telling the story not only of what we are doing but also why EE is so crucial for the future of Kentucky; and cultivating collective impact to create a stronger and more inclusive EE movement.
Just a month after the new plan’s adoption, progress is under way. In this first of a series of stories about the ways we are making said progress, we will focus on our organization’s plan to advance environmental literacy, not only in our own state but in the southeastern region—and across the entire country—as well.
One of the many ways KAEE works to advance environmental knowledge is through facilitator trainings. Held all around the state, these trainings allow teachers, nonformal educators, and others to become certified by KAEE to host their own educator trainings in one of our curriculum programs: Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project Wild, and Leopold Education Project. Whether they are working in the classroom, at a nature center, in a university, in the state government, or elsewhere around the state, our facilitators create a powerful network of educators who not only offer environmental education training to their community but help propel environmental literacy across the commonwealth.
“KAEE Facilitators are an amazing group of educators,” says Brittany Wray, KAEE Education Director. “They’re passionate, dedicated, and determined that everyone deserves environmental education. They are at the heart of the mission of our organization—delivering environmental education to Kentuckians.”
Another means of propelling environmental literacy in Kentucky is met through KAEE’s educator workshops. In June 2019, two such events took place—an intensive, three-day EE Bootcamp, where participants connected environmental education (EE), conservation, and natural resources with academic standards; and the annual Outdoor Learning Symposium, where more than 40 educators, administrators, and EE professionals from around the state spent the day learning how to effectively engage their students in outdoor and environmental education.
Through both facilitator trainings and educator workshops, KAEE is able to offer professional development opportunities directly to those “boots on the ground” who are working to advance EE in their own way.
Increasing environmental knowledge in Kentucky, though, is an ongoing task, so KAEE has plans (many already underway!) for meeting this goal using new and engaging methods. Want to learn more about them? Stay tuned for the second part of our Strategic Plan series!
By Leigh Cocanougher