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In 1972 a group of committed and concerned citizens -- both conservationists and teachers -- founded the Environmental Education Association of Illinois. Since that time, members of EEAI have provided leadership on this front at the national, state and community levels. The strength of EEAI comes from the involvement of its members. Their participation in state and regional events raises the profile of environmental education and challenges decision-makers to give environmental literacy higher priority.
2013 Conference: Environmental Education 101 - Success!
Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL
Planning a conference for a statewide organization takes a team of people, not a group of people, a team. The team donates many hours in the yearlong planning to create an amazing experience for all involved. Until the event concludes the team wonders if they have put together something that will satisfy the majority or if they unknowingly created the perfect storm.
The 2013 EEAI Conference has concluded with barely a rumble of thunder. I was witness to an amazing group of my peers who made the production of synchronizing activities, trips, meals, hotel, and much more look easy to the conference attendee who came, parked, played, participated, ate, drank, and of course left happy. The satisfaction that we were able to meet most needs of the group was well worth our time spent.
Thursday brought PLT-Growing Up Wild and Sarah Livesay to the Natural Resource Education Center in Russell Woods Forest Preserve for an all-day facilitator training. Meanwhile, at the conference site on the NIU campus participants were engaging in a Project Wet Educator or Project Wet Facilitator refresher course. In addition, we also had conference participants spread out in five other field trips around the county. At the end of the day they all gathered in the Husky Den for an evening of food, beverage, networking, and of course the infamous silent auction. Thank you to all who participated in the auction and supported our mini-grant program.
We started Friday with an awesome breakfast and big crowd. Our keynote speaker Becca Franzen, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, shared her insight on how we come to be who we are in the field of Environmental Education. She guided us toward recognizing what created our values within education and those crucibles that may have seemed like nothing at the time but made us the educators we are today. It was wonderful to have someone who does what we do every day speak with us and at the same time help us to appreciate and recognize the values we instill in all those we meet and teach.
Friday also offered 17 different possible learning opportunities. The comments I was hearing were positive and shared with an excited tone. One formal educator came out of the Next Generation Science Standards and said, “Finally, I actually get it. They have been going over this stuff with us at school over and over and she just explained it in a way I understand. I am going back to school and tell everyone else!” Way to go presenter Laura McCoy.
So that is that and we pass the torch to our East Central family who will offer the conference the last weekend in April 2014. Hold that date for another fantastic opportunity to learn and laugh with others of like mind. We are here if you need us…maybe wait a couple months as we are tired.
Submitted on behalf of the 2013 Environmental Education Conference Committee,
Peggy Doty, Northwest Regional Director