Every year 1,000 people gather at the North American Association of Environmental Education’s (NAAEE) Annual Conference. The conference is preceded by a two-day Research Symposium and one day of Workshops.
This year’s conference was in beautiful Madison, WI where the leaves were changing, the Badgers were playing football, and everyone wanted to see what the deal was with cheese curds. I had the pleasure of spending six days in Madison at #NAAEE2016.
The week started with the Research Symposium, which is quite smaller than the main conference. The symposium was plentiful with friendly faces in the world of environmental education (EE) research. The topics of conversations and presentations revolved around EE and technology, eco-justice, diversity and inclusion in EE, climate literacy, green schools, early childhood EE, and much more. I presented a session on EE and party politics titled “Turning Red States Green: Bipartisanship in Environmental Education“. The session stirred up great conversation on politics and the role of funding in EE as well as some anecdotal evidence on red-state support for environmental education.
Intertwined in the Research Symposium, NAAEE puts on a day dedicated to workshops. Out of dozens of proposals, I was selected to lead a half-day workshop. The workshop, “How Does Your State Environmental Literacy Plan Measure Up: Evaluating and Revising ELPs“, was based on my dissertation research on Environmental Literacy Plans (ELP) as well as my work in the field on ELP advocacy. The session had several dozen attendees representing over 15 state affiliates. After presenting my research as the baseline for conversation, workshop attendees were able to break into small groups to answer questions such as “What is your state ELPs biggest hurdle/success?” and “What does a state ELP 2.0 look like to you?”. The workshop received phenomenal reviews.
Mixed into three more days of sessions, poster presentations, networking, and collaboration, was one more presentation. On Friday, I presented another session on Earth Day Network’s Green Schools project. The session focused on financing mechanisms for greening schools including the Community Reinvestment Act and highlights of the white paper that EDN staff are currently working on.
While I could continue to write about how wonderful, impactful, and inspiring #NAAEE2016 was, I will end this blog by saying—I cannot wait until #NAAEE2017 in San Juan next year!
Karena Mary Ruggiero, PhD
Director of Education
Earth Day Network