Ky. has one of the nation’s best environmental education programs

Published 9:19 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2019

There’s a lot of environmental news I could write about today. I could write about how broken and insane our recycling system is. I could also write about climate change and how it’s a real and present danger and we aren’t doing enough to fight it. I could also write about how hard it is to have a kid while trying to avoid plastic waste.

I will write about these things, but not today.

I feel much more like spreading some knowledge and encouragement. I want to tell you about a program that has changed my life, and it could change yours too. I know it sounds like an infomercial, but — sorry, not sorry — this program is amazing, so just stick with me.

I want to tell you about the Kentucky Environmental Educator Certification Course. The training course used to only be offered every other year, but beginning this year, they are offering it every year. I was unable to participate in it for several years for various reasons, but I was privileged enough to be accepted into the course and graduated from the course this past spring.

The environmental educator course is offered through the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and is one of only three programs in the country that is recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education. The other two states that have nationally recognized environmental educator certification programs are Colorado and Georgia, so this is a big deal.

I have been interested in environmental education for a long time, even before I really knew there was a name for it and long before I knew there were professional associations and certification programs. Environmental education I think is hugely important to combating many of the environmental issues we face today.

This program is open to formal and informal educators, which means that you are in class with people from all over the state with a wide range of expertise. There is a lot to learn, not only from the class and presenters, but also from the other people in your class. It’s also a great networking opportunity. You get to meet with people you otherwise might not have had the opportunity to meet.

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.

If you are interested in becoming a certified environmental educator you can apply for the 2019- 20 course. You can find more information and apply for the program at bit.ly/KEEC2019-20.

The program has 15 open spots, so if you are interested, I’d apply as soon as possible. There is also a generous grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky that participants can apply for to help with financial costs.

In addition to certifying educators to be environmental educators, they also have a program with AmeriCorps called Environmental Education Leadership Corps. The EEL Corps members also go through the environmental education certification process and they also have a service site where they complete their service hours. If you might be interested in EEL Corps, preference is given to those who apply by July 30, so you should apply soon. More information about the program can be found at bit.ly/EELCorps2019-20.

The Environmental Education Certification course really taught me a lot and connected me with a network that is invaluable. I think that it’s important to have a network behind you because you are able to bounce ideas off one another and get help when you need it.

I’ve really been inspired and encouraged by all of the environmental education happening in the state because knowledge is a powerful thing. If you are interested in environmental education, I strongly suggest applying for the program.

About Amanda Wheeler

Amanda Wheeler is the children and teen services librarian at the Lincoln County Public Library. She has a master's in zoology education from the University of Miami and has taught as an educator at the Cincinnati Zoo.

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