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CAEE Teaching Outside the Box Conference

Posted in Bulletin Board

As the seasons here in the Rocky Mountains were changing from winter to spring, the entire ACES Ed team had the wonderful opportunity to grow and evolve by attending the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education’s annual Teaching Outside the Box conference at Denver University. Over the course of the two-day conference, ACES educators had the opportunity to both attend and lead workshops on topics such as multi-cultural education, integrating state standards into curriculum, primitive living skills, storytelling, and a wide range of other relevant topics to our education work.

The CAEE conference is the largest gathering of environmental educators in the state, and is a great opportunity for cross-pollination between the diverse educational organizations and teachers in the Rocky Mountains. Teachers, administrators, college students, and leaders from across the state come together each year for this conference.

One of the best aspects of the attending the conference was recognizing ACES' own powerful influence in education throughout the region. We met many former ACES educators and naturalists working in a wide variety of contexts and areas. We also learned that ACES has a respected, deep history in the evolution of environmental education in the Rocky Mountains. This was brought home for many of as we shared time with Oak Thorne, a grandfather of environmental education in Colorado, hearing his stories of Elizabeth Paepke ceremonially signing the deed at Hallam Lake establishing ACES.

Although we gained a great deal in attending workshops, the ACES Ed team also had a great deal to offer the conference. Our group of 10 was the largest representation by any one organization. ACES also led two very well-received workshops at the conference (Winter Tracking/Multiple Intelligences and (R)evolutionary Storytelling). Several enthusiastic participants at both workshops shared in feedback that “this was our favorite session of the conference!” Moving outside of the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond just working with young students, ACES continues to have a strong, positive influence on the professional development of teachers throughout the state.

Another fantastic and relevant aspect of the Teaching Outside the Box conference was the exposure to urban, multi-cultural, and bilingual education which takes places throughout our diverse state of Colorado. As Rock Bottom Ranch educator Maria Sabljak shared, “the programs in which I felt especially enriched by pertained to multiculturalism and looking into ways to incorporate environmental education across language barriers.”

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the entire experience was just getting out and about for a few days with the entire ACES Ed team. From watching great-hormed owls nesting in Denali’s family's backyard, to shared song over dinner, to simply road-tripping over the Rocky Mountains together, I believe our work team became a bit more of a family through this shared retreat.

To see photos from the conference click here.

~ Arin Trook, Education Director