Annual Colorado Association for Environmental Education Conference
On March 10, seven members of ACES’ education team traveled to Denver to attend the Colorado Association of Environmental Education (CAEE) annual Advancing Environmental Education Conference. The conference is two packed days of team building, networking, idea sharing, and professional development with other environmental education organizations and individuals in Colorado.
ACES has sent members of its education team to the CAEE conference for many years to learn from others, share our expertise, and build relationships with environmental educators and organizations across the state. I first attended the conference in 2015. I had just recently accepted a position as an Summer Naturalist at ACES and was eager to seek out my future co-workers who were attending the conference. This year, ACES Educators continued to develop relationships with nearby organizations (Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and Walking Mountains Science Center) as well as many organizations throughout the state.
ACES education team also benefits from the professional development opportunities at the conference. Sessions on citizen science projects, teaching with live animals, and addressing racial inclusivity, amoung others, offered new ideas, expanded our awareness of current projects and issues in environmental education, and provided new ideas for incorporating what we learned at the conference into our work in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Finally, two ACES Educators, Dustin Hall and Matt Thomas, presented at the conference, sharing ACES’s curriculum and their personal expertise with Colorado’s environmental education community. Dustin’s session discussed how to strive for sustainability with examples from ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch. He also had conference participants calculate the food miles for a smoothie they made in our bike blender. Matt’s workshop discussed the simplicity of incorporating scientific research into the classroom. He presented the Water Quality tests that are part of one of our 4th grad units, as well as forestry and wildlife studies that he’s incorporated into various areas of ACES curriculum.
While the CAEE conference is only one of the many ways in which the education team seeks professional development, it is a valuable way to grow as an organization and as part of the environmental education community in Colorado.
~ Lauren Deriaz, ACES Educator