The setting for the 2011 WAEE Fall Conference was on a beautiful 440 acre wildlife refuge at Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt, Wisconsin, just 16 miles from Stevens Point. WAEE is no stranger to the Wisconsin Lions Camp as several fall conferences have been hosted there in the past and once again, it provided the perfect setting for a successful conference on November 3-5, 2011. This year’s conference theme was “Celebrating Wisconsin’s Environmental Education Partnerships.” And it was indeed a year to celebrate!
This conference offered a plethora of opportunities to learn, share, and network. A dynamic keynote speaker, David Rendall, kicked off the event with his highly engaging talk, The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness. He explained how to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Following Rendall’s “kick off,” 38 workshops, field trips, and concurrent sessions were offered to attendees. Exhibits including three exhibit socials provided time for sharing and networking on Thursday afternoon through Friday evening.
WAEE Awards Ceremony, Friday night, honored those from around Wisconsin who have made significant contributions to environmental education. Included in the awards ceremony was the Wisconsin School Forest Awards. Congratulations to the winners!
Earthguard Award: HOPE Science Club, Ben Franklin Junior High School, Stevens Point Area Schools
Non-Formal Educator of the Year Award: Eli Gottfried, Eau Claire Area Master Gardener Volunteer
Administrator of the Year Award: Paul Nistler, Brillion School District
Student of the Year Award: Tara Von Dollen, Aldo Leopold Nature Center, UWSP EE Masters Student
School Forest Awards
· Community Member of the Year: Mr. Tom Whalley, Tri-County School Forest, Plainfield
- Resource Professionals of the Year: Mr. Steven Holaday, Wisconsin DNR Forester, Dane County and Mr. Craig Williams, Wisconsin DNR Forester, Forest County
- Teachers of the Year: Mrs. Cheryl Steinbach, Granton School Forest, Granton, WI and Mr. John Rhude, Nicolet School Forest, Glendale, WI
Fitting with the theme of partnerships, it was a prime year to unveil three significant statewide, environmental education initiatives. At Friday at lunch, Wisconsin’s Plan for Environmentally Literate and Sustainable Communities was announced. This plan was created through an inclusive process over the past two years to create opportunities for all Wisconsinites to become environmentally literate. In conjunction to the overall plan, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced Wisconsin’s Plan to Advance Education for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability in PK-12 Schools. This plan provides Wisconsin schools with guidelines to create opportunities for students to increase their literacy in environmental and sustainability issues. And thirdly, the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education shared their work Cultivating Education for Sustainability in Wisconsin. They are creating a shared vision for Wisconsin to become a leader in Education for Sustainability in schools.
Special events included a wine and cheese social Thursday after the keynote address with special wine from a long-term WAEE Member, Pat Arndt and his Pine River Winery. Relatively new to WAEE was the mentorship program that was created to connect new members with “seasoned” WAEE members. It provided a way to network and welcomed newcomers to the event. Then the highly acclaimed WAEE Auction was back again and held on Friday night by another long-term WAEE supporter, Sterling Strathe, who brought his auctioning skills. This event brought in over $3,000 for student scholarships! New this year was the Black Bear Plunge. Seven brave members were nominated to jump into the frigid Lions Lake to help raise money for teacher scholarships. $330 was raised and only one lucky nominee was saved from having to jump in the lake – Congratulations Karla Lockman, WAEE Chair.
A thank you goes to all our 2011 sponsors including:
Watershed Sponsors ($5,000): Conserve School and the Wisconsin Green School’s Network
Raging River Sponsors ($1,000+): Alliant Energy, Didion, Plum Creek, Organic Valley, the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board
Stream Sponsors ($500): Wisconsin Environmental Education Foundation and the Wisconsin Envirothon
Babbling Brook Sponsors ($300): Acorn Naturalists, Environmental Resources Center, and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation
Groundwater Spring Sponsors ($100): The Izaak Walton League of America, Leopold Education Project, The Natural Conservancy, and Science Kit and Boreal Laboratories
Special Sponsorship: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources & Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Last, but not least, a special thank you to the hardworking and dedicated 2011 WAEE Fall Conference Planning Team: Jesse Haney, Jodi Hermsen, Karla Lockman, Jamie Mollica, Victoria Rydberg, Susan Schuller (chair), Dennis Yockers, and Carrie Ziolkowski. Thank you for organizing a wonderful and successful conference!!!