Environmental Education 
Association of Indiana


Speaker bios


Session 1 (Friday 1:30-2:45 pm)

Vera Vander Kooy – Nature and STEM – the Perfect Match

Nature stimulates all of the senses! When the senses are engaged, meaningful learning occurs. Join us to see how the 2016 Science Standards, Environmental Literacy Guidelines, engineering concepts, and math skills, along with the use of technology, can be incorporated easily into STEM and nature opportunities. Get hands-on and try out some model lessons. Also, strategies, literature connections, tips for success and lessons will be shared with all participants.

Tom McConnell, Tolly Foster, Michele Schilton – Conservation Educator Academy at the Indianapolis Zoo

The Conservation Educator Academy at the Indianapolis Zoo is a teacher professional development program developed in a partnership between the Zoo and Ball State University. The CEA helps teachers learn about conservation work at the zoo, then connect lesson plans about local conservation needs to standards.

Mindy Murdock – Developing a Sense of Place through Urban Environmental Education

Environmental education is no longer only about taking children outside the city to experience pristine nature. Instead it is crucial that environmental education focus on the urban ecosystems and urban biodiversity, ecosystems services and the connection between the built and natural world of cities. We will explore what sense of place means within the urban landscape and provide some thoughts on how to foster that sense of place.

Carla Gull – Creating an Outdoor Classroom

Interested in creating an outdoor classroom? Explore options for creating outdoor learning space, low cost options, and the process for certification with Nature Explore.

Session 2 (Friday 3:00-4:15pm)

Mindy Murdock – Oh Those Preschoolers! Is Your Program Age Appropriate?

Positive outdoor experiences for young children play a critical role towards shaping opinions and placing values on nature. Connecting children with these programs requires an understanding of developmental stages and the limitations and opportunities the stages offer. This program will explore the developmental stages of birth – 5 years and examine various developmentally appropriate practices.

Jane Litwiller – Gender and Family Inclusive Language and Practices for EE

This session will help participants understand ways we, as educators, can foster more inclusive spaces for the learners we work with, through careful language and intentional practices. The session will primarily focus on inclusion related to gender and family structure, however, the participatory nature of this session will provide opportunities to explore inclusive practices for additional identities most relevant to the audiences serve.

William Smith – Work, Study, and Play in Environmental Stewardship via CIMBY

Calumet is my Backyard (CIMBY) is helping Chicago’s south side and northwest Indiana high school students become the next generation of environmental leaders. CIMBY strengthens and connects the Lake Calumet region’s human and natural communities through place-based education and stewardship, while improving academic success.

Session 3 (Saturday 10:30-11:45 am)

Clint Kowalik – Take it Outside: Strategies and Tips for Teaching Outdoors

Learn the pros and cons of teaching both indoors and outdoors, review considerations to keep in mind when teaching outdoors, and discuss how the outdoor context influences the lesson from both a student and teacher perspective. A biodiversity activity will be demonstrated indoors and out, and the influence of the setting discussed.

Elizabeth Tompkins – Nature Days – Nature Days - Planning and Implementing Large Group Programs

Bloomington’s Nature Days are grant-funded, day-long, experiential, outdoor education programs designed for 4th and 6th grade students. Approximately 100 students participate on each of the 18 days. Programs take place at city park properties and cover a variety of topics, including karst topography, wetland habitats, creek health, forestry, aquatic organisms, and woodland habitats. Learn the logistics of implementing a large group program from coordination, lesson plans, volunteer management, and implementation, to evaluation.

Angela Burgess – Integrating Citizen Science Mobile Apps for Environmental Education

This presentation will introduce environmental educators to citizen science mobile applications that can be used within their available environment to engage students and the general public with the natural world. The history if citizen science and evolving technology will be reviewed, along with a fundamental understanding of the theory of citizen science. Specific apps will be introduced, along with how to modify and create projects, and activities to explore the functionality and flexibility of the platforms.

Tom McConnell, Barbara Giorgio-Booher, Kamal Islam, Sami Pfaff, Clayton Delancey, Garret MacDonald, Sierra Hensley, and Brooke Babrek – Conservation Tales: Environmental Education with Diverse Characters for Young Readers

This session introduces the first 2 volumes of Conservation Tales, a new series of books for children in grades 3-5. These books offer stories of children learning about the science and conservation efforts involving endangered species. The characters in the books present diverse role models and demonstrate the type of science process skills students can develop in order to do field research.

Session 4 (Sunday 9:00 -10:15 am)

Jen Smith – Wildlife in the Woods

Bradford Woods, IU’s Outdoor Center, has been providing residential environmental education programs for 60 years.  Come learn about one of BW’s module focusing on learning about wildlife in your own outdoor classroom.  Activities focus on observations of tracks, scavenger hunts, predator and prey relationships, and creating habitats.

Skye Greenler – The Great Clearcut Controversy: An Inquiry Based STEM Unit

Follow up on the Hardwood Ecosystem and Ameriflux field trip with this inquiry-based unit for middle-school students using real data to learn about how different animals respond to various forest management practices. The unit incorporates the grade 6-8 Science and Engineering Process, Science/Technical Studies Content Area, and Science Content standards.

Kathy Boone and Zevon Adkisson – Integrating the Indiana Junior Master Naturalist Program into the Curriculum

Harmony School’s 5/6 grade class curriculum was dedicated to the theme of environmental education in general and the Indiana Junior Master Naturalist certification. The presenters will discuss and demonstrate their experiences and plans for next year’s curriculum, how they added to the basic IJMN program, and observations about how the program affected student, parent, and teacher participation and outcomes.

Elisa Pokral - Sacred Heights Session 1- How Do I Get to Who I am and where I want to be at Any Age: Strategies to Co-create, Revitalize, and Make Things Happen on Your life Path

Participants will address their sacred self’s search for their life direction in helping earth and humanity, identifying where they can be most happy and fulfilled. This session will include guided meditation, with proposed questions, journaling and sharing, and some simple Chi Gong movement, all meant to connect participants to who they really are, to improve listening skills, and to help them on their soul journey. You may want a blanket or pillow to sit on.

Session 5 (Sunday 10:30-11:45 am)

Stephanie Schuck – Citizen Science Projects in the Classroom and Beyond

This presentation will discuss what citizen science is, how citizen science is conducted with all ages at the 55 acre Nina Mason Pulliam Ecolab, what others are doing with citizen science, and how to use it in and out of the classroom. Bring your mobile device to try out some free citizen science applications. A few iPads will be available.

Susan Snider Salmon – It’s Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – What Can We Do to Keep it That Way?

Mr. Rogers invited each of us to be a neighbor. This session will focus on a personal transition from learning how to take the first step, build basic skills, craft a dream, and implement the beginning stages of a plan to outwit invasive plants in one neighborhood. Explore the challenges of investing a community in the time and energy to make a better environment for all, next door neighbors or distant friends.

Carol Cavell and Nancy Eagle– Introduction to Trees Indiana’s Woodland Trails Guide

Trees Indiana is producing an adult training manual, the Woodland Trails Guide, for eligible individuals to become facilitators of urban forestry programs in their communities. The purpose of the guide is to provide teachers and community leaders with a foundation of strategies and activities to help youth explore and appreciate the outdoors. Project Learning Tree activities are integrated into the guide.

Elisa Pokral - Sacred Heights Session 2: Story Board Visions: Techniques for an Empowered Life – Vision Board and Treasure Mapping

Use techniques of visualization, affirmations, and addressing “resistance”, which stops people from getting what they want and enhance the ability to reach goals or aspirations. Explore your visions, fantasies, limitations and fears. Participants will create a vision board and affirmations and be introduced to other ways of calling into your life what is right for you. You may want a pillow or blanket to sit on.

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