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EnEd 580: Practicum in Teaching Environmental Education (Masters of Arts in Environmental Education-MAEE)
Graduate students join the Merry Lea Environmental Education Outreach team in the delivery of a variety of high quality environmental education programs to PreK-12 students and the public. MAEE students work to develop pedagogical skills, the habits of mind of an environmental educator, and broaden their depth of experience with diverse audiences.
My professional interests lie within organizational theory & structure, and leadership within these settings. With a background in Science Museums, nature centers, and informal science education settings, I am particularly interested in the intersection between the nonprofit sector and informal education. How does a working farm incorporate (or prioritize) educational programs into it’s work? What assumptions underly the staffing structures of a team of science educators at a nature center? I find these questions invigorating and stimulating for any practitioner in the field!
In addition to instructing in the Master of Arts in Environmental Education program, I also oversee Environmental Education Outreach at Merry Lea, which includes PreK-12 and public programs.
Each year, more than 4,000 local PreK-12 students participate in field trips at Merry Lea. Students participate in a range of activities, from dipping for macro invertebrates in wetland ecosystems, hiking along a glacial esker, or feeding livestock at our sustainable farm. Our team of educators work alongside graduate students to provide high-quality educational experiences to these visiting school children.
Merry Lea also offers a wide selection of programs to the public throughout all times of year. Some of our programs, like Enchanted Forest, have been offered on an ongoing basis for years. Other programs change annually, and may include food preservation, family pond explorations, literary hikes and others.
A recent area of investigation has been the implementation of a new Forest Kindergarten pilot program with Wolf Lake Elementary. This innovative model provides repeated, all-day experiences in a natural setting, providing a child-directed, inquiry-based approach to learning. We embrace the opportunity for students to face appropriate risk, and see students as co-discoverers of knowledge. The program was met with success in its first year, and we expanded the program to other school districts in 2018-2019.
World of Wonder International Nature-Based Early Learning Conference. Title: 10 trips to the Forest: Piloting a first-time Forest Kindergarten partnership. Aug 2018
Field trip session for Environmental Education Association of Indiana: Kinderforest at Merry Lea.Sept 2018