Maryland Coastal Bays

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MAEOE Conference and Programs Promote and Grow Environmental Education - February 1, 2015

Next weekend from February 5th to the 8th, the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) will have its annual conference, held this year in the Princess Royale Hotel in Ocean City. The conference is a chance for environmental and outdoor educators, researchers, resource personnel and scientists from all over Maryland and beyond to meet, talk, learn, and create new partnerships and contacts. This year is the conferences 30th anniversary and we expect to see over 600 attendees over the four days next weekend. 

This year the Maryland Coastal Bays Program is proud to help sponsor the 2015 MAEOE conference; to help us learn, share and create better ways to help serve our local communities and better educate about, and protect, the watersheds we live in. Other major sponsors for this years conference include: MAEOE, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, GreenPort of Baltimore, Living Classrooms, Cooper Waste Services, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, and Team Drake-Ambit Energy Consultants.

This year our keynote speaker for the conference will be Dr. J. Drew Lanham, a professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University in South Carolina. Dr. Lanham has taught at Clemson University for 17 years, and over that span has won awards as both a teacher and researcher. His main focuses are the areas of wildlife management, land and conservation ethics and field ornithology. He is a passionate naturalist, birder and hunter, as well as an award-winning broadcaster as a co-host for a birding and natural history broadcast on South Carolina ETV public radio. He is also a proficient writer; he writes poetry, stories and more which he shares on social media and his blog, Wild and in Color. 

The MAEOE conference is a great place to learn if you are an educator, researcher, scientist or someone who works in the environmental field. There are over 80 different sessions to go to, ranging in length from an hour to an all-day eight hour program. The topics covered in these sessions are extremely diverse; there are sessions ranging from wilderness first aid training, to learning how to use mobile apps to monitor biodiversity, to how to make connections to local communities via environmental and outdoor education, and more.

Apart from the yearly conference, MAEOEs mission is to help encourage, engage and empower the community to understand, responsibly use and promote the natural worldMAEOE provides professional development and resources to support providers of environmental education in schools, nature centers, and informal settings throughout the state, who then encourage students to explore, investigate and act. MAEOE also helps run the Maryland Green Center, Green School and Green Leaders program. 

Maryland green schools, green centers and green leaders are all interconnected programs that help to increase interactions between students, teachers, educators, experts and parents to promote a environmentally sustainable and educated community. The Maryland Green Schools Program (MGSP) provides educational opportunities and resources for schools that promote responsible environmental stewardship practices and increase awareness of how our relationship with the environment ultimately impacts public health and society.

The MGSP is nationally recognized and has grown immensely since its debut in 1999, with over 450 schools currently involved in the program. In order to become a Maryland green school, a school must first go through an application process aimed at recognizing and celebrating the environmental and sustainable achievements the school and its students have done over the past few years. While the application process can be daunting, Maryland green schools and teachers are not alone; both Maryland green centers and green leaders help schools with their applications and provide numerous resources.

The Maryland Green Center Program is similar to the MGSP however instead of recognizing schools, it focuses on organizations, programs and other environmental facilities. A Maryland green center focuses on; supporting schools in the efforts to attain, and maintain, Maryland green school status; modeling environmental best management practices at their building, site or other community areas, and helping to support community environmental learning and engagement. 

There are currently 38 different Maryland green centers across the state with two being located right here in Worcester County; The Maryland Coastal Bays Program and Assateague State Park. Both the MCBP and Assateague State Park work tirelessly to help provide professional development and resources to local teachers and schools, provide in-school and outdoor educational programs, work with schools, teachers and students to create and implement various service learning projects, support community environmental engagement, and much more. 

The Maryland Green Leader Program also helps to assist schools to attain, and maintain, Maryland green school status. Green leaders can be anyone who is interested in helping green schools, including educators, parents, community members or even students. Green leaders work with individual schools to help them complete their green school applications, help establish environmentally sustainable practices, work to connect schools to local experts, and help to secure funding for current or future projects. 

MAEOE is an amazing organization that helps to support environmental and outdoor educators along with the communities they serve. Its annual conference helps to bring different voices, ideas and thoughts together to help us expand our viewpoints to better serve our local schools, teachers, students and communities. Environmental education should play a key role in every student's life and, thanks to the work done by MAEOE and its partners, here in Maryland, it does. 

For more information about MAEOE, the conference, its programs and its partners please visit: www.maeoe.org

 

Harrison Jackson is the Coastal Stewards Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.  

 


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