Saturday, March 12, 2011

EEA Conference 2011

Notes from the EEA conference:
EEA Executive Director, Paul McLendon on the mission of the Environmental Education Allience of Georgia
"We want to build a statewide culture of environmental literacy and citizenship."

I'm with ya, Paul.

From songwriter Erica Wheeler (our entertainment at lunch):

"...see that moon out your window?
I'm under that same light.
Hear me whisper your name
- I'm prayin'
may our love be never-ending
as long as somewhere the wind still blows"

and (again thanks to Erica) a quote from a Georgia settler (no specific date given, but must have been early 1800s.):
"...I saw that interesting part of the state when all was
new-waters in the creeks and rivers as clear as crystal; rich valleys, hills . .
. . covered with thick forest. A land of beautiful flowers-white, pink, yellow
and red honeysuckle (azaleas), redbud, dog-wood blossoms, wild roses and many
others. The ground was covered with violets, sweet-williams (flocks), and other
beauties. There was plenty of wild game-deer, turkey, and other varieties. When
first seen, it was in lovely spring and I was nine years old."

Sean Beeching (from the website below.)

Best (and lamentably only) field walk: An after dark lichen walk with a UV flashlight led by Bob Hill of UGA. We saw the fluorescent lichens! Wow. Several lichen species give off a fluorescence when illuminated with these UV lights. You can tell the species by the color of fluorescence. The most fascinating thing was to listen to the incredible depth of knowledge exhibited by the wonderfully fascinated and articulate co-leader of the walk, Sean Beeching, as he discussed these widely ignored, strange, double organisms - part fungus, part algae. An amateur lichenologist, he has discovered previously undescribed species. Check out this link to see pics of Sean and his cohort at work play.

 Green Tree Frog (lifted from the internet)

It was good to enjoy again Tara Munez' presentation on amphibians. Our school has a special relationship with these critters  since our students  initiated the movement that resulted in the state adopting the Green Treefrog as the official Georgia Amphibian.

My Facebook friend and fellow "Triple Facilitator" Nikki Belmonte of the Atlanta Audobon Society taught a session on "Connecting Children and Communities to Birds". She led us through a little exercise that will be esy to use with our students to help them understand the odds our feathered friends face in their migrations. Unfortunately I had to leave the session briefly and realized when  I returned that I had missed the very thing I wanted from the session -- how to us the Backyard Bird Count with my students.

Eddie Anderson, an Atlanta videographer, presented some ideas for using technology in EE. He designed video podcasts for Arabia Mountain and Flat Rock Baptist and sared those with us.

Scott McMahan of Garden Hood gave advice on planting for school gardens.

My favorite moment in a workshop was the illustration by our teachers from the Atlanta Botanical Garden of the importance of going beyond simple identification in interpreting nature for students (or anyone). She exhibited a Mickey Mouse pocket watch and asked us to describe it. We did so in some detail - size, shape, material, etc.
 A similar watch lifted from hyperspace.

Then she told us the true story behind the watch, choking up a little, and bringing lumps to our throats as she described how her beloved father had come to be given that watch and the significance of the engraving on the reverse. It gave me chance to remind my student-teacher, who was sitting with me in the class, of why I put such emphasis on storytelling in teaching. However carefully and closely we examined that watch, I doubt any of us would be giving it any thought at all a day later had we not heard the story that goes with it.

And the awards...

• our own Kim Kilgore - Project Wild Facilitator of the Year
• The Georgia River Network, Environmental organization of the year (accepted by CRBI's Joe Cook.)

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