EKU Directors Certified as Master Environmental Educators
Melinda Wilder, director of the Division of Natural Areas, and Billy Bennett, director of the EKU Center for Environmental Education were certified as master environmental educators at a ceremony in Frankfort on May 14.
A total of 20 environmental educators from across the Commonwealth were recognized. All master environmental educators have completed the state’s rigorous Professional Environmental Educator Certification (PEEC) course and at least six subsequent years of continuing education. The course is offered by the Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
“I was a relative newcomer to Kentucky when I joined the 2005 PEEC course, and the networking opportunities provided to me were immeasurably beneficial,” said Elizabeth Schmitz, executive director of KEEC. “In addition to numerous resources and contacts, I gained a much better understanding of environmental education best practices – most importantly, the role of the environmental educator in illuminating the complexity of environmental issues without advocating for a particular viewpoint.”
The PEEC course, with over 150 graduates since the program was launched in 2004, is based on national guidelines designed to professionalize the field of environmental education by standardizing best practices. The Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education are produced by the North American Association for Environmental Education.
Since completing the certification course, Wilder and Bennett have become PEEC course instructors.
“Participation in KEEC’s Professional Environmental Education Certification program has allowed me to connect with other environmental educators throughout the Commonwealth who are committed to increasing the environmental literacy of all Kentuckians,” said Wilder.
Participants in the program are interested in educating others about the environment in both formal and nonformal settings such as nonprofit organizations, schools, parks, nature centers, extension offices, libraries and zoos.
“The Professional Environmental Educator Certification course is a worthwhile endeavor for both formal and informal environmental educators. The ability to share ideas between the professional communities of the various agencies and institutions represented at the training sessions is invaluable,” Bennett said.