Hitchcock Education Staff Attends Climate of Change Conference

By Colleen Kelley and Jessica Schultz

Climate of Change Graphic_croppedEach year the education staff at the Hitchcock Center (HCE) attends the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA) conference to present and strengthen our practice as environmental educators as well as network and build partnerships across New England. This year the conference, “Climate of Change” was held in Waterville Valley, NH on Nov. 8-10.

The theme drew upon references to the Earth’s climate changing around us, changes in formal education, social engagement, energy and communications, and strategies for response in the environmental education field. Conference leaders brought together scientists, communication experts, educators, students and many others to discuss and share ideas. Included in the conference, educators attended a full day workshop on ways to communicate climate change effectively.

Julie Johnson (HCE Executive Director) and Colleen Kelley (HCE Education Director) presented a workshop called, “Building for the Future”. It was a great opportunity to educate about our new “living” building and the Living Building Challenge. It served as a hopeful message of ways we can make and communicate change toward a better climate.

Hitchcock staff attended many workshops in the days to follow and returned with new curriculum ideas that fit with the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), new ideas on how to educate about climate change, and lists of contacts and partners for the year ahead.

Patrick1Hitchcock educator Patrick O’Roark was particularly inspired by a workshop on teaching engineering standards to children using beavers as an accessible animal. In fact, Patrick is working to adapt what he learned for an HCE program as early as spring of 2016. The curriculum would allow students to learn about the life history and dam building skills of the beaver, ecological relationships in their environment role playing in teams to work on problem solving scenarios. Patrick was particularly drawn to this curriculum approach because, “I love using animals as an entry point for learning science concepts and I feel that children get excited about animals too and it makes learning difficult concepts easier.” Patrick sees potential for this curriculum in Hitchcock Homeschool programs, as well as school programs and fieldtrips.

Overall our educators left the conference feeling hopeful, focused on solutions, inspired and empowered!

Colleen Kelley is an Education Director at the Hitchcock Center. She provides strategic oversight and direction of the Center’s comprehensive environmental education programs. She stays up-to-date with the best practices of environmental education and provides professional development to formal and informal educators in the field. Colleen also directs the Center’s internship program.

Jessica Schultz is Communication and Capital Project Coordinator for the Hitchcock Center. She guides on-going media relations, website and social media, publications, marketing planning and photography. She also supports the Executive Director and building committee in planning for a new environmental learning center.

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