Posts Tagged ‘MAEOE’

Education, Awareness, and Action (MAEOE Conference)

March 6th, 2013

Guest post by Emily Drobenak, First Grade Teacher, Accokeek Academy, Schoolyards as Classrooms Project partner school

In February, I had the good fortune to attend the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, or MAEOE (may-o), conference. In short, this conference was a meeting of the minds towards the betterment of our planet and the people who live here. I, as well as members of the AFF and other local teachers, attended sessions focusing on education, awareness, and action.

My experience kicked off with a presentation by NASA Astronaut Richard R. Arnold II. What could be more engaging than a real live astronaut in his blue NASA jumpsuit? Astronaut Arnold spoke on the fragility of our great planet Earth. So often, we see the environment around us, but from space, you get a whole new perspective. While working on the International Space Station, you get the unique experience of seeing sunrise about 16 times a day. The photographs of these sunrises revealed just how thin a layer protects thriving planet Earth from the desolate space around us. We think of our atmosphere as many impenetrable miles of air, but it’s that thin wrapping that keeps our blues sparkling and our greens vibrant.

With that said, the urgency and importance of the conference seemed even mightier, like the weight of the world on our shoulders. However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a ton of fun! Throughout Saturday, I was engaged, motivated and enlightened. For me, the sessions on how to bring environmental and outdoor education into my first grade classroom were the most important. It took a simple shift in perception to see that nature does not steal time, nature enhances it. The common theme seemed to be that our over emphasis on tests, and common core, and homework has actually stolen time away from our children’s time spent outdoors. Being outside has so many physical, mental, social, and emotional benefits from which children are suffering a deficit. I grew up spending my days outside, and knew that my students were not having the same experience. Yet, I was blind to the fact that I could act and be a part of changing that for them.

After the conference, I feel the push to make my students equally aware of their environment right here in Maryland. Lions and penguins are common knowledge for most elementary age student, but so should the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s state parks and preserved swamp lands. As we increase our own awareness, we can educate our students and promote environmental ethics.

To sum it all up, what I took away from the conference is that when we all understand and make responsible decisions, we are promoting a better, brighter life for ourselves, and each other.

How to Win a Paddle and Save the World at the Same Time

March 5th, 2013

By Leandra Darden, Naturalist Associate, Alice Ferguson Foundation

As one of the newest members of the Alice Ferguson Foundation I had the privilege of attending my first Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Educators (MAEOE) conference with other members of the Alice Ferguson Foundation family. At the conference we were able to meet with our peers and learn about all of the exciting things that other Maryland educators and schools have been able to offer students in the last year. The Alice Ferguson Foundation was no exception, sharing with our peers our exciting Trash Free Schools program that helps guide schools to being more environmentally conscience as well as premiering our ideas for integrating education with the building of our new living buildings. We were excited to get some feedback as to the best way to get the students to understand and talk about energy and water consumption as they monitor their water and energy throughout their overnight trip to our farm. We were able to converse with people who have a better understanding of other green buildings as well as people who have great ideas about how to visually stimulate students into conversations and understanding. It was a great opportunity to learn from and share our ideas with our fellow outdoor educators.

But the MAEOE conference also gave us the opportunity to win the coveted canoe paddle.

Every MAEOE conference there is a challenge and this year it was to make an outfit made out of trash. People then voted on their favorite outfit and the winners became one the proud owners of a ceremonial, decorative canoe paddle. It was decided to bring the amazing poncho and bag made out of Capri Sun wrappers, since it is so colorful and fun. There was some tough competition, including a skirt made out entirely of cds, and dress made out of dog food bags. In the end, the fun Capri Sun colors, combined with our clever campaign of its functionality won out and we joined the illustrious few who have been able to call the paddle their own. By creating these garments we were able to keep some trash out of the landfill and reuse for a fun new purpose.

There are always new and exciting ways to reuse what we would normally perceive as trash. With a little repurposing, vision, and creativity something we were going to throw away could now be something we are going to give away. That is one way we can all save the world.