To donate, please visit http://kaee.org/donate/.
In the 1970s, environmental education (EE) flourished in Kentucky, as federal funds were earmarked for environmental education, the state hired its first EE official, an advisory Council for Environmental Education was established, and, in 1972, the Kentucky legislature revised an existing Kentucky Conservation Statute to become the Environmental Education Act, with programs mandated in Kentucky's schools.
On July 30, 1976, the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education (KAEE) was formally organized. The first KAEE conference was held in February 1977. The conference, co-sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education with financial support from the Kentucky Humanities Council, launched KAEE’s continuing annual tradition of offering the premier professional development event for Kentucky’s environmental educators.
In 1984, Kentucky’s General Assembly repealed the mandate for environmental education. Since that time, KAEE has provided – primarily through volunteer time and effort – the most consistent representation and forum for EE in the Bluegrass State. While state agencies’ EE programming and priorities have waxed and waned, KAEE has maintained the push for a more environmentally literate citizenry.
In 1989, KAEE published the report, “This UnCommon Opportunity: An Environmentally Literate Kentucky.” As a result, the Environmental Quality Commission convened a special task force to study the issue and need for environmental education. This task force developed a series of recommendations, including one to introduce legislation to develop an environmental education council.
The Kentucky Environmental Education Council was officially created within the Kentucky Department of Education in 1990, and KAEE continues to partner successfully with this essential government agency.
KAEE’s contributions to EE practitioners have been varied yet reliable throughout these decades. The annual conference continues to serve as the cornerstone of KAEE’s networking and learning opportunities, complemented by an annual Sustainability Symposium, print and digital newsletters, an interactive social media community, funding (when available) and guidance to educators for professional development and classroom/site projects, and EE curricula workshops. KAEE partners on Project WILD and Project WET workshop facilitation, while providing state oversight and workshop facilitation for Project Learning Tree, Project Underground, and the Leopold Education Project.
KAEE’s principal achievements for 2015 include:
• Welcoming 150 educators to our 39th annual conference, “Full STEAM Ahead,” for more than 50 interactive and engaging sessions focusing on the content areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and agriculture and mathematics.
• Hosting the fourth annual KAEE Sustainability Symposium, highlighting the local food movement in Kentucky.
• Partnering with the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Kentucky Department of Education to facilitate the implementation of the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Plan.
• Accepting the role of statewide coordinator for Project WET and Project WILD.
As a small nonprofit with only two full-time staff, KAEE depends on donations of time, support, resources, and services. We can always use…
This profile serves as a
testament to the importance of the work we are doing and all that we have
accomplished in our 39-year history. We are thankful
for the support we receive from our dedicated members, donors,
supporters and partners, and we invite you to join our team!
The primary strength of KAEE is our vast network of members and volunteers - most notably the all-volunteer, working Board of Directors. In fall 2014, the Board developed a 2015-18 strategic plan, identifying new opportunities to promote the Association’s mission and determining existing initiatives to maintain. Committees were streamlined and better aligned with strategic goals. Policies and procedures have been updated or newly adopted to increase KAEE’s efficiency and effectiveness.
An additional organizational asset is KAEE’s flexibility to adjust to evolving practitioner needs – a flexibility made possible by our extensive collaborations and partnerships. Simultaneously, KAEE is challenged with the need to broaden our friends and funders to increase capacity. KAEE is already addressing this need by:
As we look ahead, KAEE’s main challenge is to inform Kentucky’s elected officials, governmental entities, school personnel, business and industry, and the general public on what environmental education is, and what it is not - emphasizing the Association’s and the field of EE’s non-advocacy stance on environmental issues.
An additional challenge is ensuring that KAEE serves all of Kentucky’s environmental educators, including those employed by or serving non-educational organizations, business, and industry. With Kentucky’s aging and increasingly diverse population, KAEE must avoid being defined as a strictly preK-12 association.
We thank you for your interest in, and support of an environmentally literate Kentucky.
As Kentuckians work to address current social and environmental challenges, our citizens need a healthy understanding of our natural environment and the interconnection between those ecological and our human systems. Unfortunately, recent research findings (2014) demonstrate adult Kentuckians’ lack of understanding in environmental knowledge that state education standards say should be mastered by the 4th grade (keec.ky.gov).
Educators throughout the state are diverse in audience, skills, methods, and message, but KAEE works to unite, empower, and assist those who share a vision of Kentucky similar to ours: an environmentally literate society committed to a sustainable future. Whether a formal PreK-university instructor, or a nonformal educator in a nonprofit organization, business/industry or the public sector, these environmental educators find commonality, professional expertise, invaluable resources, and a supportive network within KAEE.
In serving our members and Kentucky’s community of environmental educators, KAEE's work through 2018 is guided by five overarching strategic goals:
1) Provide quality educational programs and resources for environmental education (EE);
2) Build KAEE’s organizational effectiveness to support EE in Kentucky;
3) Build public support for and investment in EE in Kentucky;
4) Enhance the capacity and resiliency of the EE field in Kentucky and beyond; and
5) Increase the financial health of KAEE.
Through this near-term strategy of progress and growth, KAEE will continue to enrich and expand on our 40-year legacy of promoting environmental education and environmental literacy in Kentucky, by supporting the educators who administer the daily lessons and activities that are effective environmental education.
Providing quality educational programs and resources for environmental education (EE) in the state is the backbone of KAEE’s work for our member and fellow educators. KAEE has set its sights on the following strategies to this end:
1. Increase use and recognition of EE curricula (including Project Learning Tree (PLT), Project Underground, Leopold Education Project, Project WET, Project WILD) that model quality EE pedagogy and content;
2. Strengthen early childhood (EC) programming and opportunities around environmental education, utilizing the best practices of the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Early Childhood Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence and existing curricula such as PLT’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood curriculum;
3. Increase educational programming and opportunities for underserved audiences to become environmentally literate;
4. Support implementation of the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Plan.
KAEE recognizes that we must build our own organizational effectiveness to support EE in Kentucky, by:
In building public support for and investment in EE in Kentucky, KAEE will:
1. Serve as Kentucky’s liaison to the EE field at the regional, national and international level, disseminating best practices, research driven data and national trends;
2. Foster and support advocates and policies for EE in Kentucky and beyond;
3. Create a marketing plan which can tell the story of KAEE and why EE is so critical to the future of Kentucky; and
4. Enhance current awards program to more broadly recognize excellence in EE.
As part of a broad network of practitioners and supporters of effective environmental education, KAEE seeks to enhance the capacity and resiliency of EE in Kentucky and beyond, through:
1. Conducting a needs assessment of the EE community;
2. Assisting new organizations and programs focused on EE and/or supporting the expansion of existing organizations throughout the state;
3. Providing professional development opportunities for leaders of EE organizations/programs; and
4. Expanding networking opportunities for organizations and individuals with EE interests.
While our nonprofit professional organization status carries most of the weight of KAEE’s work, we must continue to increase the financial health of KAEE for the longevity of support upon which our members depend; consequently, we will
1. Identify new sources of revenue for KAEE;
2. Enhance the fundraising capabilities of our Board of Directors; and
3. Create a development plan for KAEE.
Created in 1976, KAEE is one of the country’s oldest associations supporting environmental education and the first affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), the continent's foremost organization in environmental education. This longevity has fostered a strong, close-knit community of educators with a rich depth and breadth of expertise and resources.
KAEE’s well-established network of hundreds of individual and organizational members includes representatives from local boards and state department of education, governmental staff from natural resource and related agencies, business and industry personnel, and non-profit organizations. The primary strength of KAEE is this vast network of members and volunteers - most notably the all-volunteer, working Board of Directors, comprised of 13 professional and dedicated EE practitioners from east to west Kentucky.
Executive Director (ED) Ashley Hoffman, one of only three KAEE staff, has served our community for six years, expanding the organization's capabilities, extending our reach, and broadening our professional network. Using her academic foundation in Nonprofit Administration (MS), Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (BA), and Education, she provides KAEE and Kentucky's environmental educators a well-rounded and broad perspective of guidance, innovation, and leadership. With nearly a decade in the environmental education field, she has served as educator, facilitator, trainer, and director, while continuing to improve her base of knowledge and leadership as a student and perpetual learner. Ms. Hoffman was recently awarded the international honor of Outstanding Individual by NAAEE.
As our programming and funding waxes and wanes, we occasionally hire temporary and contract part-time employees for targeted initiatives and program development. Currently, KAEE employs a part-time Communications Manager and recently hired a full-time Operations Coordinator in to begin in June 2016.
The educational principles that KAEE promotes were developed through the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, sponsored by NAAEE. As a proud affiliate of NAAEE, KAEE upholds standards of quality and best practices in our field and works to build capacity for EE throughout North America. Our ED holds multiple committee and leadership positions for NAAEE's Affiliate Network.
Regionally, KAEE is a leading member of the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA; collective of 8 southeastern states), and our ED currently serves as SEEA's regional Executive Director.
Since 1990, KAEE has collaborated with essential statewide partners, such as the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Kentucky University Partnership for Environmental Education.
KAEE serves as state affiliate for national EE curricula Project Learning Tree, Project Underground, Project WET, Project WILD, and the Leopold Education Project. We hold membership and network within the Society for Nonprofit Organizations, Center for Nonprofit Excellence, and Kentucky Nonprofit Network.
KAEE has taken on a number
of new programs and events this year, thanks in large part to the increased
support from our donors and members. Please read on to learn about each
of our new initiatives, which include mini grants for schools, new professional
development models, the implementation of the Kentucky Environmental Literacy
Plan and our awards recognition program, to name a few.
Already, work on each of our goals is progressing, some of which includes:
• Partnering to implement
the Kentucky Environmental Education Literacy Plan (KELP) which was adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education December
• Bringing special
recognition to KAEE award recipients at a KAEE Awards Gala.
• Hosting new friend and
fundraising opportunities, such as fundraising luncheons and other targeted
With our increased capacity,
we are also excited to have had the opportunity to refine the work of our part-time employee Karen Lanier to focus on Communications, as we hire on a new Operations Coordinator, Brittany Wray. Brittany brings the perspective of formal educator with a Master's in Middle Grade Education with a concentration in Environmental Education. Brittany will coordinate the project workshops and day-to-day operations so that KAEE may build its capacity to reach formal and non-formal educators effectively.
KAEE's annual conference is focused on advancing environmental education and environmental literacy. Over 150 educators join us for an opportunity to network, obtain resources and receive professional development from over 50 peer presentations, workshops, and offsite sessions.
Project Learning Tree is a nationally-recognized, award-winning program of the American Forest Foundation (AFF). AFF works with families, educators, and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. PLT uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. PLT helps educators teach the next generation what our environment provides and what it requires to remain healthy and sustainable for the future. PLT helps educators to teach critical thinking skills - so that students may learn “how to think, not what to think” about complex environmental issues, and problem-solving skills - to make informed choices about the environment. Using the PLT curriculum, educators help students master core subjects and improve academic achievement, while planting the seeds of stewardship in our next generation.
Project Underground curriculum teaches citizens of all ages about karst
topography and the management needs of karst resources. Project Underground
facilitators are qualified to provide trainings to other educators interested
in utilizing the Project Underground guide, in a train-the-trainer fashion.
Due to the state's limestone geology and climate, Kentucky has a large
number of caves and cave systems. The health of our caves and karst systems is directly interdependent to clean groundwater system - and consequently, our drinking water system. Kentucky is home to some of the
highest diversity levels in the nation for salamanders, aquatic organisms and
other cave-dwelling species. A recent discovery is the spread of the dreaded White-Nose
Syndrome in our state's bat populations. It is now more important than ever
that we educate our citizens on cave and karst systems and the need to protect
The KAEE Sustainability Symposium is a one day event that moves around the state, highlighting local initiatives and experts in the field. Sustainability is an integral part of KAEE. Teaching about the environment requires that we also educate about the social and economic implications of the environmental decisions we make. Similarly, we also need to teach that our social and economic decisions have environmental impacts. The symposium provides an opportunity to explore the connections between sustainability and environmental education.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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499 East High Street, Lexington, KY 40507