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Share, EEvolve, and Grow with Cottonwood Institute

Garden Puzzle

Cottonwood Institute had a great time attending sessions and presenting at the 14th Annual Teaching Outside the Box Conference in March 2014! As always, the conference was inspiring and rejuvenating, filled with sessions, roundtable discussions, networking opportunities, and celebrations.

Each year, the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education hosts the Teaching Outside the Box Conference. The conference provides a unique opportunity for environmental educators to rendezvous in Colorado to learn and share, in an effort to increase environmental literacy across all age groups. The year’s conference followed the theme “Share, EEvolve, Grow.”

Madeline Bachner, Katie Craig, and Melanie Goldbort presented a session titled “Lessons Learned from Creating a Learning Garden and Integrated Gardening Curriculum for High School Students”. Complete with fresh vegetables, discussions, collaborations, and a giant puzzle, their multi-media presentation was based off of the incredible integrated garden at New Vista High School. The session included a discussion covering why high schools in particular should garden with their students and offered a brief 7-step outline of how to create a garden at a high school. Presenters spent the bulk of the session focusing on how to integrate high school level curriculum into the garden. Melanie shared four lessons that she created with New Vista teachers: Pre-Calculus, Gothic Literature, The Hobbit, and Topics in Math. Attendees were challenged to create outlines for lesson plans that they could use in their own classrooms. With many schools and organizations focusing on creating gardens for elementary school students, the Cottonwood Institute session was particularly valuable with its emphasis on high schools.

Several Cottonwood Institute instructors also presented at the conference! Doug Hill guided a hands-on session called “Primitive and Survival Skills Workshop,” through which participants had the opportunity to learn and practice skills such as fire-making, cordage, weaving, and more. Deb Kulcsar led an interactive session titled “The EEssential Environmental Leader,” focused on using research from neuroscience to explore how educators can gain insights into motives, enhance their professional development, and grow along with the field of environmental education. Kristin Maharg’s session called “Speak Fluent Water,” explored how to interpret community water issues to make environmental education programs more easily accessible to diverse audiences. Tyler Edmondson guided a session named “‘No Elder Left Inside’ – Expanding the Diversity Conversation to Include Those Who Can’t Get Outside.” His discussion centered around populations that remain largely outside the conversation on diversity and inclusiveness, the elderly. They brainstormed new ways offering therapeutic and educational programs to individuals experiencing dementia and others in Assisted Living Homes. Cottonwood Institute is fortunate to have such unique and progressive individuals like Doug, Deb, Kristin, and Tyler, instructing programs!

After this invigorating conference, Cottonwood Institute is excited for their upcoming spring and summer programs!


Categories: Action Projects, Cottonwood Institute News, Updates

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