At the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education annual conference earlier this month in Port Huron, 10 alliance members were honored for their work. Outgoing alliance board president Cindy Fitzwilliams-Heck said these award-winners have “devoted hours and careers to promoting environmental literacy in Michigan.”
Each year, five award levels are open to competitive nominations, including the two highest honors: the Julian W. Smith Outdoor Education Award and the William B. Stapp Environmental Education Award. This year’s winners include:
- The Julian W. Smith Outdoor Education Award went to Wil Reding, an instructor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University and owner of “Rent a Rambling Naturalist.” Reding earned the award for inspiring current and next-generation citizens to embrace learning in the outdoors by setting his own example of love for the outdoors.
- The William B. Stapp Environmental Education Award went to Kevin Frailey, the DNR’s Education Services director and formerly the director of Michigan’s Science Olympiad, adjunct science faculty at Lansing Community College, director of Information and Education at Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and conservation education supervisor at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Frailey and his staff have created programs that encourage educators to use the outdoors as their classroom, while meeting their science standard requirements.
- The President’s Award is given by the outgoing alliance president to the person deemed instrumental to the president’s success. Fitzwilliam-Heck chose Brittany Burgess, program manager at the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Burgess moved from president-elect to president of the alliance Oct. 7.
- The Recognition Award honors significant contributions to environmental education and outdoor education in a specialized area such as journalism, photography, curriculum development or interpretation. This year’s recipients were Mike Reed, curator of Informal Education at the Detroit Zoological Society, and Alan Heavner, owner/operator of Heavner Canoe Livery.
- The Appreciation Award recognizes those who’ve made significant contributions toward creating, delivering, managing or sustaining environmental and outdoor education programs. Heather Rawlings, a wildlife service biologist with the U.S. Department of Interior, earned this year’s award.
- Volunteer Service Awards honor those who give their time and skills for more than one year to a school, college, camp, outdoor center, zoo, nature center or other venue that promotes environmental or outdoor education. This year’s recipients were Greg and Michele Petrosky, Mike Mencotti and Larry Arbanas.
During the awards ceremony, 11 members were newly certified through the nationally accredited Environmental Educator Certification Program, an arduous, five-strand process: Eileen Boekestein, Becky Durling, Natalie Elkins, Zakiya Jackson, Christine Kelly, Misty Klotz, Mackenzie Maxwell, Amy Morrell, Rashmi Overbeek, Tracy Page and Lauren Westerman.
Questions? Contact Natalie Elkins, alliance awards committee chair, at 517-290-0687. More background on the alliance’s two major awards is available in the linked photo/info folder referenced in the bulletin intro, above.