Presenting about the Chesapeake Bay and Bay Backpack at the NAAEE conference in Buffalo. Photo source: Kristin Foringer
I had the amazing opportunity a few weeks ago to take Bay Backpack to Buffalo, N.Y., for the North American Association for Environmental Educators (NAAEE) conference. I was so excited to be going to spread the word about the Chesapeake Bay and Bay Backpack that I began planning months in advance. I made about 70 fliers and bookmarks and brought sticky notes, pencils and Black-eyed Susan seeds, all with the Bay Backpack logo on them, to pass out to teachers and environmental educators.
Once I arrived in Buffalo, I realized that it may be a little more difficult to pass out these favors than I thought, since I had no table or booth. Did I let that stop me? Oh, no. I took to what my travel companion called “Guerilla Marketing.”
Wherever you went, you saw a Bay Backpack flier. They were in bathrooms, taped to trash cans, and doors, you couldn’t get away from it. If someone was thinking about picking up a brochure about places to eat in Buffalo, they wouldn’t miss my display of bookmarks and pencils laying out for the taking. I was determined to get the word out about Bay Backpack because I truly believe it is a great resource for teachers in and outside of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The best part of this type of approach was that I actually was able to meet people and network. What better way to start a conversation with someone than asking, “Did you see that Bay Backpack flier on the bathroom mirror?”
In all seriousness, I have been to five different conferences since I started at the Chesapeake Bay Program, and this conference was by far the most useful and educational for me. Everyone came from different backgrounds and incorporated environmental education into their professional lives in different ways. Teachers and educators were able to learn about new techniques and ideas to adapt for their own educational purposes. In just three different sessions, I found three guest bloggers to write for Bay Backpack, met new contacts, and came back with a few new lesson plans to share with you (check out some simple ones below)!
I would encourage all Bay Backpack readers to attend an NAAEE conference, or other environmental education conference in your area. You can find great resources and learn new techniques for incorporating environmental ed into your classroom.
Next year’s NAAEE conference is in Raleigh, N.C. Something similar, but more regional, is the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) conference in Hyattsville, Md. in February. Hopefully we will see you there!!
Lesson Plans From: Nature Explore (Early Education and Elementary School)
An example of a shoe flower pot. Photo source: Instructables
What You Will Need: Ask each student to bring in an old shoe that doesn’t fit anymore into school.
What To Do: Have each student plant a small plant in this shoe and sit them all along the window.
What Will this Lesson Do: This instills a sense of responsibility and pride in each student since they are responsible for taking care of their own plant or “shoe”.
What You Will Need: A different picture of a leaf or plant for each student, that resembles a distinct shape (hearts and stars are pretty common).
What To Do: Ask the students to look at their picture they are given and make the shape that they see in the picture with their body. Everyone’s pose should be a little different. You may want to ask a few students to come up and share their picture and show how they made the shape. Ask questions like, “How many leaves can you see in the picture?” “What colors are in the picture?”
What Will this Lesson Do: Allow the students to appreciate the details of nature.
Creating Art With Nature
What You Will Need: Pizza box, quick dry cement, plastic wrap, and pieces of nature to use as imprints.
What To Do: Take the pizza boxes and line them with plastic wrap. Pour in enough cement to reach the top and flatten it out. Quickly, have the students press leaves, sticks, rocks…etc into the cement and pull them out, leaving only their imprints behind.
What Will this Lesson Do: Create a fun and easy way to incorporate the environment into art classes.