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Wilson part of environmental education program for 35th straight summer

For the past 35 summers, Dr. Terry Wilson, Director of WKU’s Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability (CEES), has conducted a summer institute in environmental education at Land Between the Lakes (LBL).

Terry Wilson

Land Between the Lakes is a U.S. National Recreation Area located in Kentucky and Tennessee between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, which was created by President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s. Working in partnership with Murray State University and Dr. Joe Baust, Director of Murray State’s Center for Environmental Education, the summer institute was again held at LBL last month.

Thirty educators from both university service regions attended this year’s institute. Most of the participants were classroom teachers, but some of those attending work as “nonformal” educators, in facilities such as national and state parks. In addition, two participants came from Bogota, Colombia, to participate in this well-known event.

This popular residential experience has been offered annually for more than 40 years and Dr. Wilson has been involved for 23 of those years in his present position at WKU, and an additional 12 summers when he taught at Murray State.

The workshop uses much of the 170,000 acres at LBL as an outdoor learning laboratory. Daily and evening activities focused on increasing teachers’ understanding of both the natural and cultural world, with an emphasis on how to translate that knowledge and appreciation to PreK-12 students and other learners. The experiences emphasize instructional strategies appropriate for all facets of the school curriculum, ranging from science, social studies, math, languages arts, fine arts, health, physical education, business education, and family consumer science.

Singer Peter Yarrow (a member of Peter, Paul and Mary) performed at a summer institute for environmental education at Land Between the Lakes. (Photo by Debra Spillman)

Also each summer, the participants develop and implement an environmental service-learning project at the workshop site. This year the participants created a large Monarch Way Station, which is a series of special gardens designed to provide both pollination plants and milkweed plants, the only place Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs during their life cycle.

The summer institute also has a special celebration on the final evening of the week where the participants can share the things they have learned and celebrate their accomplishments. Singer Peter Yarrow, of the group Peter, Paul, and Mary, joined the group this year and performed many of the musical numbers that made the group famous.

“Having Peter fly to Kentucky to join us was a rare treat for everyone,” Dr. Wilson said. “His appearance added a special flair to a special week in my life.”

Contact: Terry Wilson, (270) 745-4671.

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