Awards of Excellence Winners!
On November 25 in Fernie we were pleased to present our Awards of Environmental Education Excellence to 7 amazing educators from across the Columbia Basin. Congrats to Leigh Cormier, Janet Kuijt, Natasha Burgess, Susie MacDonald, Dave Quinn, Shanoon Bennett and Lee-Anne Walker. Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us!
Shannon (Shanoon) Bennett
Shanoon is a master wonder-er. For nearly ten years now Shanoon has been leading Wild Voices for Kids presentations in the schoolyard and wilderness beyond: finding and sharing wonders of the natural world as expertly in the most innocuous spaces, as in the most breathtaking. By encouraging and fostering their natural curiosity, Shanoon helps her students develop an acute awareness of their surroundings, and a deep appreciation of the place they live.
Lee-Anne’s passion for a healthy environment is truly catching amongst her peers and the students she educates. A pioneer in the field of environmental education, Lee-Anne has catalyzed many projects and programs that have become household names in the Elk Valley and the wider Columbia Basin: CBEEN among them. Lee-Anne’s Wild Voices for Kids programs continue to be widely sought after, and to touch the hearts, minds and funny bones of students and teachers alike. Everything you know about Western Painted Turtles, you’ve likely learned, perhaps by some degree of separation, from Lee-Anne.
Susie is a WildBC Facilitator and CBEEN’s Wild Voices for Kids Program Coordinator – a program which she adopted from Parks Canada and expanded from one corner of one school district to the entire Columbia Basin region! Since she took the helm in 2008 she has helped to bring over 2000 environmental education programs to tens of thousands of students.
Leigh is an incredible Geography and Outdoor Education Teacher in Cranbrook. She fosters confidence in her students through teaching them important backcountry and outdoor skills. She is engaged in food security, climate change, species at risk, protected areas and outdoor education. She ‘walks the talk’ and takes her geography classes into the field in immersive place-based studies, and is on the school district Leadership Team for environmental education. Leigh is regarded as a leader in her field, and actively contributes to sharing her knowledge and skills with others. For these reasons and more, we are pleased to award Leigh with our 2016 Award of EE Excellence.
Janet is a teacher at Fernie Secondary School is the teacher sponsor of the Leadership Program. She has been a leader in supporting environmental education this region, actively supporting teachers through the district pro-d committee as well as through the School District 5 working group that is developing a district plan for environmental education. We look forward to Janet jumping on board to help plan the 2018 national environmental education conference which will be held in School District 5 in 2018.
Natasha is an energetic and enthusiastic leader who is influencing change well beyond her Kindergarten classroom. She is a leader in her school, school district and across the learning region. She has written a “Greening the Curriculum” document that links curriculum expectations to outdoor activities. She is also on her school district environmental education leadership team, has established a local chapter of the Environmental Education Local Specialist Association in her school district, and is a facilitator for CBEEN’s upcoming Leadership Clinic, as well as the 2018 National Conference. And to top that all off, Natasha was the winner of the 2016 National Environmental Education Teacher Award which she received at the national conference at the International Peace Garden this summer.
Dave has discovered and crafted a gift for storytelling. Though his own life experience is storied and captivating, it is the stories Dave tells about our natural world and its history that best illustrate this skill. Whether he is teaching about grizzly bears or endangered caribou, dehydrating backpacking food or digging through avalanche debris, Dave focuses in on the details that weave together the rich tapestry of nature and culture in the Kootenays. To call Dave’s stories transporting wouldn’t be fair, for they connect his students most strongly to the here and now.