The annual Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education Conference was held in Ocean City Maryland February 3rd-5th, 2023. The theme of the conference this year was Be Green, Learn Green, Live Green.
What does it mean to Be Green?
Green is a term used for being environmental friendly. It refers to keeping our earth healthy and clean. Being green means respecting our environment by keeping it clean and not leaving trash around, while using our resources in the right way, without wasting them.
MAEOE is a wonderful organization that helps schools in Maryland to be Green Schools. This is my school’s 4th year recertifying as a green school. In order to do the application for our recertification we have to collet data on how our school is green! The MAEOE conference is one way that I bring back information and ideas on ways our school can thrive in being green.
Landscape Design for Nature Educators
The first workshop I attended at the conference this year was a landscape design workshop! I was super excited about it because as an art educator, I haven’t had much learning about landscaping, planting or designing gardens. Though as the green school coordinator, who has won a few grants for our school for environmental projects, it would greatly help me plan for outdoor gardens at our school.
I learned so much from this workshop. The presenters gave us all a folder of information about native plants, which shared when to plant and where. We also learned a lot about how to work with the stakeholders at our school, because it is a team effort to keep these gardens going.
Another amazing workshop was about dealing with the anxiety and grief that can come from the state of our ecosystem. It is vital to grieve… to release the ideas we have of what we expect. We come at the world with a negativity bias, which helps us survive through lifetimes. But it is important to see into the present moment… using nature to help us regulate our emotions in the now. We can visit the past and the future, but we should not live there. Practicing gratitude intentionally. We created nature mandalas and did a thought experiment called Future Beings! Such a great session.
I am excited that I get to be apart of such a wonderful team of people who love spending time with nature, and really see the value of connecting with the earth. Being the green school coordinator at my school allows me such amazing experiences and opportunities to learn more ways to remind people we are all connected. I love making connections at these events, because it allows us to create better experiences for our students while working with other passionate educators.