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CLK Elementary School Teacher Among Those Honored Helping The Environment

CLK School’s Barb Kinnunen-Skidmore was among the teachers honored at the annual conference for the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education earlier this month.

Recipients of 2017 awards from the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education included (pictured L-R): Francis Majszak, Ed Becker, Jereme Vanden Heuvel, Jody Harrington, Dorothy McLeer, Gwen Botting, Claudette Wizniuk and Kathleen Klein.

Kinnunen-Skidmore is an early childhood specialist at CLK Elementary in Calumet.

Regardless of the season, Kinnunen-Skidmore believes students, especially kindergarteners, should be outside – never too early, or too cold, to snowshoe or play on the nature playscape with boulders and logs.

These and other outdoor accessories are due to her persistent grant writing and community relationships.

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education is a professional association supporting and advancing environmental and outdoor education statewide.

Here is the full press release the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education earlier this month honored several Michigan educators at its annual conference at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

“We are very proud of the contributions these individuals have made to improve Michigan’s environment by reaching thousands of citizens with positive messages and education,” said Ashlie Smith, the alliance’s outgoing president and head naturalist at the Farmington Hills Nature Center.

The alliance’s highest recognition in 2017 went to:

Jody Harrington, an employee at the E.L. Johnson Nature Center in Bloomfield Hills, has spent most of the past 30 years connecting people to nature. As a classroom teacher in Southfield, Harrington once integrated environmental education throughout her lessons. Today, her love of gardening has been integrated into lessons at the E.L Johnson Nature Center. Her past volunteer work includes time spent as treasurer for the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education.

Gwen Botting, executive director of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind in Ionia, whose energy and dedication have enabled that group to do amazing things for visually impaired children. Botting has incorporated nature-related outdoor education into lessons that make a trip to camp the adventure of a lifetime. Campers learn to make campfires, cook, hike, camp, canoe and more, building self-reliance and confidence along the way.

Other Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education awards included three appreciation awards to:

Kathleen Klein, community relations representative at Waste Management in Wixom. Klein steadily exhibits the traits of an environmental educator by bringing real-world issues to the public and making them relevant to daily life. She manages wildlife habitat certification programs for two landfills in southeastern Michigan and conducts dozens of outreach programs each year.

Jereme Vanden Heuvel, camp director at Camp Tuhsmeheta in Greenville. Operated by the Michigan Department of Education, Camp Tuhsmeheta provides the ultimate outdoor experience for those with visual impairments. Vanden Heuvel creates at atmosphere of learning, safety and confidence for all campers, whether leading children on hikes or the climbing wall.

Barbara Kinnunen-Skidmore, early childhood specialist at CLK Elementary in Calumet. Regardless of the season, Kinnunen-Skidmore believes students, especially kindergarteners, should be outside – never too early, or too cold, to snowshoe or play on the nature playscape with boulders and logs. These and other outdoor accessories are due to her persistent grant writing and community relationships.

The alliance also gave volunteer awards to:

Francis Majszak, Carl T. Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac. Majszak loves to teach others how to enjoy the outdoors and assists by volunteering at ice-fishing clinics, shooting clinics and anything else needed at the center.

Winnie Chrzanowski, Oakland County Parks. Chrzanowski is a grasslands bird monitor, Project FeederWatch observer and frog survey participant. In her spare time, she also volunteers for Clinton County Watershed Council, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Oakland Audubon.

Ed Becker, Bay City Recreation Area. A retired high school teacher from Saginaw, Becker has been a continual presence at the park where he brings urban, disabled teens to learn how to fish and assist in park stewardship projects. Whether building bird houses or self-esteem among children, Becker works to be a positive influence on children and the park.

Brooksie Pollack, Oakland County. Putting her Michigan Conservation Stewards Program training to work, Brooksie volunteers as a nest-box monitor and frog survey participant. She also assists in the inventory of vernal ponds and mentors other Conservation Stewards Program students.

In addition, the alliance recognized two graduates of the Michigan Environmental Education Certification Program who presented their capstone projects at the conference. They are:

Claudette Wizniuk of Shelby Township and Dorothy McLeer of Dearborn. Wizniuk’s final project was “Clinton River Watershed – Recovery of Michigan’s Rivers.” McLeer’s was titled “Combatting the Extinction of Experience – Introducing Youth to the Real World Outdoors.”

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education is a professional association supporting and advancing environmental and outdoor education statewide. Learn more atwww.maeoe.com.

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