Michigan’s top environmental and outdoor educators honored

LANSING, MI – The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education recently honored several Michigan educators for their work in bringing science and nature to students in the classroom and to the public Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education – through other creative outlets. The honorees were recognized at the alliance’s annual conference in Sault Ste. Marie Saturday, October 10th, 2015.Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education

“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 Anne Jeannette LaSovage, outgoing president of the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education and a teacher at Southfield Lathrup High School.

Taking home the alliance’s two most prestigious awards were Pete Stobie, formerly of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Lisa Appel, formerly of the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Outdoor Educator of the Year

Stobie, who recently relocated to Pennsylvania, was on hand to receive the Julian W. Smith Outdoor Educator of the Year Award. A graduate of Northern Michigan University, Stobie spent 19 years as a certified heritage interpreter and, eventually, education director at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

Kevin Frailey, Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education awards chair and education services manager at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said, “Pete’s outgoing style and use of props and puppets made him a Michigan legend, one who has positively influenced thousands of school children and families.”

An entertaining educator, Stobie also had received numerous past awards from the National Association of Interpretation. Stobie said he was honored to win an award named for Julian Smith, a longtime professor at Michigan State University and who, according to Frailey, “enabled Michigan to become the undisputed leader in the development and implementation of outdoor education in the 1950s and ‘60s.”

Environmental Educator of the Year

Lisa Appel, who recently relocated to Oregon where she serves as the environmental outreach manager for the port of Portland, picked up the William B. Stapp Environmental Educator of the Year Award. Appel, like Stapp, was instrumental in the development of aquatic education programs for youth.

While at Cranbrook, Appel assisted or led the development and coordination of the Rouge River Water Festival, the “Water on the Go” outreach program and a monthly online newsletter “Freshwater Forum.” She served on the board of directors of both the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education and the Michigan Nature Association. Appel graduated from the University of Michigan, where Stapp served as a longtime faculty member. Stapp’s name is internationally linked to the development and advancement of environmental education.

During the Sault Ste. Marie event, the alliance also honored several other Michigan educators as follows:

Recognition Awards

Mike Reed, of the Belle Isle Nature Zoo – for 25 years of service providing environmental education in the metro Detroit area. Reed’s work on Belle Isle, and in Detroit-area schools, has left a positive impact on thousands of K-12 students and their families.

William Hodges, science teacher at Holt High School, for his long-serving dedication to use the outdoors as a classroom and creative methods to keep his students engaged in science. From raising salmon and lake sturgeon in his classroom to monitoring turtles and wildlife on school grounds, Hodges always has students involved in hands-on learning.
Appreciation Awards

Ed Shaw, at the DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac – for his elevation of outdoor education programming in the Cadillac area, as well as at other statewide sites including the Boardman River weir in Traverse City. Shaw recently developed an Outdoor Skills Academy, providing a welcoming way for novice outdoorsmen and women to gain confidence in their skills.

Cheri Leach, the co-founder and CEO of Raven Hill Discovery Center near East Jordan, Michigan – for the development of a popular, multidisciplinary program connecting nature education to art and history. Leach, a Michigan certified teacher for the past 46 years, and her programs at Raven Hill connect residents of the northwest Lower Peninsula to high-quality science programs, using the outdoors for her classroom.

Brian Cressman, a freelance herpetologist and educator – for his consistent contributions to Oakland County Parks over the past six years. Cressman has been instrumental in educating Oakland County Parks visitors about native Michigan snakes, particularly Michigan’s only venomous snake, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
Volunteer Awards

Ken Bucholtz, with the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen – for his design of shooting mechanisms to assist hunters with disabilities. Bucholtz, from Escanaba, also has organized dozens of volunteers to teach archery and fishing at the DNR’s Pocket Park in Escanaba.

Dwayne Badgero, who has led the annual butterfly count and educated hundreds of visitors to Oakland County Parks on a volunteer basis for eight years. Badgero shares his knowledge of these species to children and adults throughout Oakland County.

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