HAYS, Kan. – A Fort Hays State University staff member has been recognized by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) for overcoming the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in environmental protection. environmental education.
Mandy Kern, Program Specialist at FHSU’s Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC) near Great Bend, received the new KACEE Pivot Award. This unique award category honors individuals, groups or organizations that have demonstrated exceptional adaptability in delivering environmental education programs despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Curtis Wolf, director of KWEC, said Kern has gone above and beyond over the past 19 months to ensure its environmental education programs will continue.
“I’m happy to see Mandy being recognized for her hard work,” Wolf said. “As Mandy’s supervisor, I absolutely believe she deserved this award.”
Kern developed new programs and changed delivery methods to virtual options, including a virtual tour of Cheyenne Bottoms. Kern also wrote a children’s book with additional curriculum material.
Its Cheyenne Bottoms virtual field trip allows educators to use interviews, virtual reality videos, and real-life drone footage to teach about the Cheyenne Bottoms. It gives students from area schools the chance to visit virtually when they can’t do so in person.
It also allows environmental educators outside the local area to explore the wetlands, providing greater opportunities for people in Kansas and beyond to learn about the significance of Cheyenne Bottoms.
Kern was nominated for the award by Dr. Matthew Clay, assistant professor of teacher education at FHSU.
“I am honored to have been nominated for this award by a colleague I respect and enjoy collaborating with,” Kern said. “Dr. Clay does a great job with his students, preparing them for a future in science education, and has done a lot of pivots on his own over the past year.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center, affiliated with FHSU’s Werth College of Science, Technology and Mathematics, is located 10 miles northeast of Great Bend in the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Preserve. More information can be found at wetscenter.fhsu.edu.