Oklahoma Environmental Education Coordinating Committee (OKEECC)
HISTORY OF OKEECC
Projects & Programs
CLEAR (Certified for Leadership in Environmental Awareness and Responsibility)
Environmental Education EXPO
Guide to Community Environmental Improvement and Beautification
H2Oklahoma Water Festival
Seeds of Success
CLEAR (Certified for Leadership and Environmental Awareness and Responsibility) is an environmental audit tool for schools developed by the OKEECC in the early years of the Committee. The program is designed to enable a school to self-evaluate its level of environmental leadership, awareness and responsibility. It has been available on-line for the past three years for use by students and teachers who are interested in ?greening? their campus. It contains a survey of 100 questions designed for the development of an overall picture of how a school measures up on environmental concerns such as water and energy conservation, school chemical use and waste reduction, as well as environmental education activities such as Projects WET, WILD and Learning Tree. This tool has been distributed by members of the OKEECC at many teacher conferences such as OEA and OKAEE's EE Expo.
In 1995, the OKEECC began working with the Oklahoma Association for Environmental Education (OKAEE) to establish an annual environmental education conference for teachers in Oklahoma. OKEECC members were instrumental in creating, planning and conducting the Environmental Education EXPO for the first four years. After the fourth conference, OKAEE elected a conference chair for the EXPO from their membership. OKEECC continues to support the EE EXPO financially & by participating at the conference as exhibitors and presenters.
The first EE EXPO was held on February 23, 1996 at MetroTech in Oklahoma City. The theme for this first conference was "Moving People to Action." Dr. Bill Hammond, founding member and professor at Florida Gulf Coast University College of Arts and Sciences, was the keynote speaker. 275 people attended the conference.
The second annual EE EXPO was held on February 28, 1997 at Union High School in Tulsa. The theme for the conference was "Environmental Education in Oklahoma" and Jane Goodall was the keynote speaker. More than 750 people attended the conference.
The third annual EE EXPO was held on February 13 and 14, 1998 at the Center for Environmental Initiatives Hands-On Training at Fort Sill. The keynote address was given by John Cronin, co-author of The Riverkeepers and internationally recognized pollution fighter. More than 550 people attended the conference.
The fourth annual EE EXPO was held on February 12, 1999 at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. The theme for the conference was ?Making Connections.? David Sobel, Director of Teacher Certification Programs at Antioch New England Graduate School, was the keynote speaker. Over 350 people attended the conference.
The EnvironMentor newsletter has been keeping the environmental education (EE) community informed about EE workshops, events, resources, grants and more since February of 1997. A calendar of events developed cooperatively by the OKEECC and the Oklahoma Association for Environmental Education (OKAEE) is included in each issue and posted to the web. OKEECC and OKAEE members, as well as teachers and other environmental educators, submit articles and photos for inclusion in this publication distributed three times annually. Articles of national and state interest in the areas of EE and sustainability are also included to keep readers abreast of national studies and trends.
A mailing list of 3800 names has been compiled over the past few years through sign-up sheets provided by OKEECC members at EE conferences and other events. It is also available on-line and distributed electronically to several EE groups.
The "Guide to Community Environmental Improvement and Beautification" will be available in spring of 2004. This publication is a how to guide for civic groups, chambers of commerce, beautification committees, PTA's, school ecology clubs or any other group interested in their community. It includes projects, events, funding, resources, contact persons and an additional resource list for groups and communities. This information was compiled by members of the OKEECC as a one-stop shopping guide for groups interested in improving or enhancing their community's environment. It will automatically be distributed to the following entities upon final printing: local offices of chambers of commerce, OSU Extension Service, conservation districts and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ); state libraries, mayors and/or city managers, and state legislators. Remaining copies will be distributed at appropriate conferences by members of the OKEECC or by request. The information is also available on-line.
The Legislative Leadership Subcommittee was one of the first subcommittee's of the Coordinating Committee. The purpose of this subcommittee was to promote environmental education by providing decision makers with basic information on environmental issues. ?Environment 101? was presented to the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee on January 31, 1995. Representatives listened to a two-hour basic overview of air, water, waste and oil and gas facts and issues in Oklahoma. They were given a large binder to use as a reference. The presentation was well received.
Upon review of the educational impact of the event, the subcommittee felt that the format was a bit boring for members who collected massive amounts of information every day. The Legislative Leadership Environment 101 program was sunsetted. The Subcommittee decided to borrow an idea from Nebraska and hold a Water Festival at the State Capitol for the next year. The Legislators would be invited to compete in a friendly water fact game against students from across the state. This water festival developed into a very successful educational event, the H2Oklahoma Water Festival.
The H2Oklahoma Water Festival began in 1995 as an attempt to involve Oklahoma Legislators in environmental education activities. Following a concept developed by the state of Nebraska, the subcommittee put together a water festival for 5th graders with an academic bowl and hands-on exhibit components. The second year, a water court was added to the event.
A contest was held to name the event and H2Oklahoma was selected. The purpose of the festival was to celebrate water history, resources and conservation. The first H2Oklahoma festival was held in 1996 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The H2Oklahoma Quest academic bowl was held on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Exhibits were located in the rotunda on the 4th floor.
An invitation was sent to 5th grade classes across the state to compete in the H2Oklahoma Quest to test their knowledge of water facts against other schools in their local Conservation District. Winning teams from individual conservation districts then competed at an Area competition. The winning team from each Area was invited to compete in the H2Oklahoma Quest at the State Capitol. Every team who competed in an Area contest was invited to attend the Festival. The winning team competed against Representative Randy Beulter and his team of Legislative members. The team who placed second competed against a team composed of a representative from the Governor's Secretary of Environment and the executive directors of the Conservation Commission, Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Department of Agriculture, Department of Wildlife Conservation, and Department of Environmental Quality. Although it was intended to be a fun learning activity, the H2Oklahoma Quest became too competitive and was cancelled after the 2001 festival.
The exhibit portion of the Festival continues to be highly successful. In the first few years of the Festival, it was held in the rotunda of the 4th floor. Agencies who participate in the OKEECC sponsored interactive, hands-on activity stations where students learned about water. Over the years, stations have included activities on water history, water conservation, water facts, importance of water to trees, water and wildlife, water safety, building an edible wetland, and making rain sticks. Evaluations from teachers over the years have praised this learning opportunity for their students.
The H2Oklahoma Court is a mock trial on water rights. Lawyers argue a real Oklahoma water rights case. Students from the audience are selected to be the jury. The H2Oklahoma Court not only exposes participants to Oklahoma's water laws, but also provides them with an opportunity to learn about trials and the civil process.
Due to construction of the Capitol Dome, the H2Oklahoma Festival was forced to move in 2001. The 2001 H2Oklahoma Festival was held at the Oklahoma City Zoo. The date of the event was changed from winter to fall in 2001 to correspond with ?Make a Splash? National Water Education Day. Changing the season also allowed the committee to hold the festival outside.
The first outdoor H2Oklahoma Festival was held in October of 2001 in Enid Oklahoma for 5th graders who lived in the Turkey Creek watershed. Taking the festival to a watershed proved to be well received and highly successful. A decision was made by the Committee to hold the Festival in a different watershed every year. In 2002 the Festival was held at Ft. Cobb State Park. The Festival was held in eastern Oklahoma in September of 2003 on the Barron Fork River.
As a result of the success of the H2Oklahoma Festival the Committee will continue to sponsor it annually in different parts of the state. The 2004 H2Oklahoma Festival is scheduled to be held at Foss State Park for 5th graders in the Foss Lake watershed.
Seeds of Success is a recognition program designed to identify, acknowledge and share successful environmental education programs in Oklahoma schools. The program has four purposes:
- To offer examples of effective programs planned and implemented by local schools with community and business participation.
- To highlight how schools keep existing programs going, and provide information and encouragement for developing new programs despite school budget cuts.
- To identify and communicate the common factors that make school-based programs successful and transferable.
- To encourage existing programs to improve by offering examples of how other schools develop award-winning programs.
Information on award winners is featured in a directory published by the OKEECC. Copies of the directory are distributed to teachers, principals, libraries, superintendents and legislators. The publication describes each of the selected programs, thus bringing recognition to the school, the district, and the individuals responsible for program success. The directory is an important resource for anyone looking for fresh innovative ideas to use in environmental education. In addition, selected programs are recognized at the annual Environmental Education EXPO.
Program directories have been published for the following years:
- 1995 - 5 entries, 3000 copies printed
- 1996 - 9 entries, 2500 copies printed
- 1997 - 14 entries, 3200 copies printed
- 1998 - 5 entries, 6000 copies printed
- 2000 - 4 entries, published on OCC website
The OKEECC gratefully acknowledges the Florida Office of Environmental Education for sharing the idea of the Florida Sharing Success in Environmental Education program and Natural Selections directory.