Almost two weeks ago, nearly 180 environmental educators gathered together from across the southeast for EENC's 30th annual conference and the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance's regional conference. From the moment they arrived at Lutheridge in Arden, we saw smiles (or rather smiling eyes above masks) to get together once more with their peers.
On Thursday, September 9, pre-conference field trips explored waterfalls, toured pollinator hot spots, and helped with invasive species removal at a local land trust property. On-site, educators learned how to facilitate future workshops on the Don't Waste It! curriculum and learned best practices for questioning strategies and promoting discussion using BEETLES resources.
The conference officially kicked off on Friday, September 10. Over the next two days, attendees chose from over 30 concurrent sessions indoors and out and spent meals and breaks in deep conversation with one another. On Friday, they learned about what we've been up to in EENC's annual meeting and we celebrated some amazing environmental educators and programs in our annual awards ceremony. That afternoon, attendees enjoyed amazing donated beverages during the networking social. Keynote speaker Dr. Trish O'Kane capped off the day by joining us virtually to speak about her experiences with "Birding to Change the World" and conversing with the audience in a Q & A. Saturday continued with much of the same energy - with the addition of the Research Symposium.
During the conference, EENC also hosted our annual silent auction, raising over $3694 to support future Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion workshops and kicked off the companion online auction, which is still going through Friday, September 24 at 7 pm! Each SEEA state also provide a unique raffle basket, raising $874 for scholarships for future SEEA conferences.
Overall, the conference was an amazing success. We are grateful to the phenomenal sponsors who helped us keep the costs as low as possible for the educators who attended. We're grateful for those who invested the time and energy in being a part of this conference. And we're grateful for all the educators in our community that for so many reasons were not able to be there. We look forward to seeing you all at EENC events - both virtual and in-person - in the year to come.