Dr. Melinda Wilder, director of natural areas at Eastern Kentucky University, recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education (KAEE).
Wilder’s career as an environmental educator began in 1978 when she was a resource management ranger for the Corps of Engineers at Lake Cumberland and then Lake Barkley. After earning her master’s degree, she continued to pursue her passion for environmental education as a middle school teacher at Model Laboratory School on the EKU campus.
In her current role, Wilder has introduced the wonders of environmental education to countless pre-service and in-service educators, who have gone on to inspire their own students. Through her work at EKU, she has provided professional development opportunities and resources through her outreach to communities throughout the region. Wilder has trained educators and facilitators in nationally recognized curricula such as Project WET, Learning Tree and WILD, as well as the North America Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Guidelines for Excellence.
She has also been a leader at the state level, serving as one of three co-chairs who led the development of the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Plan, and continues to play a lead role in its implementation. She also works as a facilitator for the Professional Environmental Educator Certification through the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, and is a member of the Council’s advisory committee. Thanks in part to Wilder’s efforts, EKU was among the first four institutions in North America to receive recognition for a new NAAEE higher education initiative at last year’s NAAEE conference in Ottawa.
“It is safe to say that environmental education in Kentucky would not be where it is today if not for the efforts of individuals such as Dr. Wilder and her unwavering dedication to making Kentucky a national leader in the field of environmental education,” said Ashley Hoffman, executive director for the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education.
Wilder and other honorees were recognized at KAEE’s annual Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Gala in Lexington on June 6.
The Kentucky Association for Environmental Education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and serves as the professional membership-based organization for environmental education in Kentucky. Since 1976, the KAEE has worked to build a sustainable environment through education. KAEE is one of the country’s oldest associations supporting environmental education and the first affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education.