Recap: 2019 Annual Conference

Connect, Explore, Engage!

November 14-16, 2019 *  UW-Madison Union South, Madison, WI 

The Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education invites you to join a community of environmental educators who push the leading edge of the profession, engage in proven practices, advocate for their field and motivate the pursuit of EE excellence.

Connect, explore and engage with us this November!

View Conference Program PDF Here!

2019 Conference Theme & Tracks

This year’s conference will focus on proven practices, pushing the leading edge of the profession, and motivating the pursuit of excellence. The theme is Connect, Explore, Engage!

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

How can EE empower diverse perspectives?

Empowering diverse perspectives to enhance environmental education and creating opportunities for cross-cultural understanding and exchange; illuminating sense-of-place through diverse conservation and environmental perspectives, building accessibility and equity in programs. We also seek proposals related to Act 31, which requires schools to public provide instruction on the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin’s eleven federally-recognized American Indian nations and tribal communities.

Creating Strong EE Programs and Centers

How can we be effective EE leaders?

Developing leadership and administration in environmental and outdoor learning programs, including staff recruitment and training, program marketing, organizational finances and grants, volunteer recruitment and management, development strategies, visioning and risk management. Promoting innovation and the effective use of technology.

Wisconsin Waters and Coasts

How can we use EE to protect water?

Addressing the need for clean water, healthy aquatic ecosystems and resilient watersheds and Great Lakes through environmental education and outdoor learning programs. WAEE especially seeks presentations that use water as a means of illuminating the Wisconsin Standards for Environmental Literacy and Sustainability as well as Next Generation Science Standards.

Advocating for EE

How do we use advocacy to strengthen the impact of environmental education?

These presentations promote civic engagement, environmental justice, conservation action, active stewardship, community discourse, collaboration with diverse partners and advocacy for environmental education in communities, schools, early childhood programs, universities, farm programs, non-profit organizations and the state of Wisconsin.

Registration is Now OPEN!

Register NOW!

Registration details, including cost, included amenities, and deadlines are available via the above link.

Keynote & Plenary Speakers

Keynote Speaker:

Preston Cole, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Secretary Cole was appointed by Governor Tony Evers in 2019, and previously served as the Chair of the State Natural Resources Board where he led the development of the Youth Conservation Congress. Cole received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management from the University of Missouri and was the first African American to graduate from the degree program.

Friday, 9am

Featured Speaker:

David O’Connor, American Indian Studies Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

David is originally from and is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) in northern Wisconsin. In David's role at DPI, he supports school districts' efforts to provide instruction on the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin's American Indian nations and tribal communities, often referenced as Wisconsin Act 31 and the education of Native American students.

Friday, 4:30pm

Special Sessions at the 2019 Annual Conference

For People and Place: elevating indigenous voice in environmental education and supporting Act 31

Friday November 15th, 1:45-3:45pm

Environmental education can be a powerful tool to support treaty rights, include indigenous points of view and current indigenous-led land and cultural stewardship efforts.  This session supports environmental educators in efforts to help schools and communities reach the goals of Wisconsin’s Act 31, a requirement that all public school districts and pre-service education programs provide instruction on the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of Wisconsin’s eleven federally-recognized American Indian nations and tribal communities.  Leadership in this session is provided by staff from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and UW-Madison.

North American Association for Environmental Education’s Community Engagement Guidelines for Excellence Workshop 

Friday, November 15 10:30am-3:30pm

Interested in making your environmental, natural resource and education work more effective? Come learn about best practices for engagement of community members. This workshop is designed to:

  • Offer insights into joining forces with diverse partners to forge common purposes and collaborate toward shared outcomes
  • Outline steps for creating more inclusive working environments that support social equity, effective partnerships and coalitions, and long-term change

Bora Simmons, the Founding Director for the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education will be facilitating the workshop. Entry to the 9:30am keynote speaker is included with this workshop.  Registration is separate from the WAEE conference registration.  

Discovering Energy in Nature - $10 fee (limited to 20 participants)

Saturday, November 16 10:00am-12:30pm

Join the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) to discover energy lessons that can effectively be taught outside. Take temperatures to investigate how shading, coloring, and other factors affect temperature; survey different environments to determine how sunlight, soil moisture, temperature, and wind affect living elements in an ecosystem; and explore energy transfer in food chains.

As a result of participating in this workshop, educators will

  • Discover how energy is integral to all processes in nature
  • Identify areas in their curriculum where they could integrate energy and/or nature
  • Develop relationship(s) with local community partners which might help facilitate energy and/or nature opportunities
  • Know where to obtain resources that will help energy and/or nature integrations

Conference Schedule

Thursday, Nov 14th

2pm - WAEE Board Meeting
5pm - Networking event and social time (stay tuned for details! See "Fun & Community")

Friday, Nov 15th

8am - Registration opens
8am - Exhibits open
9:15am - Welcome Ceremony & Keynote Address: Preston Cole
10:30am - Break
11am - Concurrent sessions
12:30pm - Lunch & Student Meeting
1:45pm - Concurrent sessions
2:30pm - Break
3pm - Concurrent sessions
3:45pm - Break
4pm - Ignite Sessions
4:30pm - Speaker: David O'Connor
5:30pm - Banquet and silent auction

Saturday, Nov 16th

8am - Exhibits open
9am - WAEE Membership Meeting
10am - Concurrent sessions
11:30am - Break
11:45am - Concurrent sessions
12:30pm - Lunch
1:45pm - Concurrent sessions
2:30pm - Ignite session
3pm - Closing ceremony

Detailed Schedule

Here’s a few titles to watch for under each of our conference tracks this year:

Connect, Explore, Engage!:

“Engaging Student Interest and identity in the new Wisconsin Standards for Science”
“Finding the Stories in Nature”
“Best Practices for Youth Gardens and Outdoor Classrooms”

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion:

“Integrating Ojibwe Treaty Rights, Sovereignty & TEK into Science and Environmental Curriculum”
“The Costa Rica Experience-Discovery, Exploration, and Adventure”

Creating Strong EE Programs and Centers:

“Three Ingredients to Successful EE Centers”
“Master Naturalists – Volunteers Making a Difference at your Site”
“Solar Energy for Teachers and Schools”

Wisconsin Waters and Coasts:

“Connecting Higher Ed to K-12 Schools through Water”
“Our Wet Footprint: Teaching About Human Impacts on Aquatic Areas”
“Citizen Science in the Hydrosphere”

Advocating for EE:

“People, Places and Policy: Bringing Science and Policy to EE”
“The Story of Wisconsin School Garden Day: Community Organizing and Advocating for Environmental Education”

Fun & Community

Details to Come!

We have some fun events and networking opportunities in the works for both Thursday and Friday evenings.


If you're getting into town on Thursday, we're working on arranging some outdoor activities on the UW Campus. Join participants at the end of the day to relax and commiserate and gear up for conference events on Friday and Saturday. More details to come.

Thursday, 5pm


Join fellow conference-goers for a Friday evening banquet at the beautiful Union South Varsity Hall. Enjoy yummy sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres along with a cash bar. Network with colleagues and celebrate environmental education in Wisconsin.

Get ready for WAEE’s Got Talent! Our first ever evening event that spotlights the skills of our members and friends invites you to prepare songs, poems, stories, skits, spoken word, beats, amazing feats and naturalist know-how to share with a fun appreciative audience.

Sign Up Now!

Round out the evening with the talented (and fellow WAEE Member) Kendra Swanson. Kendra is a song-writer and performer of lively, folksome music: frailing banjo, rigorous guitar, soulful strings, and hearty vocals to boot. Her music distinctly embodies a truly Americana sound from (and about) the heartland, with intimate reflections on its flora, fauna, and people. She has independently produced and released three all-original albums, “Kendra & Kin, Live in Rockford” (2013) , “Go Down to the Low Down” (2015), and "Without, Within" (2017). A troubadour and professional naturalist, she blends stories and ecology into one-of-a-kind performances of laughter and truth.

Friday, beginning at 5:30pm

Location & Accommodations

Photo credit: UW-Madison Union South

Welcome to Madison!

The 2019 Annual Conference will take place at on the UW Madison campus at the beautiful Union South - 1308 W Dayton Street, Madison. There is plenty of space for our concurrent sessions and community events. Most WAEE events will occur on the second and third floors. Find out more about Union Sound amenities (including a Babcock Ice Cream stand!) by clicking below:

Union South

Parking is tricky on campus and we will be providing some tips and best practices to all registrants.

We have a block of rooms reserved at the Madison Concourse Hotel for a special rate of $99/night. The Concourse is a beautiful 25 minute walk to the Union South. Please visit the following link to reserve your space:

Hotel Reservations

You can also peruse for more accommodation recommendations.

Getting to Union South

Parking is extremely limited at Union South (sorry about that!). A map of parking locations showing available spaces, as well as bus stops and B-Cycle electric bike locations, can be found HERE.

In support of sustainability and our Green Event Certification, WAEE recommends taking alternative transportation to the conference. Check out the following options to save money and time too!

Take the Free Bus!

Staying at The Madison Concourse Hotel? Leave your car and take the #80 bus line. It’s free and runs between the Square and Union South. Schedule and route information found HERE.

If you're outside of the #80 route, you can take the bus for $2/ride from anywhere in the city. Map your route (with live time drop-off and pick-up times) with Google Maps or the city's route planner.

Ride A Bike

B-Cycle is an electric bike rental service that offers a 30-minute pass ($5) or weekly pass ($16) on their website. A B-Cycle station is located outside the front door of Union South. Everyone who rides a bike to the conference will be entered into a drawing to win a $30 Acorn Naturalists gift certificate!

Carpool with Friends

WAEE is using GroupCarpool to help you coordinate rides from around the state. Click HERE to find cars or riders to share gas money and EE camaraderie.


WAEE is pleased to announce that the Student & Educator scholarship is available to help support those wishing to attend the 2019 Annual Conference. Application deadline is October 15th, 2019 at midnight.

This affordability scholarship is designed to offer students and educators the opportunity to request assistance to attend the conference. Potential recipients are asked to contemplate what they hope to gain from their time at the Conference, and why the field of EE, as a whole, is important.

Preference is given (but not limited) to: WAEE members, and those who have never attended a WAEE Conference.

Recipients are required to volunteer their time during the course of the Conference to help ensure the event's success.

Scholarship Application

College Course Credit

Earn college credit for attending the WAEE Annual Conference through UW-Stevens Point Continuing Education. Click below to find out more.

Details Coming Soon!

Volunteer at the Conference

Details coming soon on how you can help make the annual event a success.

Want to help the planning committee? Contact Deana Erickson to find out how you can join the fun!

Become a Sponsor or Exhibitor

WAEE offers comprehensive and flexible benefits for sponsors seeking to reach more than 200 education and sustainability decision-makers as well as business and government leaders. This conference offers the perfect platform for sponsors to engage with one of the most passionate and engaged audiences for environmental education, whose influence reaches thousands of people each year.

Click here for more information or to submit your information:

Sponsorship & Exhibitor Info