Friday, August 14, 2009

Food On A Stick, 4-Ring Circus, and a Fragile Planet

ARTFARM's Circus For A Fragile Planet is billed as the "Keynote Performance" for the 43rd Annual New England Environmental Education Alliance Annual Conference to be held in late September at the Incarnation Center in Ivoryton CT. Environmental Educators from all over New England and the Northeast and even a few from Canada will be attending. The conference theme is: Arena of Issues and Solutions in a Changing World and has Four Rings of Focus:
• Cultural Diversity
• Environmental Literacy
• Professional Development and Leadership
• Model Programs that Work
Sue Quincy, the conference organizer, invites any and all interested parties to attend and seek registration information at the NEEEA conference website.

Dic Wheeler, the Director of Art-Farm, says that this is an exciting show for the Circus. Wheeler says, "I particularly enjoy performing for predominantly adult audiences as I can go a little deeper with the science. The most challenging are the audiences that include [a wide age range of] 2 and 3 year olds, teenagers and adults -- who do we target? The circus act appeals to everyone, but the science has to be presented at a certain level so that it doesn't make the littlest ones tune out or seem patronizing to the adults."

The Circus has done performances at several colleges over the past 18 months, including Wesleyan, Central CT, and SUNY Cobbleskill, which is how the NEEEA Conference organizers became aware of the Circus. Wheeler expects the NEEEA conference will be a very positive experience because the audience will appreciate the fun approach to environmental education, agree with the message, and probabaly have some useful feedback to offer, with a sharp eye on the content of the Circus.

Ms. Quincy has related that this is a very fun and effective conference full of camraderie and community in which educators exchange ideas and information and infuse each other's viewpoints by sharing success stories from their states and participating in interactive and hands-on sessions. At this conference, educators obtain materials and resources that they take back to their areas where they can directly apply and turn into solutions.

Because the economy is a big challenge these days and budgets are strapped, many of the educators who count on attending this conference every year are using their own personal time and funds to be there. Some of those attendees will turn the conference into a family vacation of sorts, combining the travel into both work and fun. With that in consideration, the conference is a family friendly event with events and outings incorporated. In keeping with the fun and showcasing the Circus for a Fragile Planet as the keynote performance, the food offerings this year will be "food on a stick" items. Yum!

A new feature of the conference this year is the Richard Haley Memorial Quilt Auction. Richard Haley was a true environmental leader in the state and a unique individual. The quilt auction will benefit environmental educators who wish to attend a conference or training seminar. The quilts are all hand made locally - more information can be found at the web site of the CT Outdoor & Environmental Education Association

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