NAAEE Conference
Jill Rennicke, Alumni Coordinator

"Education is simply the soul of society," wrote G. K. Chesterton, "as it passes from one generation to another." The multi-generational power of education was on full display recently in Spokane, Washington as both a current Conserve teacher and a CS4 alum spoke to audiences at the 47th annual conference of the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). Current Conserve English teacher Jeff Rennicke presented "Growing Up Wild: Connecting a New Generation to the Outdoors" to conference goers, a program based on our school's efforts to instill both a love for and a knowledge of the natural world. "It is a program, Rennicke says, "based on that famous John Burroughs quote: 'Knowledge without love will not stick; but if love comes first, knowledge will surely follow.' And it speaks to the Conserve School mission of creating strong voices for the natural world."

One of those strong voices, CS4 alum Paige Nygaard, also spoke to the conference of environmental leaders from around the country discussing her work with the Maine Emerging Environmental Changemakers Network. In a program entitled "Building a More Inclusive Environmental Sector Through Multi-Generational Collaborative Leadership," Nygaard spoke about her strong belief in the power of including a place for young, diverse voices in environmental education. "I believe," Nygaard said, "that anyone can be an environmental changemaker and that everyone has a role to play in building a more resilient and equitable community. Now, more than ever, we need to connect with one another across generations and differences to build our resources, our skills, our deep relationships, and our sense of community to bring about positive change."

"Education, to me, has always been about the future," says Rennicke, now in his 15th year as a Conserve School teacher. "To hear a former student like Paige speak with such confidence and passion about the role of young people like herself in that future, made it clear that what we are doing here at Conserve is making a difference far beyond the lakes and forests of our northwoods campus."