Past Events

The Minnesota Association for Environmental Education hosts an annual workshop and/or conference for both formal and non-formal educators. Please check out the information below from past events.

Feast Forward

Friday, April 25th, 2014; Children's Country Day School, Mendota Heights, MN

Saturday, March 21, 2015; Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul, MN

Feast Forward is a traveling social event that raises money for environmental education through meals and entertainment. The point? Do good for our community, build new partnerships and friendships, and, well, have fun together.  

Rooted In Diversity
June 20-22, 2014 at Audubon Center of the North Woods, Sandstone, MN

The 2014 MAEE Conference included:

  • Full-Day workshop presented by the University of Minnesota Extension:Driven to Discover: Using citizen Science to spark authentic science investigations.
  • Half-day workshop presented by the Fond du Lac Thirteen Moons Program Master Naturalist Instructors, describing the philosophy and techniques used to incorporate the Ojibwe Culture into their Northwoods, Great Lakes Master Naturalist curriculum, as well as other school programs and workshops.  
  • Half-day workshop about Project Learning Treepresented by the MN DNR
  • Keynote Presentationby Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Minnesota Conservation Biology Program
  • A Diversity panel on the Hmong Environmental Experience
  • and Eighteen sessions in four different conference strands: 
    • Common Ground: places where EE is happening, natural history, or related.
    • Growing Together: about our audiences & educators; increasing diversity among EE professionals, reaching out to new audiences
    • Feeding the Roots of EE: methods & tools for delivering EE
    • Planting the Seeds of Change: advocacy, innovation, & youth development 

Exploring Our Communities

June 14-15, 2013
at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Bloomington, MN 

The 2013 MAEE Conference at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge gave attendees the opportunity to network and learn from one another in a beautiful setting. Our general session speakers from Minnesota Compass, Allison Churilla and Jane Tigan, engaged us in an interactive session on where we are headed as a state and in our communities. Saturday Field Trips included a Renewable Energy Tour, Using the Garden as a Classroom, Creating Natural Play Spaces and Outdoor Learning Stations, and a tour of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

More information is in the 2013 conference program (pdf).

Natural playgrounds: Benefits and elements 

January 9, 2012 at the Minnesota Department of Education in Roseville

Natural playgrounds are intentionally-designed outdoor spaces that encourage kids to incorporate nature in to their play. They may include things like rocks to scramble on, hills to climb, streams to dam, trees to balance on, and gardens to explore. Natural playgrounds have many benefits, including more imaginative free play, more social interaction and less bullying.
This interactive and very informative workshop explored natural, outdoor play environments through numerous pictures and exercises, and shows why children of all ages love them and find them both challenging and therapeutic. Attendees learned ways to significantly improve outdoor play and learning areas using readily available community and on-site resources.

About the presenter: Ron King, Architect, President of the Natural Playgrounds Design and Construction Companies, designs and constructs Natural Playgrounds throughout North America.

David Sobel in Minnesota 

September 17-18, 2012
at the Friends School of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN


The landscape of schooling has begun to look like the sprawl of America. Generic textbooks designed for the big markets of California and Texas provide the same homogenized, unhealthy diet as all those fast food places on the strip. Educational biodiversity falls prey to the bulldozers of standardization. What is nearby has become parochial and insignificant. Place-based education is a response to the alienation of schools from community, and the decoupling of schools from historic sites, local landscapes, and farms. Instead, we need schools organized around the principles of the farmers' market, drawing on the resources and variety of the local community.

David led a free educational workshop focused on the seven Children and Nature Design Principles: Special Places, Adventure, Fantasy, Small Worlds, Hunting and Gathering, Animal Allies and Maps and Paths. These principles are useful tools for formal and non-formal educators in constructing new and innovative approaches to curriculum and program design in schools, summer and vacation camps, nature centers and environmental learning centers.

David Sobel is an internationally-known researcher, practitioner, and promoter of developmentally appropriate environmental education, place-based education, map-making with children, school improvement, children and nature, and parenting with nature.

Rec-reate, Re-create
June 21-22, 2012
at Itasca State Park in Park Rapids, MN

Conference Information
: The 2012 conference was in beautiful Itasca State Park. The DNR School Forest Program held their summit Thursday morning during pre-conference workshops. The Conference ran Thursday afternoon to Friday at 5 p.m. Attendees enjoyed the park through field trips at the University of Minnesota Biological Field Station and at a summer solstice may pole dance at the Mississippi headwaters. Our conference theme, Rec-reate, Re-create, was chosen to highlight our need to get out in nature in order to keep our passion for environmental education alive.

More information is in the 2012 conference program (pdf).

Environmental education: Naturally healthy
April 7-9, 2011
at the Marriot and Kahler Hotels in Rochester, MN

Conference Information
: The 2011 conference was a Midwest Environmental Education Conference, so over 150 attendees came from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. Our conference theme, Environmental Education: Naturally healthy, was chosen to highlight environmental education's benefits to human and environmental health. Through keynotes, concurrent sessions, and field trips, attendees considered how these benefits can shape the way we communicate about and approach our work in a world that is changing rapidly and facing complicated environmental problems. The five concurrent strands were: Healthy environments, Healthy People, Healthy Schools, Healthy Organizations, and Current Research.

More information is in the 2011 conference program (pdf).


Strong Roots for a Strong Future 
March 12-13, 2010
at Sugar Lake Lodge in Grand Rapids, MN

Conference Information: A stand of conifers will interlock their shallow roots to support each others growth, especially in northern Minnesota’s thin topsoil. Environmental educators in Minnesota must also share strong roots. The 2010 MAEE conference focused on growing strong, quality EE programs by providing sessions on:

  • Program evaluation
  • Administration
  • Current topics in environmental science and technology
  • EE research in Minnesota
  • Using an outdoor classroom
Friday, March 12 the DNR School Forest Program held a summit for their members.

Environmental Education Through the Life Stages 
June 17-18, 2009
at Jeffers Pond Elementary School in Prior Lake, MN

Conference Information: No matter what age or stage you are at you are learning. Environmental literacy requires education from birth to old age, but each age group has special learning requirements. The 2009 Conference focused on developing environmental education skills for educators working with students of all ages, sessions included:

  • Basic skills for new EE professionals
  • Advanced teacher skills
  • EE through the life stages
  • Leadership and management in EE

More information is in the 2009 conference program (pdf).

A look back at EE conferences in Minnesota  

Environmental education conferences in Minnesota have been hosted by various organizations and agencies since 1990. A brief description of each follows here:

2008: June in Lino Lakes, MN. Hosted by MAEE.

2007: April in Alexandria, MN. Hosted by MAEE.

2006: October in St. Paul, MN. National conference, hosted by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). MAEE was the affiliate host.

2005: April in Finland, MN. Hosted by MAEE.

2004: April 16-17 in Mankato, MN. Hosted by MAEE and the Minnesota Science Teacher's Association.

2003: March in Rosemount, MN. Hosted by MAEE.

2001: August 8-9 in Moorehead, MN. Hosted by MAEE.

2000: March 19-22 in Duluth, MN. Hosted by the National Association for Interpretation, Region V. MAEE co-sponsored.

1999: August 5-8 in Stillwater, MN. Midwest conference. Hosted by MAEE and sponsored by the Office of Environmetnal Assistance.

1998: June 19-20 at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN. Hosted by MAEE, Minnesota Office of Environmental Assitance, the EE Advisory Board, and Student Nature Area Program (SNAP).

1997: May 17-19 in Duluth, MN. Hosted by MAEE, Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, the EE Advisory Board, and the Minnesota Naturalists' Association.

1996: June 17 in Minneapolis. Hosted by MAEE, Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, and EE Advisory Board.

1995: October 12-15 in Rochester, MN. Midwest conference, hosted by MAEE and the EE Advisory Board.

1994: November 18-19 in Alexandria, MN. MAEE and the Environmental Education Advisory Board co-host the event.

1993: October at the U of M in St. Paul. MAEE hosts the Minnesota EE Conference for the first time.

1992: November in Brainerd, MN. MAEE formed as an orgnaization and partnered to produce this conference.

1991: September 27-October 2 in St. Paul, MN. Natioanl conference, hosted by the North American Association for EE.

1990: October 27-28th in Bloomington, MN. Hosted by the Environmental Quality Board and the Department of Education.


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