Featured Faculty: Katie Lynch
The Environmental Studies Program is very excited to announce that our own faculty member, Katie Lynch, has been invited to join the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program Council. Lynch is currently the co-director of the Environmental Leadership Program, Environmental Education Instructor, and undergraduate advisor to Environmental Studies students. The mission of the Council is to facilitate the implementation of the Environmental Literacy Plan by “creating thoughtful connections with the natural world through education and engagement.” The Council will be responsible for encouraging educational agencies and public schools to participate in environmental education programs. The plan operates in tandem with the “No Oregon Child Left Inside Act,” a bill signed into law in 2009 that encourages students from kindergarten to college to have hands-on learning experiences in Oregon biomes.
Lynch works to support these goals not only through her work on the Council, but also through the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) here at UO. “This spring ,” Lynch says, “we have two environmental education teams out in the community, leading children on field trips designed to restore their connections to place.”
The Restoring Connections ELP project “is a new place-based, experiential environmental education project in which we are working with a cohort of elementary school children as they move from kinder to fifth grade.” School children in the program will have the opportunity to learn hands-on about ecological processes by planting and raising native plants—and as the program continues into the future, the same group of students will see the difference their efforts make over time.
“By returning each year,” Lynch says, “the children will gain an understanding of local natural history that cannot be gained through a single visit alone.” This unique approach will help cultivate stewardship skills and a sense of personal responsibility for the natural world. The results of these programs are, of course, two-fold, as they not only provide high quality environmental education to local youth, but also provide college students with direct experience in curriculum development and implementation.
Katie Lynch has worked at the UO since 2005. Previously, as an environmental anthropologist, Lynch has worked in Peru, Ecuador, Indonesia and the United States examining issues of community-based natural resource management. This has included examining the role of medicinal plants in Amazonian conservation efforts and the potential for hands-on environmental education that promotes conservation. Before joining the UO she was a researcher at the Institute for Culture and Ecology, where her research focused on the relationships between forest policy and management, conservation of forest biodiversity and non-timber forest products. She has also facilitated various courses and workshops that examine the nexus between environmental and cultural issues.
Please join us in congratulating Katie on her latest step in promoting environmental literacy in Oregon!
Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.