The COVID-19 outbreak and current 'social distancing' measures make for challenging times for many of us, especially for those who are elderly, immunocompromised, living with pre-existing conditions, single parents, and those who now have kids at home as the rest of the school year has been canceled, among other difficult situations.
KACEE wants to provide parents with easy access to resources to engage kids in environmental education at home during this time. This situation is new to everyone, and it can be stressful and scary; one way to relieve some of the stress is to spend time outside in nature. (It's great for adults, too!)
We have compiled some resources from our EE affiliates across the country, and we've also put together our own list of Kansas-specific resources. It might seem like the whole world has completely shut down, but we are amazed by the resilience and innovation that communities across the globe are demonstrating, finding ways to make things like outdoor spaces accessible to the public despite the virus (albeit with some conditions for safety)!
GOOGLE DOC WITH EE AT HOME RESOURCES
Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) put together a wonderful Google Doc full of ideas and links to various EE activities and projects that abide by social distancing measures, as well as mobile apps, videos, and more. Remember, EE at home can be as simple as unstructured play time outside - in fact, that is environmental education in its purest form!
FREE EE APPS
There are an abundance of nature-related apps for Apple and Android devices, but the below list provides a great start with FREE environmental education apps. These apps are used in conjunction with the outdoors, so they provide a gateway to nature that is helpful for kids who love to play games on their electronic devices!
(List partially compiled by Kentucky Environmental Education Council)
- Seek (by iNaturalist)
KANSAS' WILD PLACES ARE STILL OPEN
Many places, including schools, restaurants, retail stores, and movie theaters, are closed right now because of COVID-19. Government has banned gatherings of more than 10 people (at the time of this writing, although that could change), so it may seem like there is nothing to do but sit at home on the couch.
While it's not wise to travel far in these circumstances, it is OK - and is encouraged - to visit outdoor spaces like nature centers, trails, and preserves, as long as social distancing guidelines are maintained: stay at least 6 feet away from other people, wash your hands frequently, cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm, and stay home if you have any signs or symptoms of illness.
KACEE, and several educators in the Kansas community, have compiled a list of natural spaces all across the state that have declared themselves still open to the public, save for indoor spaces such as bathrooms. Visiting these wonderful locations is a great way to bust boredom, and get kids (and adults) some quality EE time while you're at it! Not to mention, spending time in nature has been shown to improve mood, and generally contribute to overall good health. Let's go outside! (Click the location titles for more information on each.)
Baker Wetlands in Lawrence, Kansas
Shawnee County Trails | Topeka, Kansas
Landon Nature Trail | Shawnee, Kansas
Great Plains Nature Center | Wichita, Kansas
Dillon Nature Center | Hutchinson, Kansas
Sand Hills State Park | Hutchinson, Kansas
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve | Strong City, Kansas
Konza Prairie | Manhattan, Kansas
Prairiewood Preserve | Manhattan, Kansas
Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park | Logan County, Kansas
Dyck Arboretum | Hesston, Kansas
Cheyenne Bottoms | Great Bend, Kansas
Smoky Valley Ranch | Oakley, Kansas
Feel free to share additional natural spaces across the state that you know to be open during this time in the comments of this post! Check the KACEE Facebook page for frequent updates and EE resources, or join our email list to stay informed about what's going on at KACEE.
Stay safe and....