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09-07-20 Virtual Environmental Learning Guest Lauren Parmelee, Senior Director of Education at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

When social distancing restrictions were introduced and schools were closed in response to COVID-19, environmental education organizations had to adapt their operations and become more innovative in the delivery of their programs. As states, towns and cities closed parks and beaches, Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI) managed to keep its 14 wildlife refuges open and available to hikers, nature lovers and front line workers seeking the healing solace of nature. Outdoor environments provide the fresh air, space to exercise and green landscapes that support physical and mental health. ASRI was also quick to develop virtual programming to continue its role as a leader in environmental education.

Lauren ParmeleeGuest Lauren Parmelee is the Senior Director of Education at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Lauren has worked in science education for thirty-seven years at a variety of nature centers, science museums and children’s museums around the country. Since moving to Rhode Island in 2002, she has worked at the Norman Bird Sanctuary, the Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. She is also a Board Member of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association (RIEEA).

In quick order, Lauren and her staff have developed a variety of online programs to bring nature play and learning into people’s homes and into virtual school classroom spaces. With people spending more time at home these days, Audubon is meeting the tremendous need for programs that encourage children and their families to go out, explore their backyards and neighborhoods and keep in touch with nature. Getting outdoors is also a wonderful way to reduce stress, relieve loneliness and depression and find solace.

Information Resources:

Story Walking photo blog: EcoDetective in the Wetlands – https://netwalkri.com/blog/f/ecodetectives-in-the-wetlands

Audubon at Home – https://asri.org/audubon-at-home/resources.html

Virtual Learning for Environmental Education – https://www.rinaturalawakenings.com/2020/07/30/323326/virtual-learning-for-environmental-education

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