MAEOE Conference—2023

In early February, Katie and Clare (ThorpeWood’s program director and barn manager/community liaison, respectively) took to the road well before dawn and headed down to Ocean City for this year’s Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education conference. It was a jam-packed weekend of Environmental Inspiration. From morning to evening, the days were filled with workshops and presentations all centering on that which is most important to all of us at ThorpeWood – sharing the natural world. Katie and Clare took in wonderful presentations like:

Living Local: Agriculture Education Training

The healthiest food at any scale: the gardens and farms of the future.

Nature-Wise: Reading, Writing, Playing and Probing in the Outdoor Classroom

Using Observation to Engage and Ground

Nature and Mental Health

Schools + Outdoors + Counseling = Increased Opportunity

Things that Go “Ribbit” in the Night: Amphibian Call Identification

The Power of Connection: Discovering the Effects of Formal and Nonformal Environmental Education on Students’ Connectedness to Nature

Exploring the Environment through Theatre

Nocturnal Adventures

In addition to learning, engaging, and taking vigorous notes during these sessions, the ThorpeWood staff also led some of the conference sessions!

Katie led her group of 17 participants out to the beach on a cold (32°) and windy (15mph, with additional great gusts) afternoon. Her session was called Forest Therapy…on the Beach!, during which she introduced her fellow educators to Forest Therapy as a practice before actually heading out to the beach for two hours of mindful engagement. The hours on the beach consisted of a sensory awakening meditation, nature invitations, and tea. The great wind blew sand through everyone’s hair and eliminated hopes for tea as the tea cups continuously filled with sand. So, with some quick adjustments, tea time became an opportunity to taste the salt water of the ocean and appreciate all the sensations and memories that followed.

Upon reentering the warmth of the conference room, the group discussed the outing, how they might incorporate the practice into their work, and generally rounded out the session with gratitude and good company. 

On Saturday, Katie and Clare teamed up to run the Social Emotional Learning Community Meeting, an opportunity for those with shared interests to network and share their experiences around the chosen topic. We were honored to be thought of and asked to lead this session. It was a delight to facilitate the conversations through the creation of impromptu expert panels on many Social Emotional Learning topics. 

Overall, the weekend was a great success and our ThorpeWood team came home bursting with ideas, inspiration, and pride at their part in the event. Until next year…