article and photo by Anne Criss
On Thursday, July 21st, Terri Argyle and Anne Criss presented a program on the Arkansas Master Naturalist Organization to two group sessions of teachers at the EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) Initiative Tech Camp and Summer Seminar, in Harrison, Arkansas which was held at the L. E. Gene Durand Conference Center at North Arkansas College. This seminar offers EAST Teachers, state-wide, an opportunity to learn, network, and share. The purpose of the AMN presentation was to engage, connect and explore the possibilities of state-wide partnerships. The EAST Initiative is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The Arkansas Department of Education, as well as public and private grants and individual and corporate donations currently provide funding for the Initiative. The small group sessions consisted of a Powerpoint presentation, question and answer discussion and supplementary handouts. Each session was allowed a maximum of 15 participants and both sessions were full.
EAST provides hands-on experience for students held at year-round at training centers in Little Rock and Fayetteville, Arkansas, equipping students who attend to return to their school to train their EAST classmates in the application of the latest technology. It also offers world-class professional development training which allows facilitators and EAST Core teachers to hone their facilitation skills so they can guide and encourage students as they identify community problems and seek solutions. Ongoing professional development is required annually. EAST helps schools effectively implement and manage their programs through site support, the annual national EAST Conference, Summer Seminar facilitator training and EAST Night Out national open house event. The Initiative is developing community-based solutions to provide all students, especially underrepresented minority students and low-income families, with access to an innovative and cutting-edge educational opportunity outside of the traditional classroom. The participants in the AMN sessions were eager to learn more about the organization and participated in a very productive question and answer discussion as to what opportunities might exist for partnering between EAST and AMN.