Great Lakes Aquarium’s Learning and Engagement Director Sarah Erickson has been selected to receive the 2018 Non-Formal Environmental Educator of the Year Award from the Minnesota Association for Environmental Education (MAEE). The award ceremony will be held at Eastman Nature Center in Dayton, Minnesota on November 4.
This award is presented for exhibiting innovative and exemplary effort in providing environmental education opportunities for audiences outside the formal school system. Erickson is this year’s only recipient of the award. A lifetime achievement and formal educator award will also be presented at the award ceremony.
Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, Minnesota serves nearly 10,000 school children each year through field trip visits and classes, preschool and nature play programs, and summer and school year camp experiences. The Aquarium also hosts an annual series of professional development workshops for educators and adult learners. Individuals of all ages are invited to explore and ask questions through free-choice learning experiences on the Aquarium exhibit floor with the animal residents and interpretation staff.
“The Aquarium is outside the realm of what some think of as environmental education. It is absolutely what we are doing here,” said Sarah Erickson. “It is exciting to have our efforts recognized in this way. We take our work of fostering personal connections to water and wildlife seriously – and have a great time working with members of the community in the process.”
In addition to developing and fostering an increasingly vital environmental education program at the Aquarium, Erickson also has extensive experience in the area of exhibit design.
In 2018, her design expertise was tapped to help create a Lake Superior exhibit focused on climate change for the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair. More than 250,000 visitors engaged in the exhibits in Eco Experience during the fair’s 12 day run.
The Non-Formal Environmental Educator of the Year Award is a significant honor for Erickson who began her career at Great Lakes Aquarium in 2005. It is also notable statewide recognition for the vast array of environmental educational programming offered by Great Lakes Aquarium to learners of all ages in the Duluth area.