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Faculty member to receive Formal Educator of the Year Award

RELEASED: Oct. 29, 2010

Garry Running photo
Dr. Garry Running

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Garry Running, professor of geography and anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will receive the Formal Educator of the Year Award given by the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education.

Running will attend the WAEE Fall Conference Oct. 29 at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center in Wisconsin Dells. Along with the award, Running will receive $100 and a one year membership to WAEE.

"I was pleasantly surprised," Running said. "Coming from a geography background I didn't necessarily think about myself as being an environmental instructor. It is an honor."

Running said he is looking forward to meeting and networking with fellow environmental educators. He hopes to ensure the environmental educating he does meets their standards.

"I'd like to get better at infusing an environmental education component into more of the classes I teach and more of the K-12 outreach I do," Running said. "I'll be seeking out new opportunities for our students to apply what they know in internships or in other ways they can also help make a difference."

The Formal Educator of the Year Award honors educators for "outstanding, ongoing effort in infusing environmental education into their teaching." Dr. Ruth Cronje, associate professor of English at UW-Eau Claire, nominated Running for the award.

"I nominated Garry because I have been so impressed by his tireless energy and innovation as an environmental educator," Cronje said. "He's constantly pushing his students into new challenges and also pushing himself to expand his understanding and figure out how to integrate that new understanding into his courses."

WAEE is a nonprofit organization that sponsors conferences, workshops and gatherings to promote professional growth and networking opportunities. The organization supports the work of its members through statewide initiatives, professional resources and recognition. According to the organization's website, WAEE's goal is to promote responsible environmental action through education in the classroom and in the community.

"Even though my name is on the award, this is truly a group effort," Running said. "A lot of things get done around here with group support. It is the result of a lot of collaborating and all of those other collaborators have to be acknowledged, too. It really shows how strong the many cross-campus collaborations to promote environmental education have become."

Although Running enjoys teaching and working with students, he loves seeing the personal progress of individuals the most.

"When we get to see students evolve from freshman to senior year, seeing that 'light bulb' go on and by the end having confidence to be ready for the real world, that's the best for me," he said. "It is satisfying to say, 'Hey, there's a kid who's going to go off and be a great success.'"

Running is also part of an environmental civic engagement project funded by Blugold Commitment funds and a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. Several UW-Eau Claire faculty and 20 students canoed the lower Chippewa River earlier this year to create a "Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour." The tour will provide detailed information about pollution issues. Once completed, the public will be able to hike, kayak, canoe or bike to preset GPS waypoints on the river.

For more information, contact Dr. Garry Running at 715-836-2731 or running@uwec.edu; or Dr. Ruth Cronje at 715-836-5384 or cronjerj@uwec.edu.

- 30-

LA/RD/DW

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