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Retired Eastern Kentucky University Professor, Dr. Melinda Wilder has been recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) as the 2019 Higher Education Educator of the Year.

For years, Wilder has served on the board of the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education, partnered with Ecology Project International and improved Yellowstone National Park’s teacher fellowship program. 

“By working with preservice and in-service teachers through undergraduate and graduate classes at the University, I hopefully initiated a ripple effect—wherein they too help their students connect with the natural world,” said Wilder.

Wilder in WoodWilder began her teaching career in 1983 in middle school mathematics and science. After obtaining her Ph.D. in science education Wilder began teaching in the College of Education at EKU in 1994. In 2005 she assumed the role of Director of the Division of Natural Areas at EKU. The following year, she led the development of an environmental education endorsement program at EKU that was accredited by NAAEE and later by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.

The Higher Education Educator of the Year award honors individuals for their efforts in promoting environmental education and using the environment as a context for learning in their teaching.

“Dr. Wilder has been a superstar in environmental education, always looking for ways to integrate environmental education into her teaching and helping students gain the knowledge, skills and know-how to be a positive force for sustainability in their communities,” said Judy Braus, Executive Director of NAAEE. “Her career exemplifies leadership, volunteer spirit and innovation and we are thrilled to recognize her outstanding accomplishments in the field.”