A state wildlife educator from Wilson is receiving a prestigious award for his work.
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) wildlife education supervisor Mike Rader has been selected by the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) to receive the John K. Strickler Award.
According to the KDWPT, each year, KACEE recognizes leaders in education with its Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Awards. Nominated by their peers, recipients are chosen for exhibiting outstanding innovation, leadership and achievement, as well as collaboration and cooperation within and beyond the environmental education field.
“These award recipients are the best in their field and KACEE is pleased to honor these deserving individuals and organizations, who contribute so much to environmental education in Kansas,” said Gina Penzig, KACEE president and media relations manager at Westar Energy.
The John K. Strickler Award, named after one of KACEE’s founders and first executive director John K. Strickler, honors the lifetime achievements, contributions, and leadership of individuals in the Kansas conservation and environmental education field. Rader was selected because of his long-term commitment to environmental education, which began early in his career when he worked as a conservation worker at Wilson State Park.
At Wilson State Park, Rader provided visitors with educational programs about the unique wildlife in the park, as well as his love for the area. In 2007, Rader was promoted to wildlife education coordinator where he took his passion for teaching about the environment statewide. Currently, Rader oversees staff and programming at the Milford Nature Center, Prairie Center in Olathe, Pratt Education Center and Museum, Southeast Kansas Nature Center in Galena, and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms. Rader also coordinates the Outdoor Wildlife Learning Sites (OWLS) program, promoting and funding outdoor classrooms at 167 schools across the state, where students can engage in onsite, hands-on outdoor learning labs.
Rader also spearheads ECO-Meets, which are statewide scholarship competitions for high school students. Hundreds of high school students from around the state participate each year, many of whom go on to pursue careers in the natural sciences as a result of their experience.
Other award winners recognized alongside Rader this year include:
KACEE Awards – Flint Hills Map and Education Program, Elmdale (Community/Non-Profit); Sperry-Galligar Audubon Society, Pittsburg (Community/Non-Profit); Judy Boltman, Topeka (Government); Melanie Falcon, Lindsborg (PreK-16 Education); Park Management and Conservation Program, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS (PreK-16 Education).
Connie Elpers Rising Star Award – Amber Myers, Manhattan
Kansas Green School of the Year Award – Chisholm Middle School, Newton
Awards will be presented at a celebration hosted by KACEE on Friday, April 6, 2018, at the Sunset Zoo in Manhattan. The event is sponsored by KACEE, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Sunset Zoo, Midwest Energy, and the Franklin County Conservation District. To purchase tickets, and for more information on the awards, visit www.kacee.org or call (785) 532-1902.