History of the Consortium

The Midwest Environmental Education Conference supporting organizations held their first meeting in 1962. Originally, eight states’ organizations supported this conference – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

State organizations from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin signed a memorandum of understanding in 2004 to loosely organize as a steering committee of a rotating, hosted professional development conference.

In July 2020, the four-state groups updated the memorandum of understanding to broaden this group to support professional development on a regional basis. The Midwest Environmental Education Consortium was formed. The Midwest Environmental Education Conference still rotates between the four states as host, but the group is also going to pursue other learning opportunities that can be shared among the organizations.

Past Conferences

Wisconsin – 2023

To Hinųkwaseja: Restoring connections to land and each other
November 2-4, 2023, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Stoney Creek Creek Hotel Onalaska – LaCrosse

Place and Land (with a capital ‘P’ and ‘L’) have always been relevant to environmental education. This year, our conference will highlight the increasing importance of place-based relationships to a sustainable future. This requires particular attention to justice for Indigenous people. The theme serves as a call to support communities that must fight against displacement. Likewise, we must address the linkages between such displacement and environmental degradation. Hinųkwaseja is the Ho-Chunk name for the settlement at La Crosse. With this language, we show gratitude to our meeting Place.

Iowa – 2021

Exploring Community: Land, Water, People
July 26-29, 2021
Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

The conference keynote from Robin Wall Kimmerer and sessions focused on the ideas of re-defining community to include all land, water, and people, and building healthy, resilient, vibrant communities for all.

Minnesota – 2019

Access Nature: Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Environmental Education
October 3-5, 2019
Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN

This year’s conference theme will explore barriers that prevent educators and learners from accessing natural areas and having valuable learning experiences in the outdoors. We will focus on ways to promote access to natural spaces for everyone, regardless of physical ability, race, gender identity, age, geography, access to transportation, or socioeconomic status. Field trips, workshops, and breakout sessions will cover topics from climate change and conservation to ADA accessibility, program assessment, and reaching diverse audiences. Collect valuable resources and lesson plans for your teaching toolbox. Join us to get inspired to help everyone access nature!

Illinois – 2017

Live in the NOW, with Focus on the FUTURE
October 11-14, 2017
Q Center, St. Charles, IL

Our ever-changing world of increasing global focus is quickly ticking through each day at a rapid rate!  The 2017 Midwest Environmental Education Conference offers the opportunity to be still and discover how your local EE is impacting your community NOW and in the FUTURE!  Through the 2017 MEEC Niches (strands); Nature, Native, Neighborhood, Nurture, and Nourishment, our goal for all conference attendees is to identify their strengths and share, reveal new adventures and explore, and celebrate the importance of environmental education locally and globally.

Wisconsin – 2015

Promoting Access to Environmental Education Experiences 
October 21-24, 2015
Monona Terrace
Madison, WI

Iowa – 2013

Seasons of Plenty: enlightening, inspiring, and rewarding (not to mention darn good fun)
September 25-28, 2013
Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
Coralville, IA

Like a cornucopia filled with bountiful fruits, environmental educators nurture their audiences with their diverse skill-set. Their enthusiasm to teach ensures us that if we but listen, learn, act upon and pass along that knowledge to future generations, we will guarantee many more “Seasons of Plenty.” The conference had 64 educational sessions in the areas of: environmental education literacy, growing green, natural resources, inspiration, leadership and management, cornucopia, sustainability, and conserving resources. The keynote speaker was David Allaway, senior policy analyst from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The keynote performer was Kaiulani Lee  who performed a “Sense of Wonder,” a one-person play written and performed by Lee showcasing Rachel Carson’s love for the natural world and her fight to defend it.

Minnesota – 2011

Environmental Education, Naturally Healthy
April 7-9, 2011
The Kahler Grand Hotel & Rochester Marriott, Rochester, MN

Environmental education has a goal of environmental literacy, and ultimately, a healthy natural environment.  Our conference theme, Environmental education: Naturally healthy, was chosen to highlight environmental education’s role in fostering the benefits of humans and environmental health.  We will consider how these benefits can shape the way we communicate about and approach our work in a world that is changing rapidly and facing complicated environmental problems. Five strands will focus our thinking about these topics: Environment, People, Schools, Organizations, and Current Research.

Illinois – 2009

Climbing the Green Wall
Oct. 14-17, 2009
I Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign, IL

Our conference theme, “Climbing the Green Wall,” was chosen to address the fact that all environmental educators struggle to overcome certain barriers or walls in their careers. Four commonly identified limitations within the  field of environmental education were selected by the conference committee: Administration, Interpretation, Natural History, and Sustainability. Through concurrent sessions, workshops, and keynote presentations, we will provide conference participants with the knowledge and resources to overcome these walls and maximize their potential.

Wisconsin – 2007

“No Child Left Inside”
October 18-20, 2007
Country Springs Hotel
Stevens Point, WI

Iowa – 2005

The Winds of Change
July 20-23, 2005
North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, IA