Beginnings of NYSOEA
As told by Dr. Chip Hunter, Past President (1969-'70)
In the fall of 1967, George Fuge (Director of the Racquette Lake facilities of Cortland State) and I (Director of Potsdam State's Outdoor Facilities at Star Lake) attended a workshop sponsored by Cooper Union at their Outdoor Facility dealing with Ad. & Org. of outdoor education facilities. Returning together from that program we discussed the apparent need for getting outdoor facility operators across the State to get together to further foster our respective programs.
To that end, we planned a meeting to be held at Racquette Lake and George and I contacted our counterparts across the State along with others in the State with similar circumstances. That meeting took place in the winter of 1967. As I recall, about twelve people attended, among them were Kent Reeves of Ashokan Campus of New Paltz, Earl Helfiker of the Rochester School District and two women school teachers from Long Island (I don't remember their names, but they became very active). Things went well and we met again in the spring of 1968 at the Cortland College campus. It was there that we approved a charter establishing NYSOEA as an organization and elected George Fuge as President.
My memory is sketchy on what transpired over the next several months regarding meetings, gatherings, etc., but suffice it to say we met, we discussed, we toiled, we functioned and we grew. At one occasion, Kent Reeves quipped, "We double our membership each time we meet, at this rate we will have 2 or 3 hundred members in a couple of years."
The general focus of the organization was always on the out-of-doors but there became a potential split between those whose interest was education in the out-of-doors and those who supported education of the out-of-doors. In our second year, we gathered at Cooperstown and I, as President, chaired a general session of about two hundred members where we hassled over what direction we wanted to go. In the final analysis, we came away with a statement of purpose that called for a holistic approach and satisfied all factions. That statement pretty much sums up what NYSOEA is all about today.
I remained active in NYSOEA activities for the next several years but, subsequently my professional responsibilities at the College changed and my time and attention went in a different direction. I still am a life member and receive your publications regularly and follow your progress. It gives me much satisfaction to know that I was once part of it.
A Timeline of EE
1849 - The U.S. Department of the Interior is established. Among its duties (which are so diverse that it is nicknamed "the Department of Everything Else") is the management of public parklands. It is now the nation's main conservation agency.
1854 - Henry David Thoreau's Walden is published, lamenting the rise of industrialization and the destruction of wilderness, raised questions about humans' relationship to nature that still influence naturalists and political activists 150 years later. "In wildness is the preservation of the world." (Annual Conference theme 1988)
1886 -The Audubon Society, dedicated to the protection of birds and their natural habitats, is founded by George Grinnell, publisher of Forest and Stream magazine.
1892 Naturalist and writer John Muir co-founds (with Robert Underwood Johnson) and becomes president of the Sierra Club, which is dedicated to wilderness preservation and outdoor recreation.
1894 - The NYS Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve is declared "forever wild".
1898 The European-trained forester Gifford Pinchot becomes the head of the U.S. Division of Forestry. Pinchot shapes U.S. conservation policy—and becomes the bane of radicals who object to his emphasis on managing, rather than preserving, natural resources.
1901-09 -Theodore Roosevelt is the "conservation president." During his administration, more than 225 million acres of land become part of the U.S. Forest Service, and approximately 50 wildlife refuges and 150 national forests are created.
1916 -The National Park Service is established.
1958 –Outdoor Education leaders (representing several SUNY Schools and NYS Education Department) form a committee to explore need for statewide organization to guide and promote the growth of OE. The Western NY Outdoor Education Association met in Syracuse…
-Group included representatives from Syracuse University, SUNY Cortland, Albany, Ithaca, Plattsburgh, Buffalo, and others.
-Long Island Outdoor Educators group started up
-The Western NY and LI groups published newsletters
-Several ‘members’ of these groups/universities hosted summer programs for SUNY schools
-The first Conference for this group was held at Sagamore
-Bob Eckert was elected 1st President
1962 -Silent Spring by aquatic biologist Rachel Carson exposes the harm caused by insecticides such as DDT. The book leads to the development of safer insecticides and to a ban on the sale of DDT within the United States…heightens the awareness of ordinary people, who demand new legislation aimed at protecting the environment—a word that enters common parlance around this time.
1964 –The Exploratory Committee –formed in ’58-petitioned SUNY Presidents Council to officially meet and communicate through and with SUNY support.
1967 – Committee members including Jerry Passer, George Fuge, John Weeks, Earl Hilfiker, Chip Hunter, Kent Reeves, Ernie Coons and others officially formed the New York State Outdoor Education Association (NYSOEA)
1968 -NYSOEA’s 1st Annual Conference was held at SUNY Cortland
-George Fuge elected 1st President
-NYSOEA ‘Regions’ were established using NY DEC Regions as guidelines
1970 - On April 22, Earth has its first official birthday celebration in the United States. More than 20 million people marched, demonstrated, and attend teach-ins on environmental topics.
-President Nixon forms the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
-The Clean Air Act is passed
1971-The international organization Greenpeace is founded.
1972 –By-laws and Constitution written, updated
-Communicator Journal for NYSOEA would be published 3 times per year
-Norm Skliar – Editorial Director
-$10 membership dues
-new address: Box 26, Syracuse NY
-Clean Water Act passed
1973 –logo designed, NYSOEA incorporated
-Regional workshops initiated
-Jerry Passer established Region X for ‘out of state’ members, known as ‘…the rest of the world…’
(Region X was a predecessor to ANCA, the Association of Nature Center Administrators, which was founded in 1989)
-Endangered Species Act passed
1974 -New Members Brochure – (membership = 654!)
-‘Brief History & Services of the Association’ written by Charlie Yaple
-Safe Drinking Act passed
1975 -NYSOEA became affiliate member of the Environmental Planning Lobby for NYS
-student group established
-Directory of Nature Centers, Outdoor Study Areas, and EE Centers completed, printed free for members
-Best of the Communicator available
1976 -Conference – established scholarships for students
-NYS Conservation Council partners w/NYSOEA for the 1st Summer Teachers Program
-NYS Environmental Voters Guide published monthly
1977 -Members Task Force established
-New ‘Think-About-It’ format
1979 -Annual Conference joins with Council on Outdoor Education of the American Association of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation to host the National Conference on Outdoor Education in Lake Placid.
-1300 participants … (legal situation brewing)
1980 -NYSOEA engages legal services re issues with Lake Placid Resort Hotel
-new office opened in Albany-Lou Ismay hired as manager
-Governor proclaims Outdoor Education Week Oct 12-19, 1980
-Communicator becomes The Outdoor Communicator
1981 -Lawsuit settled with Lake Placid Resort Hotel (financial windfall!)
1982 -Roger Tory Peterson highlighted Annual Conference
1984 -1st fundraising campaign launched – net $800.
-NYSOEA and NYS Environmental Council announces goal “…each student will acquire knowledge of the ecological consequences of choices made in the use of the environment and natural resources…”
1985 -Coleco Grant provided 2 computers; one each for the office and the Treasurer
-Atlantic Richfield Grant of $5k sponsor for the Conference.
-‘Connie and Conrad’ attend their 1st Annual Conference
1987 -Co-sponsored the Annual Conference with SUNY Cortland and the newly established National Coalition for Outdoor Educators
-office moved to Raquette Lake, SUNY Cortland Antlers Camp
-Endowment Fund Guidelines established
-Annual ‘raffle’ re-established
-The United States is one of 24 nations to sign the Montreal Protocol, an agreement to phase out production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
1989 -by-laws revised, establishing ‘term limits’ for officers
-Conference site rotations established
1990 -Legislative updates included in monthly newsletters
-Mission statement revised; long range plan initiated
1991 -Pathways to Outdoor Communication published twice a year. Outdoor Path published twice a year
-Editorial Boards re-established
-New term limits established for President at 2 years and President-Elect
1992 -‘Outdoor Connection’ debuts as news bulletin
-Office moved to Blue Mountain Lake – ADK Museum
-Silver Anniversary Conference held in ADK
-Northeast Field Guide to EE published – free to members
1993 -NYSOEA members placed on the Governor’s Task Force on EE
-1st Full Color ‘Pathways’
1994 -Governor’s Task Force designs 7 point Action Plan for NYS
-Co-sponsored with 2nd Coalition for Education in the Outdoors for 27th Annual Conference
-Office moved to Amsterdam NY … new logo
-1st Annual Winter Weekend!
1995 -The Worldwide Web prompted debates on ‘real vs virtual’ experiences…the debate continues…
1996 -‘Pathways’ and ‘Outdoor Connection’ become part of TAPROOT (Coalition for Education in the Outdoors publication) four times per year
1997 -30th Annual Conference
-1st ‘Resource Swap’ offered
-Affiliate member staff members establish network for staff exchange and professional development training opportunities
1998 -Founders Club established (another little windfall)
-NYSOEA begins publishing Pathways on its own
1999 -1st Pathways issue devoted entirely to ‘Literature’
-Dr. Helen Ross Russell featured
2000 -NYSOEA workshops & programs align to/with NYS Standards
-Pathways ‘single topic’ issues focused on ‘Standards and OE’ and ‘Partnerships’
2001 -Long Range Planning initiated
-Reflections on 9/11 and Outdoor Education: NYSOEA members, affiliates and agencies were forced to re-examine priorities, re-focus on the areas of their lives that they cherished to gain and appreciate new perspectives and insights.
-Jean Craighead George honored
-The head of President Clinton's Forest Service halts harvesting old-growth timber on public lands.
-President Bush refuses to sign an international environmental treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, to reduce global warming.
2003 -NYSOEA.org is up and running!
-College students’ assistance program offers discounts to attend the annual Conference
-EE Link unveiled
-The National Environmental Education Advancement Project – Capacity Building Component
2004 -Annual Conference held in the summer highlighting LI resources
-Diane Huber, Bill Monahan host 1st NYSOEA Outstanding Entertainer Show at Montauk Conference
-Executive Summary Published: Teacher Preparation and EE: Meeting Challenge in NYS
2005 -Members Survey project initiated
-Snapper Petta begins ‘Ramblings from Red Hill’ articles
-NYSOEA receives EPA’s Environmental Quality Award in the Education Category
2006 -Richard Louv publishes ‘Last Child in the Woods’ prompting an immediate (and positive, pro-active) reaction and response from private and public education-related organizations
- Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth is released, winning the former VP an Oscar and Nobel Prize.
2007 -Pathways Gets a New Look – FULL COLOR
-Office moves to new home at SUNY Cortland
-40th Anniversary Conference held Hunter Mountain, co-sponsored with the Mid-Hudson Teacher Center, the Ashokan Field Campus, and the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center.
-Diversity Committee is formed.
2008 -NAAEE publishes guidelines for Environmental Education that were accepted by the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education
-the Ashokan Field Campus becomes the Ashokan Center
-NYSOEA’s ‘List Serve’ phased out
2009 -DEC Campership program established
-The last printed issue of Pathways (now emailed to individual members and only printed for affiliate members and upon request)
-Web site implements ‘Discussion Forum’, ‘Photo Gallery’, and Affiliate Member ‘Events’ posting
-Environmental Literacy Statewide Plan underway
-The bald eagle is finally removed from the endangered species list
2010 -NYSOEA partners with NAAEE hosting combined Annual Conference(s) in Buffalo NY!!
- The EPA celebrates its 40th year.
2011 -By-laws amended
-Visioning Committee formed
-NYSOEA becomes strong advocate implementing Environmental Literacy Plan for NYS
-Annual Conference moved from Honors Haven to Villa Roma…due to overbooking at HH
-Tom Chapin performs at Ashokan Winter Weekend
-Statewide public/private ‘downsizing’ efforts affect NYSOEA
2012 -Environmental Literacy plan stalls–ELP moves forward w/guidelines from NY State Ed Dept.
-Hurricane Sandy impacts Annual Conference at Brookhaven Lab, Long Island
2013 -No Child Left Behind legislation re-introduced at Congressional level
-New affiliation with Western NY Environmental Alliance uniting many organizations working to restore and preserve the region’s natural environment
2014 -Facebook page launched
-Legacy project begins – 14 stories recorded
-Legacy Committee formed – begins working towards 50th Anniversary
-Green Teacher subscriptions a benefit for Affiliate members
- The Supreme Court ruled 6–2 on April 29 that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the authority to regulate air pollution emitted from coal plants that crosses state lines.
2015 -5 year plan updated
-Mission statement re-visited
-Next Generation Workshops/Standards offered at NYSOEA programs
-NY one of 50 states re-visiting Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP).
2016 -5-10 year plan re-visited
-EE week gains popularity with more events posted on website
-Pathways and Communication Committee re-named Communications & Technology Committee
-Twitter #nysoea2016 dedicated Conference hashtag
-Legacy committee goals: Conference; 1st 50 years, Home for the Archives; Endowment $100k
-EEAC-NYC partners for Annual Conference
2017-New Member Welcome packet
-50th Anniversary logo designed, Conference site confirmed
-SCA Recognition Ceremony held at Annual Conference
-‘ADK Experience’ for members at Raquette Lake
-iNaturalist project launched!
2018 -50th Anniversary Conference held at Affiliate member center, Greenkill YMCA in Huguenot NY
-Conference Committee ‘pays it forward’ with fundraising efforts to provide scholarship opportunities for; educators, interns, SCA / ECC members and college students to attend the Conference
-Endowment reaches $78
-Environmental Literacy Plan re-visited
2019 -The 51st conference brings an exciting new direction: “Outdoors is for Everyone: Equity, Access, and Inclusion in Outdoor Education
-Website updated and migrated from WordPress to the more user-friendly Weebly platform
-Moving closer to the $100K endowment goal: nearly $88K as of 1.30.19