2016 Howard Bell Award Honoree - Kim Laizer Image

2016 Howard Bell Award Honoree - Kim Laizer

The Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education is proud to bestow the honor of the Howard Bell Award for 2016 to Kim Laizer, Education Director, NatureBridge, Yosemite.  Those members who have attended past conferences will recognize Kim’s smiling face, as she has been an active AEOE Northern Council member, and council secretary, for some time. Kim was nominated for the Howard Bell Award by four different individuals, Mindy Wiper, Jacquline Ruggieri, Nick Carter and Pete Devine.

Kim is no stranger to accolades, winning the Matthew Baxter Award as well as the AEOE Northern Council’s Environmental Educator of the Year in 2002.

“Kim is an exemplary human in the field of outdoor education. She has made a respectable career out of what can sometimes be an itinerant experience. Kim is truly passionate about teaching, you can see it in the corner of her eyes and the way she holds herself while instructing others either in how to teach or teaching a group herself,” says Mindy Wiper, of NatureBridge, Yosemite.

“Kim always takes pride and perseverance in her job, and consistently pushes herself and others to excel and transform, not only by role-modeling it herself, but by verbally communicating in a light and fun way how to be your best.”

Kim is a proud Humboldt State University alumnae, and has worked for various outdoor education programs through the years; teaching at the San Joaquin Outdoor Education program, serving as a ranger for the National Park Service at Glacier National Park, as a Yosemite Institute Field Instructor, Mentor Teacher, then the Education Coordinator and now the Education Director at NatureBridge Yosemite.

Along with her full time job, Kim has dedicated herself to further the field of outdoor education for groups who may not traditionally become involved in environmental and outdoor education. She has served as a founder as well as the coordinator for the Joie’s Daisies scholarship fund, which provides scholarships to AEOE conferences to those who cannot afford the cost. She began an Educator Development Program, which  is designed to give educators from communities underrepresented in the field of environmental education the opportunity to further develop the skills, knowledge, and experience required to be highly effective environmental educators, in order to further diversify staff at NatureBridge, Yosemite. She heads the Armstrong Scholars program, which provides an opportunity for young women to backpack in Yosemite’s wilderness. Kim has also served as  AEOE’s Northern Council secretary since 2006.

Pete Divine states, “I consider Kim's contributions to YI/NBridge to be of statewide significance because of the size of the program, the organization's powerful presence in Yosemite NP, and because so many of the people she's influenced have gone on to considerable professional achievements in environmental education.”

Thank you, Kim, and congratulations on your outstanding achievements in the field of environmental and outdoor education. You are truly connecting the dots!