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Randee Hokanson named MASWCD Educator of the Year

STEVENS COUNTY - Congratulations to Randee Hokanson who will receive the MASWCD (Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District) Educator of the year award at the Convention in December. Hokanson was nominated by the Stevens SWCD for her outstanding work in Conservation and Natural Resources education that she has done at SWELL (Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab) and in Stevens County.

Randee Hokanson has been teaching environmental lessons and activities at SWELL for the past 33 seasons - over 16 years. Her educator name is Ranger Randee. All the school districts in Stevens County, as well as one parochial school and students home schooled have participated in seasonal lessons offered. The age groups using the guidance of Ranger Randee are pre-school through 5th grade.

Each spring and fall season, 8-10 lesson plans are developed. Lessons are adaptable to different age levels, with educational disciplines built in to the learning plan. Lessons developed include lecture inspired by hands-on participation and discovery as it spontaneously occurs in an outdoor classroom.

Students reached are close to 3,000 per year. Ranger Randee also participates in the annual Conservation Day at SWELL, hosted by Stevens and Pope SWCD for 5th graders from those counties. She has organized Rendezvous at SWELL for the K-6th grade of Morris Area Schools. Rendezvous focuses on the historical interpretation of environmental topics. Lessons use all the senses, bringing education efforts into full acquisition. Both adults and children have benefited from the opportunities of having hands-on outdoor lessons led by a knowledgeable person. Native American storytelling incorporating environmental concepts is frequently used.

In May of 2010, Randee, who is the Director/Educator at the County Museum, was asked to conduct a workshop for the State Conference for Minnesota Extension Environmental Educators. She worked with two bus groups showcasing some of the educational techniques used at both the SWELL site and the Museum. Two schools from other counties have also requested lessons at SWELL as a result of successful efforts offered.

Initially the SWELL position was funded by a two-year grant. Local Water Planning and environmental boards saw its success and have offered continued support for the past 14 years.

Randee will be honored at the MASWCD Convention. She will receive her award on December 5, 2011 in Bloomington at the State Convention awards luncheon. Stevens SWCD staff and supervisors will be present to see her receive her state award.