We have heard this adage many times. And this blog is a great example of that kind of networking. I have long resisted this fact and tried very hard to be all things to all people. While the learning is exhilarating, it can be very exhausting! :)

I am currently involved in the Professional Environmental Educator Certification program in Kentucky. This super-intensive, months-long course has taught me many things. Among them, again, is the power of networking. There are about 20 of us in this group. Over the course of the workshops- we just completed workshop 3- many have gotten to know each other fairly well. Some of the group already knew each other from other pursuits. In this group, of which I am the only librarian, there are park managers, naturalists, forestry agents, extension agents, school teachers, a Girl Scout activities coordinator, employees of environmental education (EE)-related non-profits, directors of university and elementary EE programs and centers, an employee of the Division of Water, a zoo employee, 4-H employees, and more. But this is the thing: we all do basically the same thing. We provide programming for children and adults, in varied settings, that relate to the natural world. Most have some sort of advanced degree, but not all. Many are young, some are a little more ‘”mature.” All are passionate about EE. Some are working on advancing in current jobs, some are looking toward future jobs or careers. We come from a variety of backgrounds, and from all over the state. Much of this is true for us as librarians as well, just without the EE emphasis. But we all do basically the same thing.

Being involved in this group has again solidified for me the value of knowing people who can expand your reach beyond your own capabilities. Indirectly through a member of this group, I have booked outreach visits by the Kentucky Reptile Zoo for our Summer Reading programs. Through other members of the group, I now have geographically close contacts with whom I can share programming resources. And I have a wide variety of resources available to me from all across Kentucky and beyond. While they had always been there, I hadn’t really been aware of them and what they could provide.

Extension offices have many and varied outreach programs, resources, and sometimes, materials available for use. Universities usually have people, programs, and centers that can offer help for just about any kind of program you can imagine. The Division of Water, as another example, does a lot of outreach programming, ranging from talks for adults to hands-on programming for kids. Parks and recreation centers may or may not have outreach services, but they often have on-site programs in which libraries and librarians could partner. These opportunities not only broaden the audiences you are potentially reaching, they help to solidify the concept of the library as an integral part of the community.

As there is more and more emphasis on STEM programming, it may be even more important to reach out to many of these types of resources. STEM programming is often heavy on the “hard” sciences, technology, and engineering. It could just as easily be related to the environment. These various resources, like the curricula discussed in a previous post, can provide a vast array of programs, and often at low or no cost. Below are some Kentucky examples of the kinds of offices and resources that should be available in just about any location, and which via web offer resources in a much more global way.

These are resources that would obviously be most helpful locally to librarians in Kentucky, but the web resources are available to anyone. And this list gives a good example of the types of things to look for in searching for resources.

Happy connecting!