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Their NATURAL sense of WONDER

Experiencing Education through our Environment

  • Date: 07/20/2017 8:30 AM - 2:15 PM

The Natural Sense of Wonder 

6th Annual Teacher Symposium • Thursday, July 20, 2017
Keyser-Aday Theatre (LRC 105) • Virginia Highlands Community College
The cost is $10 • Click Here to Register Online

Registration/Payments: Using the link above, registration and payment can be completed online. If you have any problems using the online process, please contact Vota Thomas at VHCC, and she will help you get registered. Payments can also be mailed to the Office of Workforce Training and Continuing Education, P.O. Box 828, Abingdon, VA 24210, made in person at the Workforce Training Office, located in the Administration Building on the VHCC Campus, or by phone by calling Vota Thomas at (276) 739-2430 or (276) 739-2533.


8:30 AM  Registration/Check-In and Light Breakfast, provided by VHCC  
9:45 AM  Welcome: Phil Ferguson, Assistant Professor of English, VHCC  
10:00 AM  Keynote 1: Dr. Rick Van Noy 
 11:00 AM Break
11:30 AM  Keynote 2: Dr. Kevin Hamed 
12:30 PM  Book Sales and Signing, A Natural Sense of Wonder 
1:00 PM  Lunch, provided by VHCC 
2:15 PM   Content Area Conversation/Certificate Distribution (.55 CEUs)  


Rick Van NoyRick Van Noy is a Professor of English at Radford University. He is the author of two books, Surveying the Interior: Literary Cartographers and the Sense of the Place and A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature through the Seasons, which won the Reed award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment from the Southern Environmental Law Center. His writing has appeared in Appalachian Voices, Blue Ridge Country, Orion, and in the current summer issue of Creative Nonfiction. At present, he is working on a young adult novel about animal rescue and a work about climate change adaptation in the South.

Workshop Overview: Reading excerpts of A Natural Sense of Wonder, Van Noy will talk about creek walking, learning about birds, and digging for salamanders in the Appalachian Highlands. He will discuss the importance of educators in cultivating moments of wonder in children. Such moments are often uncharted, spontaneous and off the lesson plan (or standardized test), but a relationship with parent or teacher and a context in which to share can call them forth. He will describe how these journeys provide not only wonder but fresh air and exercise and improved problem-solving skills. And why the sense of wonder is the fountain from which further learning or engagement begins. One chapter in this text, “Holy Land” focuses on the work of Dr. Kevin Hamed, our second Keynote Speaker.


Kevin HamedDr. Kevin Hamed serves as Professor of Biology at Virginia Highlands Community College, He is widely respected among his peers in the scientific community as a leading expert on Appalachian salamanders and celebrated on the VHCC campus for getting students out of the classroom and into nature. By combining classroom lectures with research assignments in the region’s forest and wetlands, he provides students with experience collecting and recording data. Together, they have studied a variety of amphibians, fish, and mammals, and the resulting data has been used to facilitate change by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and other state, federal and local organizations charged with making land management decisions. He is a past recipient of the Chancellor’s Faculty Fellowship from Virginia’s Community Colleges, the VHCC Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching, the VHCC Faculty Award for Professional Excellence and the Virginia Professor of the Year from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 2009. Most recently, he was a recipient of the 2017 State Council for Higher Education Outstanding Faculty Award.

Workshop Overview: As a believer in experiential and hands-on learning, Kevin will share examples of student engagement in the natural world. He will introduce participants to the some of our local natural treasures that make the Southern Appalachians an ideal location for students of all ages to explore the nature. Fish, amphibians, crayfish, mosses, ferns, and wildflowers are a few examples of organisms that reach some of the highest species richness in our area. This abundant life provides educators at all levels and limitless resource for interactive topics and assignments. Additionally, Kevin will show how a course designed to explore the Mississippi Gulf Coast has launched the careers of future scientists and educators. Finally, he will provide strategies and advice for teachers interested in beginning or expanding their use of the natural world as an interactive classroom.




Rick Van Noy’s critically acclaimed book, A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature Through the Seasons, is available through the University of Georgia Press, as well as other book vendors. A limited number of books will be available for purchase at this year’s event, as well as a signing with the author and Dr. Kevin Hamed, the subject of the chapter, “Holy Land.”

Information from the publisher is available HERE.


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