Jennifer Rader, director of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Southeast Kansas Nature Center, was presented with the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environment Education (KACEE) Rising Star Award. The award, presented on April 10 at KACEE’s Environmental Education Awards Celebration in Manhattan, recognizes individuals who are new to the Kansas conservation and environmental education field but are already making an impact. Rader was hired by KDWPT to direct the nature center in Galena in 2013.
Rader’s parents, Mike and Ellen Rader, instilled in her a love for nature very early in life. As a young girl, she volunteered in outdoor events at Wilson State Park such as Eco-Meets and OK Kids Days. After graduating from Fort Hays State University in 2008, Rader worked in environmental education and took a leading role in developing innovative and engaging programs, including Kansas Wildscape’s Wildlifers program. The Wildlifers program encourages kids to earn “badges” by completing certain outdoor and wildlife-related tasks.
As director of the Southeast Kansas Nature Center, Rader uses her passion for wildlife and her creativity to reach people of all ages. She hosts preschoolers for story time, local school classes, and community groups.
Linda Phipps, the founder of the nature center notes about Jennifer, "I have seen seasoned nature lovers listen to every word she has to share. Every time I am around Jenn, I learn something new. She has a genuine love for and curiosity about nature and conservation and she shares that with everyone she meets.”
KACEE is a statewide nonprofit association of many public and private agencies, organizations, businesses and individuals that promotes and provides effective, non-biased and science-based environmental education for all Kansans.