Contributing to the environment is one of the greatest concerns of our times. Recently, the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education has chosen Pittsburg State University Nature Reach Director Delia Lister as the recipient of their 2020 Excellence in Conservation and Environmental Education Award. This is an award which recognizes individuals who have made valuable contributions beyond their academic field.
Lister takes on a large variety of roles in her position at Pitt State.
“I think I have a pretty multi-faceted position,” Lister said. “It might be one of the most unique positions at PSU. I get work with every age group and work in many different settings. On any given day you might find me giving a traditional lecture on campus, presenting a live animal to a group of third graders in a local school, taking care of animals or training students to take care of animals.”
Lister is a PSU alumna, earning her bachelor’s degree from PSU in 2014 and Master’s in 2016.
“Well I first came to PSU as a student and earned both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at PSU,” Lister said. “I became a professional at this university. There is no way I would have stayed if I didn’t feel like I received a great education as a student or wasn’t contributing on a professional level many years later.”
Lister said there are many aspects of her work that excite her.
“The most exciting things about my work include getting to take students on study abroad/study away experiences as well as watch my students mature and grow over a relatively short period of time,” Lister said. “It’s a great feeling when a former student calls and says they landed their first job or were accepted into a graduate program.”
Lister believes in learning in a holistic manner.
“Like many people, I learned that the skills I have used the most in my position are not the skills I learned while sitting in a classroom,” Lister said. “Many skills can only be learned by experience and practice. I have also learned that it is incredibly important to have a network of people within your profession on which you can lean on and from which you can learn.”
After receiving the award, Lister said she felt honored, but the occasion was a little bittersweet.
“It is quite an honor and bittersweet,” Lister said. “I was lucky enough to have met John Strickler on a number of occasions, and I was very much looking forward to shaking the hand of the person for whom this award is named. I am sorry to say that he passed away a few days after I found out I was this year’s recipient. He was a giant in the world of environmental education and will be greatly missed.”
Lister has many goals for the future, after earning the award.
“In the next five years I hope to be continuing the work I am doing now,” Lister said “I would love to have a permanent professional staff member, even if only half time. We have so many more program requests than I can currently handle as a professional staff. I also want to spend more time training students to become environmental educators themselves.”