Renee Simmons Raney 

Renee Simmons Raney had an unusual childhood on her grandfather's farm in Choccolocco, Alabama. She spoke to the animals, interacted with the fairy folk, was encouraged to IMAGINE by her family, and learned to respect even the tiniest portions of the natural world. Most people lose touch with the enchantment…but not Renee. As she grew up, she learned to share this magic with others to inspire a respect for natural landscapes and conservation of wild places and land. Over the past two decades Renee has developed, implemented and assessed environmental education programs for approximately one million participants through her work as the director of the nationally accredited Georgia-Alabama Land Trust’s Conservation Education Institute, as the assistant director of Jacksonville State University Field Schools, and as the director of education of the Smithsonian affiliate Anniston Museum of Natural History. She has recently accepted the position of Park Operations Supervisor of Events with Cheaha State park and she launched a philanthropic project lovingly named "Wunderkind Institute of Nature Discovery (WIND)" which connects people of all ages and backgrounds to environmental education, arts, and wellness opportunities. ​She has also performed storytelling and fairy house workshops for audiences in twelve states and three countries. Her book, Hairy Scary but Mostly Merry Fairies: Curing Nature Deficiency through Folklore, Imagination, and Creative Outdoor Activities, was launched from NewSouth Books in Montgomery, AL on February 23, 2017, an honor for her especially since her mentor and supporter was the late marvelous Katherine Tucker Windham whose work is also published by NewSouth. Renee is the recipient of awards such as the Roosevelt Ashe Southeastern U.S. Outstanding Conservation Educator and Excellence in Environmental Education recognition from Oxford University. Renee is certified through Cornell University in Civic Ecology Assessment. She has performed storytelling and fairy programs for audiences in twelve states and three countries. Her first book Calico Ghosts, was blessed by Kathryn Tucker Windham who, after reading the book, handed Renee her old black click pen and said, “Take my pen and continue to inspire imagination across the South.”
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