Association for Environmental & Outdoor education


Our mission is to advance the impact of environmental and outdoor education in California

Staff & Board

AEOE is governed by the Board of Directors and the Executive Director. Please find our Board and Staff contact information below. Any general queries should be directed to our Executive Director, Estrella Risinger: director@aeoe.org.

AEOE governance team at the 2019 California Statewide Conference at Westminster Woods

STAFF

Estrella Risinger (she/her), Executive Director, director@aeoe.org

After 64 years as a solely volunteer-run organization, in January 2019, AEOE hired Estrella Risinger (she/her/hers) as the first Executive Director of AEOE. Estrella partners with the AEOE Board of Directors to expand our program offerings and educational opportunities, and increase the impact of environmental education within our state. Estrella started her career in the classroom, with summers spent exploring California and connecting youth to the natural world as an outdoor educator. Most recently, she served as the National Education Manager at NatureBridge, the largest education partner of the National Park Service. As the lead of the Residential Environmental Education Partnership on SEL, Estrella helped to launch the website Grow-outside.org, a Social and Emotional Learning Toolkit for Residential Environmental Learning Centers. She lives in Oakland, CA, where she is the mother of two active children who love being outside almost as much as she does. 



Gabe Germanow, Webmaster & Membership Coordinator, gabe@aeoe.org

Gabe (he/him/his) is a Naturalist at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School in Sonora and provides web support to AEOE part-time. He has been a member of AEOE since 2012, and has been the Webmaster since 2015. Gabe is an avid skier and hiker, and he loves carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  



BOARD OF directors

AEOE's Board consists of 9-19 directors. All Board members are volunteers. These dedicated leaders ensure that AEOE meets all fiscal and legal responsibilities while steering the development of the organization.

Officers


Ryan Mayeda (he/him)President & Chair, ryan@aeoe.org

Ryan studied marine biology at UC Santa Cruz, but his career path took a turn into the field of education as a park ranger, naturalist, museum interpreter, and then as an outdoor education director. He still misses going on research dives in the kelp forests of Northern California, but is enjoying his new role as Education Director at I Love a Clean San Diego. He also enjoyed his time as the Program Leaders Group (aka EOSM) Coordinator and a Member at Large on the AEOE Board before becoming the President & Chair. He loves working in this field, providing life-changing experiences to youth like he received when he was in 6th grade, and now exploring the outdoors with his young son!




Andrew Boyd-Goodrich (he/him), Vice President, andrew@aeoe.org

Andrew’s life mission is to make millions of people happy! He does that in his professional life as the Executive Director of Camp Ocean Pines, along the Central Coast in Cambria. Previously, Andrew worked for the YMCA of San Francisco at the Camp Jones Gulch and Point Bonita sites. He likes spending time with family and friends, old movies, arcane philosophical arguments, and Mexican food.




Katie Havens (she/her), Treasurer, katieh@aeoe.org

Bio coming soon


Kori Donley (she/her), Secretary, kori@aeoe.org

Kori Donley has happily devoted her life to being an educator and leader in Environmental and Outdoor Education. She has explored with students across the globe, from the Yukon to Patagonia and New Zealand to China. During her graduate studies in Natural Resources and Society, Kori partnered with climate scientists at the University of Idaho to design place-based climate change curriculum and lead professional development for high school teachers. From her experience as a contributor to the Grow-Outside Toolkit for Social Emotional Learning, she has led workshops throughout California to help educators and program leaders infuse SEL into every aspect of their programs. Previously serving as the Director of School Programs at Westminster Woods, and a member of the PD committee for the Sonoma EE Collaborative, Kori is now the 6th Grade Math & Science Teacher at Seven Peaks School in Bend, Oregon. Any time she spends time in the outdoors, it reinforces her motivation for engaging in this essential work. Her adventure partners include her husband, Eric, and dog, Marlow.

Board Members at Large

Alicia De Toro (she/her), alicia@aeoe.org

Alicia’s interest in the environment and outdoor education began as a student at De Anza College, where she now teaches. As a student, outdoor learning was appealing to Alicia and became a pertinent part of her educational experiences. Fieldwork was a large part of her undergraduate and graduate studies, whether in the wilderness or urban spaces. After returning to De Anza to teach Environmental Science and Studies, Alicia decided to pursue a doctorate in education focusing on organization and leadership. The knowledge gained from this program opened her eyes to the importance of equity and the environment. She incorporates into her teachings at the college to encourage her students to see the interconnectedness of the environment, society, and economy.


Allison Carss (she/her), allison@aeoe.org

Allison cares deeply about changing the trajectory of children's lives as a Talent Acquisition Program Manager at Bezos Academy, a nonprofit that is launching high quality, tuition free, Montessori inspired preschools in underserved communities across the US. When Allison is not recruiting educators, she spends her time exploring the beautiful parks and trails in Marin County with her husband, who is a conservation wildlife and landscape photographer. Allison was inspired to join AEOE given her experiences in school as a camper and cabin leader at YMCA Jones Gulch, and is impressed by the rich programmatic offerings for outdoor education in California. Her sister was a Naturalist Educator at YMCA Jones Gulch in La Honda & NatureBridge in the Marin Headlands. Allison is welcoming her first child soon and looks forward to showing him how to care for and conserve all the beautiful outdoor places and spaces California has to offer. Allison joined the board in 2022. 


Blanca Hernández (she/her), blanca@aeoe.org

Blanca Hernández (she/her/hers), Director of Programs & Partnerships at YES Nature to Neighborhoods, uses a strengths-based and healing-centered engagement approach to develop culturally responsive nature-based programs that cultivate the leadership of BIPOC youth and adults. Blanca has a B.A. from the University of San Diego and is a graduate of CompassPoint’s Next Generation Leaders of Color. She has been a panelist and presenter at various convenings including the Children & Nature Network, the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE), and with outdoor and EE partners on the importance of creating equitable and inclusive outdoor programs and organizational practices. She serves on Healthy Richmond’s and ChangeScale's Steering Committees, and on the board of directors of TOGETHER Bay Area and AEOE. Her self-care practices include painting, writing, and jogging with her dog, Bo. Blanca joined the board in 2020 and serves as the Awards Chair.


Katie Andersen (she/her), katie@aeoe.org

Katie Andersen is an Outdoor Education Specialist at Cuyamaca Outdoor School and the 2019 Southern California Environmental Educator of the Year. She began volunteering with AEOE in 2012 as the Southern Council Secretary, and served as Board Secretary between 2014-2021. Katie is a native San Diegan, but spent her college years in Northern California at Sonoma State University where she earned a BA in Environmental Studies before returning home to work on her teaching credential at San Diego State. When she's not busy with AEOE, Katie can be found serving with the California School Employees Association (CSEA). She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and their two dogs camping, rock climbing, and spending time in nature. Katie currently serves as Co-Chair of the Professional Development/Program Leaders Committee.




Lizz Atwood (she/her), lizz@aeoe.org

Lizz works at Camp KEEP in San Luis Obispo and provides environmental education to students from SLO and Kern counties. Previously, she worked in Special Education, as well as working for YMCA programs, Girl Scouts camp, and Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School. Her passion for outdoor education seems to grow every year and she looks forward to supporting the field as a graduate of AEOE's Environmental Educator Certification Program. When Lizz isn't leading hikes or teaching students, she enjoys time with her family, tabletop games, and adventures with her dog, Proton. Lizz joined AEOE's board in 2021. 





Mindy Schwartz (she/her), mindy@aeoe.org

Mindy Schwartz currently serves as the Education Director at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, where she develops programs, trains staff, and seeks out innovative ways to collaborate with community stakeholders. Mindy got her start as an environmental educator on the east coast, working at a variety of zoos, outdoor schools, and nature centers before settling into a Masters program at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. It was here that Mindy discovered classes in nonprofit management and her appreciation for the administrative (and often under-appreciated) side of environmental education. When not teaching, scheduling, or collaborating, Mindy can be found swing dancing, photographing, and parenting to her 2 young sons. Mindy joined AEOE's board in 2021. 




Nick Willford (he/him), nick@aeoe.org

Nick has been passionate for the outdoors since attending summer camp as a kid. That passion turned into a career working at residential camps across California. Currently he is a Senior Program Director at an Outdoor Science School in Santa Cruz, California. He enjoys his role in connecting Bay Area youth to nature and facilitating new ways to engage classrooms outdoors. Nick joined AEOE's board in 2021 and serves as Co-Chair of the Professional Development/Program Leaders Committee. 



Nikki Parrish (she/her), nikki@aeoe.org

Nikki's career began in Talent Relations and Special Events at HBO, where she took an interest in environmental education after attending a Green Living Workshop hosted by SustainableWorks.org. So inspired, she went on to train to be a Green Living Instructor herself and later transitioned to the nonprofit sector after earning a M.A. in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University. She jumped at the opportunity to be the first Program Administrator for UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge. Now, as Development Manager for UCLA School of the Arts & Architecture, she is a founding Co-Chair for its Anti-racism, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission where she established the UCLA Arts Racial Equity Fund. Nikki also sits on the UCLA External Affairs Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commission and is a board member of UCLA Lab School where she is Co-Chair of its Green Committee. She enjoys visits to the beach with her son and cooking new recipes with him. She's also an image consultant and personal stylist. Nikki joined AEOE's board in 2022 and will Co-Chair the Equity & Inclusion Committee. 


Board Nomination

AEOE's Board of Directors is recruiting new members to join our leadership team. Board members are the fiduciaries who steer AEOE towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as by making sure our organization has adequate resources to advance its mission. Our Board holds a wide range of skills and expertise. AEOE strives to serve and represent environmental and outdoor education across California. Our strategic plan calls for us strengthen the diversity and capacity of our network. We are looking for individuals who have a demonstrated dedication to our mission and can help reach new and innovative areas within our field. In an effort to better represent the vast diversity of programs and providers across the state, we strongly encourage individuals who identify as members of communities that have historically been marginalized within our field to apply (in particular, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks). Board terms start July 1. Interested in joining AEOE's Board? Read through our Board Member Responsibilities and then click here to nominate yourself or someone else to join our leadership team!


One way to get involved and to determine if board service might be for you is to join one of our active committees. Please reach out to Ryan at ryan@aeoe.org if you have skills and interests to contribute one of these areas:

  • Membership & Outreach
  • Conferences
  • Awards
  • Equity & Inclusion
  • Financial Development
  • Professional Development / Program Leaders
  • EE Certification & Credentials

Past board minutes can be accessed here:

Past Board Minutes from the current fiscal year (FY21) 

    AEOE's Bylaws can be accessed here (note: they were recently revised in 2020)

    AEOE Bylaws

      CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL & OUTDOOR EDUCATION

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      info@aeoe.org

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