2017 Howard Bell Award Honoree - Steve Van Zandt
Beneath the beautiful redwoods of Camp Jones Gulch, with an audience of outdoor educators and banana slugs, AEOE presented the Howard Bell Award for achievements in environmental and outdoor education to Steve Van Zandt, Program Manager/Principal of San Mateo County Outdoor Education.
Jymn Meier, who nominated Van Zandt for the award, recalls, “I remember the first time I met Steve Van Zandt. It was at my first AEOE Conference in the early 90's. I was amazed at how many wonderful people I met and interacted with, but left inspired and empowered by Steve's "Keeping the magic alive workshop". He honored the current teaching trends while reminding us that, at its core, our mission is to connect children to nature. I revisited his workshop some 20 years later and he has literally kept the magic alive both within himself and sharing his passion with us all.
Steve has trained hundreds of Naturalists during his time at SMOE. Many have gone on to have long inspired tenures in environmental education. I have personally worked with many of Steve's former interns and all have been incredible. While I believe outdoor educators are amazing in general, it's easy to see the impact of Steve's mentorship.”
Steve's contributions to AEOE are monumental. He has led workshops at conferences, directed incredible skits and performed on stage as member of the Banana Slug String Band. The Slugs were awarded The Howard Bell Award as a group in 1997, and 20 years later Steve is honored again for his individual contributions to Outdoor and Environmental Education.
Steve is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara in Environmental Studies/Geography. He received a multiple subject teaching credential from San Francisco State and an Administrative Credential from San Jose State. He worked as a Naturalist at SMOE, Exploring New Horizons Outdoor Schools, Youth Science Institute and as a Co-Director/Intern Coordinator at Hidden Villa. He also was a Co-Manager for the Pigeon Point Youth Hostel. He was a kindergarten, 3rd and 4th grade classroom teacher and a K-7th grade Life Lab/ESL teacher. He is a founding and active member of the Banana Slug String Band. He is returning to SMOE for a 24th year.