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Association for Environmental & Outdoor education

AEOE strengthens environmental education in California by connecting providers, building professional expertise, and championing environmental literacy and outdoor learning.


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  • December 05, 2022 2:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Last week, Save California Salmon, the 2022 Organization of the Year announced that the new Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Science and Management Junior High Curriculum is out! It can be found at The press release can be read in its entirety below. 

    PRESS RELEASE: New Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Science Curriculum Aims to Teach California Students About Native People, Science and the Environment

    For immediate release: Nov. 28th 2022

    New Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Science Curriculum Aims to Teach California Students About Native People, Science and the Environment

    Nov. 30th online curriculum event will feature Native Educators, Scientists, and Families, Teacher’s Trainings to follow in February 2023   

    For More Information:

    Charley Reed, Education Director, Save California Salmon 707 458-5205 

    Regina Chichizola, Save California Salmon 541 951-0126 

    Klamath River, California- A free new curriculum released for Native American Heritage Month aims to teach California middle school students about Northern California’s environment, and how Native American people use cultural practices and science to care for the environment and the people. Lessons focus on issues such as climate change, oceans, estuaries, fire, and rivers along with keystone and culturally important species, such as salmon, abalone and fire adapted plants. 

    The curriculum meets junior high school standards in sciences, history, language art, visual arts, and social studies and fills a critical need for Native American studies and climate and environmental sciences curriculum and lessons, in public schools. 

    As a Hupa, Yurok and Karuk person living in the mid-Klamath basin, I always felt as if I lived in two parallel worlds.One being immersed into cultural worldviews and another in western education.” explained Save California Salmon’s education director Charley Reed. “There was separation between who I was and what I was expected to learn. It has, and continues to be, a lifelong effort to Indigenize educational spaces so that Indigenous students can see themselves, their history and examples of resilience in classrooms. I believe that this TEK and Science Curriculum is a step to achieve that effort.”

    Proponents of the curriculum identify California’s state standardized curriculum as it relates to Native American people in California is not only exclusionary, but factually incorrect. Existing Core Curriculum frequently teaches about Native Peoples in the past tense instead of recognizing the critical role that Indigenous Knowledge plays in environmental and other sciences. 

    For over a hundred years, Native people have largely not been able to manage the land and water, or practice their cultures. This exclusion of  traditional practices from the landscape has contributed to California’s climate and water crises, and created social injustices and health issues for native people. In the past, the school systems, and particularly boarding schools, have been a big part of oppressing Native cultures. Today schools have the opportunity to embrace Indigenous Knowledge, thereby supporting climate resilience, healing and social justice efforts.

    "Tribes have been long advocating to bring back Indigenous land management practices but it hasn't been until recently that traditional burning has been back on the landscapes" explained Reed. "We have been impatiently waiting for the opportunity to have a prominent role in stewardship. Now, unfortunately we are having to fix big problems that we were originally excluded from voicing concerns about, like dam removal, massive fires, and restoring estuaries."

    Currently, the only standardized curriculum in California related to Native peoples glorifies violence and painful histories, such as the California gold rush and mission system. These histories gloss over California’s genocidal history and erase the fact that Native people are still here, practicing their cultural traditions, protecting the land and combating climate change. In addition to having detrimental effects on Native students, this creates a situation where politicians and agency employees who are tasked with protecting the environment, and working with Tribes, know nothing about the Tribes or their practices. 

    This situation is particularly challenging to native youth who are studying to be future leaders such as Hoopa Valley Tribal youth Danielle Frank. Frank, the former president of the Hoopa High School Water Protector Club, has been featured as an up and coming climate leader by Vogue Magazine. 

    “If we are going to have an equitable future in California we need to deal with climate change, fires and dwindling water supplies, but we can not tackle these issues without changing our way of thinking,” explained Frank. “California's people largely don’t understand how to care for, and not exploit, the land. Native People hold this knowledge. Teaching this curriculum in schools is a way to get students to care for the land and make learning about the climate and science relevant to them.” 

    Frank explains that for instance, California Tribes have always burned the forest with low intensity burns. This was not only to protect their communities, but for the health of the forest and traditional foods such as acorns and weaving materials. The loss of this practice, coupled with climate change, has led to higher intensity, larger fires along with unhealthy acorn trees and basket making materials. “This is a classic feedback loop that students can see for themselves.” 

    Save California Salmon will host a zoom webinar on Wednesday Nov. 30th. at 6pm featuring Native American scientists, Traditional Practitioners, parents and educators that either helped design the curriculum, or are teaching TEK and Native American studies and sciences.

    The public can join at A TEK curriculum teachers training will be held in February 2023. Schools can sign up to get Save California Salmon’s youth centered newsletters and curriculum poster packets. 

    The curriculum can be found at: and the videos from the series are at

    All curriculum, online classes, and newsletters are currently free, however SCS is holding a holiday fundraiser, and is always looking for funding sources. Donations can be made at or through facebook. 

  • June 08, 2022 3:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On behalf of Ten Strands, the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI), and AEOE, we are pleased to award Save California Salmon as this year's EE organization of the year. Save California Salmon (SCS) is dedicated to policy change and community advocacy for Northern California’s salmon and fish dependent people. They support the fisheries and water protection work of the local communities, and advocate effective policy change for clean water, restored fisheries and vibrant communities. SCS also supports youth-led action centered on cultural and educational advocacy, which is intertwined with watershed action in California’s salmon-dependent Tribal communities. Click here to access the full press release. 

  • November 20, 2021 3:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Sama Wareh, M.S – Southern California 2021 Environmental Educator of the Year

    Note from AEOE’s Executive Director: Sama and I had a chance to connect over the phone, where I learned more about her story – what brought her into this field and what has sustained her. What follows are the notes from our conversation. Please join me in celebrating Sama’s contributions to the field of environmental and outdoor education and the many lives she’s impacted over the year. 

    For us (practicing Muslims), environmental stewardship is supposed to be a part of our religion. When I started 16 years ago, I felt as though I was among the minority in my community who was trying to learn more about the environment and sustainability. It’s been really cool to see the progress and number of community members interested in also making it their educational and lifestyle goal. Communities who have struggled just to make a living and fit into society have had a disconnect with barely just trying to get acquainted with a new culture and get by. It’s a privilege to go camping or hiking, or even to have a car to get you to the trail. This next generation are the ones starting to bring back the older generation into it. Budding naturalists, they take an elderly community (largely refugees and immigrants) out on hikes once a month. While the elders may have never been on the trail before, they recognize some of the plants from their home countries. It’s such a wonderful cross-generational opportunity to share knowledge and connection. 

    My parents are immigrants and they came here from Syria. They didn’t have time to take us camping, or even know how to do that. We didn’t go hiking, but we did picnic. We really knew how to picnic! Now I’m teaching in these same parks, but out on the trails farther out. I never knew that there were trails there. Now I take my mom out to these places. 

    My uncle in Syria was my main inspiration to be a naturalist. He was a healer, a homeopathist. He healed my eye once with white sage. When I was out of college, interested in working with animals, I applied to work with Inside the Outdoors. Based on my interest in animals they thought I could be a naturalist. My first day of training, they walked me around the site, teaching me about the native plants. I learned that the Tongva used white sage as an eye wash. It all came together for me in that moment. I knew that I had found my calling for the rest of my life. And that’s what I’ve done since. 

    I worked at Inside the Outdoors for several years, and then at the Environmental Nature Center. I then went to Alaska, hoping to study glaciology and learn the landscape. When I returned, I was still connected with my previous students. I was encouraged to start a school by some of the parents. I was concerned about having to be in an administrative role and not wanting to be disconnected from students. Dr. Khadeeja and Syma were so encouraging, we decided to found Art & Wilderness Institute together. During Covid, we got a lot of interest from the community and women in particular. They wanted to get outside, but were afraid and didn’t know where to start. We’ve familiarized more than 100 women with our trails and wildlife and have trained 10 women to be hiking leaders. 

    There is a saying of the Prophet: “The earth is green and beautiful and God has appointed you his stewards over it.” There’s a word in Arabic, khulafa. It means inheritors/stewards and many times in the Quran it is alluded to. When they’re reminded of that it’s a different mindset. I’m going on a hike and I’m protecting this trail because it’s who I am to do this. At a lot of our mosques they’re still using styrofoam and our students are speaking up and trying to reduce waste - it’s coming from them! The kids are so awesome, they are going to take care of this earth. Hearing them talk about nature and learning about the native plants and animals is so inspiring. 

    I created these trading cards with my art hoping to get kids excited that you have to earn. And some are harder than others to earn, like octopus: you have to spot it and conduct a stewardship project. It’s been a really fun learning tool, a resource that these kids love. We have 70 cards now. We even have a contest where kids can submit their artwork to be added to the connection. [Editor's note: You can purchase them through our partner Acorn Naturalists.]

    The Art and Wilderness Institute has been a snowball effect. We’ve been fundraising for scholarships to get more kids involved - it was actually spearheaded by one of our students, a 9-year-old, who wanted to support a family’s involvement. It’s provided an organic space for the community to get together, have these amazing experiences, and take ownership. It’s been beautiful to watch. I am so grateful, I learn so much from the parents and kids and am so grateful to be part of this humble community. We got to adopt a state park, work on the maps for it, how we would incorporate trails, and replant it. One of our students is stepping into a management position of stewarding this place. This is our earth, we’re trying to save the planet. We have so much work to do. Kudos to all the environmental education organizations out there doing this work – it’s going to take all of us, working up our sleeves. We’re up against consumer culture. Part of why I do what I do is because of how much I didn’t know when I was younger. The earth is a great teacher and the earth’s pace is slow and forth going, and that’s the pace we’re trying to keep up with and be consistent. One project we have is to plant a plant for every kid who signs up for a class - that they get to plant - to help offset the carbon impact of their attendance. Our next step is to do bigger trees. But you start small. If everybody brings their A-game we have a whole lot of awesome going around. 

    We really just have this one Earth that we’ve inherited. It’s our responsibility and we will be held accountable for what we do on this Earth, how we treat community, and what we teach these kids. I know we all have habits that can be bad and it’s hard to live a zero waste life, I know it’s not easy, but every day we can try to do a little better. We can all make a big difference in how we live. Consistency is key. And we’re running out of time with what we’re up against in the carbon mess that we have. I don’t know what this next generation will face, we have a limited time to make a difference in our communities and the environment. The question to ask ourselves every day is: did I learn something new and was I kind to the earth today? And if I wasn’t, what can I do tomorrow to make up for today?

    When I worked at Inside the Outdoors and Environmental Nature Center, I learned a lot from my co-workers. On every journey we’re on, it’s important to look around and see who you can learn from. I’ve learned a lot from my co-workers and I’m so grateful for every step of my journey. 

    Learn more about Sama’s organization at: 

  • August 10, 2021 4:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Environmental and Outdoor Education Community,

    We recently learned about the deaths of two valuable members of our community. Please join us in celebrating their lives and contributions to environmental and outdoor education. 

    With care,

    Your friends at AEOE


    We were greatly saddened to hear of the recent deaths of two environmental and outdoor learning champions: 

    rikki (lowercase preferred) Shackelford

    rikki was a long time AEOE member, regular conference attendee, and was honored as the Northern Environmental Educator of the Year in 2005. A falconer, poet, and gifted educator with a deep passion for nature, rikki touched the lives of countless students and staff through his career, including time spent at Web of Life Field (WOLF) School, Exploring New Horizons, Lawrence Hall of Science, and Bay Area Teen Science. rikki’s passing was unexpected and he will be greatly missed by our community. 

    Photo: rikki and his red-tailed hawk

    Tom Preston

    A 2013 Howard Bell awardee for lifetime achievement in environmental and outdoor education, Tom was the former Camp Director of Camp O-Ongo and Camp O-Ongo Outdoor Education Center in Running Springs, CA. His dear friend Jim Sims, also a long-time AEOE supporter, shared at the time of his award: “I know of no other person whose total life work has so positively impacted the lives of thousands of children and youth as they were involved in outdoor education and camping under Tom’s leadership.” In addition to his contributions to the field, Tom was a valued husband, father, grandfather, brother, mentor, counselor, veteran, and friend.

    Photo: Tom, receiving the Howard Bell Award in 2013

    Please join us in sending condolences to Tom and rikki’s loved ones and helping us to honor their memories. 

  • July 20, 2021 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Following the 2021 award ceremony, Miho was willing to sit down with Estrella Risinger, AEOE's Executive Director, and expand on her background and teaching approach. We hope you will enjoy learning more of Miho's story and are inspired as we are!

    Please tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to this work. Your name is especially powerful. Would you be willing to share? 

    I was born and raised in an urban industrial area in Tokyo. As a curious and athletic city kid, I always loved being outdoors and finding nature in the concrete jungle. I remember discovering a family of rats living under the pavement on our street. I tied a piece of cheese with a string and sent the bait into a hole in the pavement. I waited and slowly pulled the cheese out of the hole. I saw nothing. I had to be more patient! I did it again and waited longer. Sure enough, this time I saw a mouth and whiskers following the cheese as I pulled it out! With excitement, I pulled the cheese too fast and the rat went back in. On my third try, I pulled the cheese out very slowly until I could see the body of the rat. My hypothesis was accepted. And I moved on to a bike ride without cleaning up. When I came back, the entire neighborhood was out. Apparently, the rat family came out to feast on the cheese that I left. I got in big trouble for that.  

    When I was in high school, I watched a BBC program called Yellowstone in Winter. The program showed a bison which was struggling to survive over the harsh environment. There was a woman park ranger next to the animal, explaining that her job is to witness the dying bison, not to rescue the animal because the park is there to protect the entire ecosystem that allows nature to do what it's supposed to do. I was so struck by that concept, thinking that someday I would work in a US national park teaching people about nature. I'm sharing this story because some of us environmental educators were furloughed or laid off from in-person teaching during this pandemic and had no choice but to adapt to delivering online lessons, potentially feeling less effective. But know that the media and online learning could be inspiring and a potentially life changing experience for students. It certainly was for me.

    My dream to work as an environmental educator in a national park came true. And I think this vocation was determined when I was born. Japanese parents make a wish for their children and embed it in the characters of their child’s name. My parents named me Miho with the character 民 (“mi”), which means “people,” as the first part of my name. Inherent in this character is a reference to democracy where all people’s voices are heard and valued. The second character, 穂 (“ho”), means “rice,” the staple food of Japan. The year I was born, the Japanese government passed a law that discouraged Japanese farmers from producing rice in an effort to grow the market for imported produce. As proponents of local, sustainable agriculture, my parents fiercely opposed this law. They valued rice fields as a symbol of reciprocity with nature that has shaped Japanese way of life and our culture. By giving me this name, my parents hoped that I would become a protector of people, culture and environment. In addition, my birthdate is the day that the US Congress officially recognized it as Women’s Equality Day.

    With my name and my birthdate, I was put on the path to seek ways of being and living that value what I call 5Es- Empathy, Equity, Environment, Education, and Empowerment. When I think about it, my career as an environmental educator and an advocate for increasing outdoor access and opportunities for all people, especially for women and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color embrace all of these 5Es. 

    I love seeing you work with young people and the way you bring such case and compassion to your work, striving to meet them where they are at and provide an inclusive learning environment. Can you share about your teaching philosophy? (Maybe share your ABCs)

    It's really important to meet my students where they are for a few reasons. First, it calls for a practice of a student-centered approach and as a result, I can better provide what they need to feel connected to themselves and to those around them, including nature. Second, it changes the power dynamic between teachers and students. We can exist in the dynamic of dual responsibility to meet our mutual goals to teach, learn, and grow together. I use what I call Miho's ABC, a simple & kinesthetic accountability practice, to hold ourselves accountable. "A" stands for Aim high, do your best, "B" stands for Being in the moment, "C" stands for Care. I introduce this at the beginning of my teaching and consistently use it as a way to assess where we are and how we want to be as a group. Third, it pushes me to seek understanding of people coming from all different social locations and experiences with a constant self-evaluation of my own assumption and bias. It requires empathy.

    You talk a lot about representation and the importance of centering the perspectives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in this work. I absolutely agree. There is so much work we need to do as a field in building a more just and sustainable movement. Can you talk about the importance of directing resources not just towards hiring and recruitment, but towards developing an organizational culture where staff of color truly feel like they belong? 

    I've been seeking the answers to the question and I will share what I think it's important to pay attention to. 

    Your question makes me think of this quote by Maya Angelou: "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I remember how my co-workers and supervisors took their time on the job or off the clock to show curiosity and genuine interest in who I am and to learn my stories. They made me feel that I matter, that I am part of the community and that my voice counts. I felt seen and valued, and have a place in this community. I felt encouraged to bring something that makes this place better and I have people who have shared values and interests. These are a few examples of a sense of belonging. It's a feeling that is created in relation to one another. 

    In order to create the sense of belonging, the individuals and organizations must value and invest the time, energy, and resources to cultivate the relationship with one another in various spaces. Affinity space is very critical for both white and staff of color. White affinity space can be used for learning/unlearning ways of being, knowing and thinking of white people (i.e. history, white supremacy culture, etc.) instead of talking about how to help people of color. I want white people to talk about whiteness, not about me, and interrogate themselves, realizing that we all need to be free to liberate all people. 

    In addition to being an educator, you are an activist, a filmmaker, a cyclist, a leader. What gives you hope and keeps you engaged in this work?

    I am driven by purpose, not by hope. Hope is externally driven so you seek out and grasp on it. You can lose hope when the outcome is not what you expected. On the other hand, purpose is internally driven. No matter what the outcome is, you have a reason to pursue your purpose and you continue to work towards what you are destined for. For me, my purpose is written in my name - a creator of greater democracy and protector of people, culture, and environment - so all the various roles I play whether I am an educator or activist, are manifestations of how I meet my purpose for the greater good. 

    I learn this way of existing from nature. During the pandemic, I became obsessed with learning about honey bees, particularly Japanese honeybees. I learned that an average honey bee will make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey before it dies. To me, it is so insignificant as an individual. But I don't think the individual bee contemplates whether their contribution is too small or worth it. Or they debate with each other whether they should keep doing what they are doing or not. They just get to work until their wings can no longer carry them. Yet as a collective, they make up to 100 pounds of honey. That is more than enough for their siblings they have not yet met to sustain the hive. 

    Learning about the honey bees assures me that I'm part of the collective movement that leads us to liberation for all beings. Knowing that my contribution has a place and meaning is good enough for me to keep going. Change takes time. The process is nonlinear. I need to relax. Pace myself. Smell the flowers. Climb the mountains. Collaborate. And...let's get to work! 

  • July 14, 2021 4:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Environmental and Outdoor Education Community,

    In addition to what I hope is a restful and rejuvenating summer, this time of year can be one of transition: we watch the sun shift its position across the sky; we make preparations for a new school year, hiring staff and revising curriculum; we await the bounty of the summer’s harvest, observing eagerly as our efforts bear fruit. At AEOE, we are undergoing our own transitions, welcoming in new leaders to our Board of Directors, saying goodbye to outgoing ones, and setting a new slate of Officers to help guide our Executive Team. While I am looking forward to the changes to come, I also feel sadness at the loss that these changes represent. This past weekend I attended an event hosted by Justice Outside and the Segora Té Land Trust, both based here in the Bay Area, where I live. The facilitator asked us to share a plant that was meaningful to us (I chose lupin). After we shared, I was struck by a comment they made invited us to make space for the range of emotions that might have been unearthed by the reflection – and appreciated the reminder that complexity is a natural part of life. It’s always good to remember to be gentle with yourself and with others, making space for all the ways we experience the world. Whatever transitions you are experiencing this summer, I hope they are met with grace and compassion.  

    In community,

    Estrella Risinger

    AEOE Executive Director


    Board Officers

    Note from outgoing AEOE Board President & Chair, Reed Schneider:

    Dear AEOE members and EE community,

    For nine years it was my great honor to be the President and Board Chair of AEOE. With gratitude and pride for all our team has accomplished, I am now stepping back from the leadership team. 

    My gratitude begins with the founders of AEOE back in 1954. From the foundation that previous board members laid, we have been able to accomplish so much. During my tenure, I served with countless board members, some who dedicated multiple terms to advance our mission. To all of you, thank you for your dedication in supporting EE in California. Together we accomplished so much, from broadening and strengthening our mission, launching a certification program, hosting dozens of amazing conferences and professional development seasons, reviving and expanding the program leaders group, and of course hiring AEOE’s first ever executive director--the incredibly talented and thoughtful Estrella Risinger. 

    Two outdoor education programs supported me during my volunteer tenure at AEOE, and without their support I wouldn’t have been able to commit these last nine years to AEOE. Sierra Outdoor School in Sonora took a big chance on a dreadlocked 25 year-old to run their internship program, and allowed me many hours of work time to dedicate to AEOE. NatureBridge, an incredible leader in the field, allowed me to expand my network and build a bigger vision of EE in California. 

    Finally, my deepest gratitude and respect go to Tracey Weiss, AEOE’s Vice-president. She was my confidant, coconspirator, thought partner, and biggest champion of advancing EE in California that I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

    A big warm welcome to Ryan Mayeda, our new Board President and Chair. Ryan is a veteran of EE and has been a dedicated and thoughtful AEOE board member for 10 years. I am thrilled to see him at the helm of such a great board, and look forward to seeing where the vision and leadership of Estrella and Ryan will take AEOE next. 

    With much love and appreciation for all of you out there doing wonderful things in EE,

    Reed Schneider

    Note from incoming Board President & Chair, Ryan Mayeda:

    Dear AEOE,

    AEOE has supported my professional and personal growth since 2011, first as an individual member, then volunteering with our professional development events, and now as a Board Member. It's exciting to be celebrating my AEOE 10 year anniversary as the organization's new Board Chair. I am fully committed to using an equity and inclusion lens as we advance the impact of environmental and outdoor education across California, promoting a sense of belonging as we expand our community, and continuing to support our members just as I have been supported over the years!


    Ryan Mayeda

    In addition to the transition of our Board President & Chair, Katie Andersen is stepping down as AEOE’s Secretary. We appreciate Katie’s many years of service in this role, maintaining our records and keeping us organized, and are grateful for Kori Donley for taking on these responsibilities. 

    Board of Directors

    We want to express our deep gratitude to outgoing board members, Kat Montgomery and Kelly Prendiville. Kat and Kelly spent countless hours successfully leading our Awards Committee and supporting our conferences as Registrar and Workshop Coordinator, respectively. We wish them the best as they step into new roles and settle into their homes on the East Coast. 

    Please join us in welcoming Alicia De Toro, Lizz Atwood, Mindy Schwartz, and Nick Willford to our Board of Directors. AEOE is proud of our commitment to virtual leadership, bringing thoughtful leaders onto our team that hold a variety of positions, from field naturalist to tenured faculty to Program Director. Our four new Directors are based across the state and come from a range of EE settings, including higher education and community-based partners, and represent programs that offer residential outdoor science school, preschool programs, summer camp, the YMCA, and virtual programming. You can read their full bios on our website. Welcome, Alicia, Lizz, Mindy, and Nick!

  • July 01, 2021 4:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Please join us in congratulating AEOE's first cohort of Environmental Educator Certification Program graduates! This outstanding group of EE professionals (including residential outdoor school instructors, classroom teachers, higher education professors, garden educators, city employees, zoo and park staff, and emerging leaders in community-based organizations) spent the past year demonstrating their skills, reflecting on their practice, and building up their professional networks. We are proud of the successful launch of this program and are so impressed by the care, professionalism, intention, and creativity the certification graduates put into developing and implementing their final action projects. Click here to see the list of graduates and their final action project presentation title slides. We look forward to working with another year of EE certification candidates! 


    Your friends at AEOE

  • April 22, 2021 4:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Environmental and Outdoor Education Community,

    This week has brought quite a rollercoaster of emotions. I feel hopeful and full of excited anticipation for our spring conference and all the enthusiasm we’re seeing around Earth Day (check out to participate in an inspiring and uplifting project encouraging messages of hope for our planet!). That excitement has been tempered by the range of feelings brought forth by the verdict announced in George Floyd’s murder. As a white woman, I can only begin to imagine what it has been like to be Black in this country waiting on this verdict. I do know what it’s been like as a mom and an educator, trying to prepare myself to come up with adequate words to describe to my kids why our system failed its citizens...again. I didn’t even realize I had been holding my breath until I felt the sense of relief that flooded me when I got to have a different kind of conversation, one of hope, of accountability. This is just one moment, one verdict, but I sure hope it marks a sea of change. As you celebrate Earth Day this year – planting trees, picking up litter in your neighborhood, removing invasive species, or pledging to decrease your reliance on disposable plastic products and fossil fuels, please consider taking a moment of silence for George Floyd and for all the other people whose lives and dignity have been robbed from them because of the deeply entrenched racism in our society. I hope that this verdict is just the beginning. That we will continue to work together towards accountability and justice. Because what is the purpose of working towards a sustainable future if that world doesn’t include all of us? If we aren’t addressing the intersectionality of environmental education and environmental justice, of climate change and racial justice – in both our personal lives and professional work, we’re not doing it right, we’re not moving towards progress as a nation and a society the way we should be, the way we need to for all of our young people. So today, as you celebrate the beauty that is our planet, I hope you’ll join me in continuing to ask yourself this question: What are you doing in your life to work towards a more just and equitable world?

    In community,

    Estrella, AEOE Executive Director

  • March 24, 2021 4:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Environmental and Outdoor Education Community,

    The increased violence and racism directed at Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is heartbreaking and infuriating. These acts are compounding the trauma and fear of the past year. To our community members who identify as AAPI, we offer support, love, and solidarity.

    With care,

    Your friends at AEOE

    To learn about and explore the history and context of anti-Asian sentiments, self-care resources, and initiatives to become involved in, we offer a few resources below:

    Asian Americans K-12 Education Curriculum

    Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit

    Anti-Asian Violence Resources

    Mental Health Resources for Asian Americans Amid Rise in Violence, Atlanta Mass Shooting

    Say Something Because Hatred is Killing Us: Dismantling The AAPI Invisibility Problem in the Outdoors

    Self-Care Tips For Asian Americans Dealing With Racism Amid Coronavirus

    Highlighted resource: Bystander Intervention To Stop Anti-Asian/American Harassment and Xenophobia Workshop – Offered by Hollaback! in collaboration with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. Lots of workshop times are offered over the next two weeks. Learn more and register here.

  • January 06, 2021 4:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Environmental and Outdoor Education Community,

    I had intended to send you a happy new year message, sharing my hopes that this year will bring a return to in-person programming, more young people with access to learning outdoors, and an ability for us to high five in person once again, among many other desired and necessary benchmarks in what we hope will be a containment of the virus. And now I can't stop watching the news. I am horrified and saddened by what is happening in our nation's capital. This is what white privilege looks like. This what an unwillingness to confront and dismantle the systems that uphold white supremacy looks like. It's disgusting and it's scary. And it's a stark reminder that our work has never been more important. Critical thinking, empathy, scientific understanding, respect, communication, and reasoning – these are some of the principles that unite us as environmental and outdoor educators. These are the qualities that we need in our leaders now more than ever.

    At AEOE, we begin this new year recommitting to our mission to advance the impact of environmental and outdoor education in California, which must include a commitment to anti-racism if we are to ensure that all young people have access to meaningful learning experiences outdoors. I am proud that our board has committed to "Develop and implement practices and policies in support of our commitment to equity and inclusion in AEOE's programs, outreach efforts, leadership, and organizational culture" as a part of our strategic plan. We have important work to do. Personally, I am working through the guided journal that accompanies the powerful book me and white supremacy, by Layla F. Saad. I am lucky to have a group that I meet with weekly to discuss our learning and our struggles. I hope that you also have trusted colleagues and friends that you can lean on in your ongoing learning (and unlearning). We hope that AEOE will continue to be a place that you turn to for support and inspiration. One thing is certain: we will need each other in the coming months and years as we rebuild our field and work towards a more just and sustainable future.

    In community,

    Estrella Risinger, AEOE Executive Director

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