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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.

Summer Transitions

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!


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