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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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Want to be informed about upcoming professional development, ways to advocate for access to outdoor learning, and opportunities to connect with other educators across the state? The best way to join our network of dedicated individuals and organizations in California that are committed to using environmental and outdoor education as a tool to create lasting environmental change is to become a member. If you're not quite ready to make that commitment, you can still be informed about opportunities across the state by subscribing to our e-newsletter on our homepage!

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  • 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

  • August 27, 2020 4:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear environmental and outdoor education community,

    We hope you and your families are safe. With more than 550 fires burning throughout the state of California, and air quality forcing us inside when we wish to seek solace in the natural world, the challenges can feel overwhelming. Our hearts are heavy as we see images of treasured forests burning, learn about lives and homes lost, and hear about historic parks and landmarks being destroyed by the blazes. We know that many of your program sites are near or in direct danger and we are watching closely and hoping for your safety. 

    Climate change has been named publicly in most leading news sources as a primary cause in the current devastation. We are reminded that our work as environmental and outdoor educators is vital. And our community is more important than ever. 

    We are grateful for you, our network of dedicated educators and program providers across the state. While many of us will not be returning to programming as usual this fall, we know you are still working to help young people connect to the natural world in whatever you can, whether that be through delivering virtual programs, offering small family programs, or as classroom teachers doing your best to support your students through a screen. Know that we continue to advocate for outdoor learning as part of the plan to reopen schools, and are here for you to provide support. Please reach out if there are ways we can help you or your organizations. 

    Take care,

    Your friends at AEOE

  • July 16, 2020 7:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear environmental and outdoor education community,

    We hope you are taking good care. It has been a challenging time for many of us. At AEOE, we've been working to connect with our partners and friends, working to support environmental and outdoor education providers across the state. Please read on for updates and opportunities to advance the field together.

    Be well, everyone.

    Your friends at AEOE

    Environmental Educator Certification Program: Apply Today!

    We are thrilled to announce that AEOE’s Environmental Educator Certification Program (EECP) is launching this fall! This year-long program (September - June) will be conducted primarily online and consist of work done both independently and collaboratively. The program is designed for educators who have some teaching experience and are ready to take their career to the next level. Through participating in the certification program, you will increase your knowledge and skills, expand your professional network, enhance your resume, and make important connections across the state. We aim to have a cohort of candidates that will reflect the diversity of California's students. To that end, we strongly encourage people who identify as BIPOC and/or from other communities that have historically been marginalized within the field of EE to apply. We hope you will consider applying to be a part of our pilot cohort.

    Promoting EE and Outdoor Learning in Plans to Reopen Schools

    AEOE has been working hard to promote environmental education and outdoor learning as integral to reopening schools in California. The newly launched eeGuidance for Reopening Schools was developed by state EE organizations and the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). The guidelines provide practical strategies for schools to use outdoor learning and environmental education as a tool to safely reopen schools this fall. The eeGuidelines for California can be accessed here

    Feel free to share with your networks and promote the eeGuidelines with your local school personnel. We imagine this could be a good starting point or messaging that could strengthen your attempts to partner with local schools to provide virtual programming or in-person learning in counties where it is safe to do so. For our formal education community, this might help you to work with you administration to commit to engaging your nonformal education partners in supporting your students.

    Resources & Engagement Opportunities

    Our friends at BEETLES and BaySci are hosting a virtual open space conference:

    Informal/Formal Partnerships to Survive the Impacts of COVID-19, Promote Equity, and Keep Science & Environmental Literacy Alive

    July 28th-29th, 2020 10:00am-1:00pm PST

    More details at:

    This conference is free to attend.

    Note: in the spirit of open space, the content of the conference is determined by attendees. All attendees are invited to hold discussions on the topics of their choosing.

    Youth Outdoor Equity Leadership funding opportunity from Children & Nature Network

    Mini-grants of $500 will be awarded to young leaders ages 18 to 30. Examples of projects could include: online outdoor education sessions; creating gardens that employ young people and provide fresh food; providing outdoor gear to remove barriers to outdoor recreation; legislative action training to advance policies that increase equitable access to nature. All young leaders are encouraged to apply. The deadline is July 31st. Priority consideration will be given to those who have participated in C&NN’s Legacy Camps and Fresh Tracks trainings, and young leaders from Black, Indigenous, Latinx, other People of Color, those who identify as LGBTQ, and those with disabilities. APPLY HERE TODAY

    Practitioner Guide to Assessing Connection to Nature Now Available!

    Are you interested in measuring and understanding a population’s connection to nature? Do you want to know if your program has influenced your participants’ connection to nature? The Practitioner Guide to Assessing Connection to Nature is a 63-page guide, including 11 tools and approaches that you can use to assess connection to nature, and it includes copies of those tools for easy access. The guide is also designed to help you choose the right tool for your needs, whether you work with young children, teenagers, or adults. Download or purchase a copy of the guide here.

  • June 30, 2020 4:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear environmental and outdoor educators,

    On Friday, I felt immense gratitude for being able to come together as a community during our first ever virtual statewide conference. The day of learning and connection was AWESOME, and filled my cup in so many ways. Yet it was also shadowed by grief and anger and frustration. Our world is on fire. In addition to the hardships presented through COVID-19, the headlines are once again filled with violence and brutality towards brown and black people. In many cases, folks who are trying to enjoy the outdoors, be active and healthy.

    As outdoor and environmental educators, we lead with our hearts. Compassion is our strength. Caring is our calling. And if one falls, we all fall.

    At AEOE, our vision is for every young person to live in a healthy community with access to meaningful learning experiences outdoors. We work to create the future that we want to see in the world. If we are working to make our field more inclusive, we can't ignore systemic and institutional racism. And if there was ever a time to speak out and to speak up against racism and white supremacy, this is it.

    Personally, my family is committing to directly supporting these organizations:

    And there are many others who are doing important work that could also use your support. Follow them. Amplify them. Fund them if you are able. 

    I am a white woman. My children are white. I grapple with this privilege every day. Sometimes I feel proud of my ability to stand tall. Truthfully, sometimes I step in it. But it is my job to keep trying, to keep striving for the world I want to see. Committing to anti-racism is a lifelong process. I don’t always get it right. But I am committed to showing up, for using my privilege to work to dismantle systems of injustice. For my friends. For yours. For my children, and for yours. For our future together on this beautiful planet we call home. 

    I will stand with you. I hope you will stand with me. 

    With love,

    Estrella Risinger, AEOE Executive Director

  • May 04, 2020 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear environmental and outdoor education community,

    In this time of uncertainty, there's a fundamental truth that gives us hope – that together we can do extraordinary things. Over the past few weeks and months, the entire world has been coming together to stand up, help out, give back, and heal. Whether that's through donations to community organizations, celebrating doctors and nurses at shift changes, recognizing the extraordinary efforts of educators to bring learning to children at home, or reaching out to a neighbor, generosity has been helping the entire world get through this global pandemic. Together. 

    One of the fundamental truths that has long been held within the field of environmental and outdoor education is that we are all connected. We know that John Muir is a complicated icon, but these words feel particularly pertinent right now: "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." Never has this lesson been more evident than in these past weeks. We are glad to be connected to all of you. 

    We hope you are healthy and safe, 

    Your friends at AEOE

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