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.
Estrella Risinger, AEOE Executive Director