The 2021 annual conference will feature session strands and tracks to encourage a more broad and inclusive representation of environmental education innovation, research, approaches and resources. Session presentation formats included traditional presentations, hands-on, workshops, roundtable discussions, panels, and lightning presentations that were intended for different knowledge and experience levels (click here for more information on session formats).
Session Strands and Example Topics:
Conservation - Focus on increasing environmental knowledge, improving environmental awareness and attitudes and inspiring positive actions to lead to improvements in environmental issues including water, fire, flooding, climate change, energy, pollution, overpopulation, etc.
Connecting People to Nature/Health and Wellness - Focus on increasing people’s connection to the outdoors to ensure physical, mental, emotional and social health. Topics could include health and wellness connected to outdoor experiences, understanding of personal and environmental health, hands-on learning, place based education, food/agriculture, behavior change, lifelong learning, urban/rural community approaches, etc.)
Pre-K-12 Education - Focus on improving academic performance, including greater STEM literacy, increased school engagement for students; programs that support teacher professional development and direct improvement of school grounds and other learning spaces. Topics could include academic standards, curriculum, student achievement, interdisciplinary approaches, projects, extracurricular activities, school grounds, buildings, healthy environments, STEM, homeschooling, and collaborations among schools/universities, EE providers, families, communities, etc.)
Youth Development - Focus on guiding young people as they grow into responsible, engaged citizens that care for the environment and their communities. Topics may include professional, leadership, or character development through outdoor experiences or community service, youth engagement, moving forward EE career paths, etc.)
Social Justice - Focus on providing access and opportunity for underserved communities and underrepresented populations including increased access to outdoor experiences, improved urban green space, and the development and support of environmental educators and leaders from traditionally underrepresented groups. Topics could include environmental justice, cultural competency, inclusivity/equity practices, engaging diverse audiences/communities (i.e. ethnicity, language, age, gender, ability level, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, etc.)
Skills and Professional Learning - Focus on building skills and capacity of professionals within the EE community. Topics may include organizational infrastructure, management, fundraising, evaluation, advocacy, messaging/marketing, volunteers, community outreach, developing and expanding alliances, collaborations, networks, etc.
Hope and EE - A Vision for Our New World -- Deb Matlock
Environmental education has never been more important than it is now and, "now" is also one of the most challenging times to be an environmental educator! Let's join in community, spend time on the land, and delve deeply into our connection with ourselves, the earth, and the other animals. Together, we will recall our deeper purpose, renew our personal inspiration, and find a sense of collective hope to carry the vision of EE forward in this post-pandemic world.
This outdoor hike and workshop will be led by Deb Matlock of Wild Rhythms and will provide personal rejuvenation and inspiration as well as offer participants many ideas to explore on their own. We will plan to be outdoors, hiking, and sitting on the earth.
Environmental Action Civics: Creating the civic experiences students need to become effective environmental citizens -- Alyssa McConkey
The best hope we have to solve the environmental problems facing our communities is to have a population that has the knowledge to understand complex environmental issues, the civic skills to be successful advocates for their own needs, and the motivation to act on their own behalf. An environmental education system that fosters such knowledge, skills, and dispositions offers the best opportunity to ensure that we are able to adequately respond to the growing environmental problems we face. Join Earth Force for a timely discussion on incorporating civic learning opportunities in environmental education. We will look at valuable action civics tools and take part in activities to get you thinking about how your program can help support young people practice the skills they need to be effective, engaged environmental citizens. This workshop is perfect for formal and informal educators working with youth in grades 5 - 10 who seek to instill in young people a deep love of nature, and to prepare them to be the change they wish to see their world.
The Shape of Learning in a World on Fire: Self-Direction, Tik Tok and the Future of Environmental Education -- Maria Talero & Drew Hornbein
How well are we understanding the experiences of young learners as they try to come to terms with the collapse of systems all around them? In this session, we look at how to instigate self-directed environmental experiences that are congruent with the communication environment of today’s young, post-trust, collapse-savvy Tik Tok learners. Our central question: Can we deliberately design environmental learning to be congruent with a world in which systems are collapsing, and in doing so, unlock a deeper bond with the more-than-human world for these learners? This session will be hands-on, experiential and interactive.
The Path of Most Resistance: Exploring social justice through the lens of history and everyday heroism -- Kriste Peoples
"If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the policemen, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected—those, precisely, who need the law's protection most — and listens to their testimony." Inspired by this timeless truth offered nearly fifty years ago by James Baldwin, this presentation explores how our American past has informed much of the inequity we experience today — in our natural spaces and beyond. We'll examine legacies of oppression, the fight for human rights, and the response of unlikely heroes at the forefront of change. It's only by learning what gave rise to the challenges we face that we can rise with courage to meet them.
Every Kid, Every Day: Making EE a Part of Prek-12 Education -- CAEE
How do we build a system where every PreK-12 student in Colorado has meaningful opportunities to engage in outdoor and environmental learning? What would opportunities to advance your programming with PreK-12 schools? Join us in this interactive session to explore the newly revised Colorado Environmental Education Plan and the national recommendations for Outdoor and Environmental Learning. Help guide the direction and strategy for the next five years in Colorado.
Tell a More Effective Story about Environmental Education -- CAEE
How do you build support for your programs with funders, school district partners, and other key stakeholders? The positive impacts of environmental education support public health, conservation, K-12 Education, child development, and social justice. However, the connection between environmental education and these social issue areas is poorly understood. By adopting a shared and empirically proven framing strategy, we can tell a more effective story about environmental education: what it entails, how it works, and why it’s essential. Join us to explore storytelling tools, discuss strategies and practice creating messaging with your peers that will help create a new normal where EE is essential.