Connection, Collaboration and Deep Caring
The past few days at the E3 WA 2021 Conference have highlighted the power we have in using our stories to continue to build the field of Environmental Education. Below are some highlights from the presenters.
ESD 113 - Environmental Education for adjudicated youth
Rachel Stendahl shared her project focused on bringing outdoor experiences to youth who often spend the majority of their time in a small windowless cell in solitary confinement. Knowing how important it is for youth to connect with the natural world, Rachel is focusing on bringing outdoor experiences to youth who need it most. Read more about this program on the ClimeTime website.
Youth Panel - Puget Sound xCHANGE and Sustainability Ambassadors
This insightful panel gave participants a look into what youth think are the most important things to learn and how they want to engage with environmental and sustainability education. The most prominent piece of advice from the youth panel was for teachers to engage their classes through project based learning on real world, local problems that students can connect to. Give them the agency to choose the topic of focus and the opportunity to have a real impact towards real solutions. Lastly, allow students the opportunity to connect learning across subjects. The more they understand the connection, the more meaning and engagement youth will have in projects through their unique, creative lens.
Promoting Inclusive Practices for Students Through Equitable and Restorative Communities
Ford Middle School in the Franklin-Pierce School District has committed themselves to developing inclusionary and restorative practices for their students, staff, and community. Collaborative Learning Solutions provided the consultation to administration and staff on how to successfully develop restorative practices, communities of equitable and inclusive practices, restorative justice centers, and responsive discipline guidelines. They stress the importance of including youth in the process along with family and community members that accurately represent the diverse identities of the students being served by the school district.
Committing to Community
NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education
Environmental education that successfully engages communities have five characteristics in common:
Based on sound environmental education principles
Collaborative and inclusive
Oriented toward capacity building and civic action
Long-term investment in change
When beginning the process of engaging with your community, the questions to ask are:
What do you already know about your communities?
What assets do the communities have?
What do you need to know about your communities that you don't know already?
Mentoring: A Tool for Inclusion and Support
The continuum of development in the field of environmental and sustainability education relies on diversifying our workforce to accurately represent the range of people we serve or can serve. Mentorship is a great way to support and encourage people into this profession. The white allies who are currently holding the power have opportunity to affect change by supporting underrepresented staff through considerate and appropriate mentorship.