Pre-Conference Workshop Descriptions 2023


2023 Affiliate Assembly

Presenters: Affiliate Network Members
Join leaders from across the NAAEE Affiliate Network as we celebrate the great work of the Network and spend time learning from each other's challenges and successes.

Connecting Students to Climate Change Through the Power of Storytelling

Presenters: Cassandra Ceballos, Climate Generation and Seth Spencer, Climate Generation
What are climate stories? How can they be useful tools for teaching about climate change? This interactive workshop explores these questions and more. Share your own experiences talking about climate change, generate ideas together, and leave with practical resources and next steps for bringing climate storytelling to their students.

Human-caused climate change will impact the lives of every student that we as educators work with during their lives. Currently, 77% of adults believe that schools should teach about climate change (Yale Program on Climate Change Communication). At the same time, only 57% of people in the U.S. believe that our current climate change is being caused by human activities. Where does this disconnect come from, and how do we help our students understand this connection around a subject that has become politically divisive?

Educators are seen as trusted messengers in their communities. During this workshop, we will focus on the power of storytelling and personal connection in creating an open and trusted learning space. We will dive into specific education strategies that educators can use to actively engage students in understanding the impacts of climate change, and potential solutions and adaptations within their communities.

Educators will participate in a welcoming and inclusive opening activity, where the presenters share their "climate stories" and why they are invested in this work. Participants will move to breakout sessions as they engage in conversations about what inspires them to learn and take action around climate change personally, and with the students they work with. We will then move to a group discussion on how to effectively run a similar activity with students. Participants will then engage in a large group discussion on how to incorporate climate storytelling into their current lessons/curriculum. There will be another breakout room session where educators will have a chance to hear from each other about possible strategies around climate storytelling in their classrooms/programs. The session will wrap up with a debrief on the successes and challenges of using climate storytelling.

This workshop will allow participants time to reflect on their own experiences around climate change, as well as share with their fellow educators the successes and challenges of connecting their students with climate change.

Environmental Action Civics: A Roadmap for Success

Presenters: Alyssa McConkey and Taylor Ruffin, Earth Force
Environmental Action Civics: A Roadmap for Success will provide formal and informal educators with the tools to incorporate experiential civics into conservation education. Participants will learn to employ tools like youth–adult partnerships, youth voice, and root cause analysis to engage diverse groups of young people in systemic change efforts.

The best hope we have to solve the environmental problems 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. Environmental Action Civics: A Roadmap for Success will help you adapt your program to foster such knowledge, skills, and dispositions that young people need to respond to the growing environmental problems we face.

Join Earth Force staff for a timely discussion about how civic learning opportunities can be incorporated into environmental and conservation education. We will practice the use of action civics tools and take part in activities to get you thinking about how your program can help support young people as they practice the skills they need to be effective, engaged citizens.

In addition to helping you foster engaged citizens, this workshop will explore the use of youth voice and provide tools to incorporate diverse voices into environmental decision-making. The workshop will provide the tools for participants to explore the role youth voice plays in acknowledging that environmental challenges affect communities differently and sets the stage for decision-making that reflects the values of local communities. Through discussions and activities, the workshop will demonstrate how practitioners can encourage the inclusion of diverse perspectives and voices in order to foster a more equitable and inclusive approach to environmental action.

This workshop is perfect for formal and nonformal 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 in their world.

Leading for Change: NAAEE Community Engagement Guidelines

Presenters: Presenters Jean Chimbirima Kayira, Antioch University New England; Susana C Mateos, Antioch University New England/North Carolina State University; Elizabeth (Libby) McCann, Antioch University New England; Luciana Ranelli, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve; Anne Umali, NAAEE; Bora Simmons, National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education
This interactive session introduces NAAEE’s Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence and offers facilitation ideas and guidance to design learning opportunities in your community. Join us if you actively elevate Justice40 in your community and/or if your lived experiences reflect the U.S. environmental movement’s historical marginalization of varied identities, cultures, and communities.

Come join this supportive, engaged network of workshop leaders! Participants in this workshop are (1) introduced to NAAEE’s Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence and the Equity & Inclusion expansion of those guidelines, (2) offered relevant facilitation and programming ideas, and (3) provided guidance for how to design relevant support in their respective community contexts. The Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence identify collaboration and inclusion as key characteristics of authentic community engagement. As a participant, you will be expected to facilitate some sort of educational session in the next year related to the CEGs and/or the Equity & Inclusion Module. We provide relevant resources, ongoing support, and professional development opportunities as needed. Participants must already have a foundational understanding of equity and inclusion.

This workshop occurs virtually in two parts, and attendees must commit to both. The first gathering is this 3½-hour virtual session that is part of the NAAEE Conference. For the second gathering, participants can choose between November 6 or November 13, 2023 from 1:00-4:30 PM EST.

Consider joining us if you actively elevate Justice40 in your community and/or if your lived experiences reflect the U.S. environmental movement’s historical marginalization of varied identities, cultures, and communities.

Note: This workshop is sponsored by ee360+. Participation is by invitation only based on the completion of a brief inquiry form before September 1. Inquiries will be reviewed, and participants will be selected on a rolling basis until the limit is reached. Upon invitation, participants will receive an access code that will allow registration and waive registration fees. Inquire here >

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13: 12:00–3:30 PM EDT

Crash Course for Climate Change Educators

Presenter: Karan Wood, Environmental Education Alliance
Teaching climate change can be complicated! Join us for a "crash course" that includes brushing up on background knowledge in climate science, exploring a curated collection of educational resources, trying out instructional strategies that center justice and inclusion, and facilitating student-directed projects. Participants will become more confident in their ability to engage students in climate education.

The intent of this workshop is to increase educators' foundational knowledge about climate science; provide access to free, vetted teaching resources; explore instructional strategies that center equity and inclusion; and model how educators can engage students in effective problem-solving projects.

Throughout the workshop, there will be a focus on how the choice of lesson materials, featured scientists, and key instructional methods and models can make learning about climate change more equitable, inclusive, and relevant.

Exploring climate justice case studies and the framework for student-directed projects will help educators prepare students for solving problems and carrying out civic actions that reduce climate change impacts or improve their community's climate resilience.

The workshop will bolster educators' confidence in their ability to teach climate change in ways that allow students to develop their own lines of evidence and contribute to the solution of bite-sized, local, climate-related problems.

The Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia's experience in this area includes developing and conducting a successful climate education summit for educators; providing professional development for a district-wide climate justice initiative for grades 5–12; curating a collection of climate change lessons and community science projects; identifying local climate phenomena to anchor student learning; constructing a crosswalk between state standards and climate justice connections; and creating a framework for student-directed problem-solving and climate projects.

Learning Locally, Transforming Globally: The UN SDGs in My Community

Presenter: Jennifer Cirillo, Shelburne Farms
The United Nations SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) provide a framework to build on youth-adult and community partnerships, civic action, and engagement in multiple perspectives on our places. Through engagement in a youth participatory action research model, educators will gain tools for their practice and activities ready to implement in their classrooms and communities.

Participants will begin this interactive session with an activity focused on quality of life in communities. We’ll then explore and connect the UN SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) to understand how our local wants and needs are connected to global issues. The second part of the session will help educators consider place as the context for building relationships, understanding the interconnectedness of places and issues, and how they can support building youths’ sense of agency. We’ll wrap up with examples from the field illustrating how youth and adults are transforming their local communities with the UN SDGs in mind.

Educators attending this workshop will:

  • Examine the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a tool for visioning, planning, & action
  • Deepen their sense of place as they use the local context to understand issues of sustainability and justice to frame learning
  • Hear about practical examples from other projects

Educators will experience:

  • Activities that engage students to define quality of life in a community, support the exploration and use of the UN SDGs for community asset mapping, and build relationships to place
  • Strategies to elevate youth and community voices through a civic engagement and action process

In this session, participants will connect their values and vision related to sustainability to action in their local community. They will make connections to their communities through the SDGs. They will learn about interdisciplinary academic connections as we dig into the six phases of Learning Locally, Transforming Globally. We will practice activities that help to elevate youth voice in place-making and civic action and create opportunities for youth to share their learning beyond school walls

Regenerative Oceans: Exploring New Pathways for the Future of Ocean Resilience

Presenters: Deepika Joon, Leuphana University, Senan Gardiner, Leuphana University
The Council of All Beings, inspired by Joanna Macy, will be held to understand the ocean's complexities to create hope and inspire collaborative action on ocean conservation. Participants will explore the concept of ocean regeneration in the light of sustainability learning.

United Nations has declared a Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development from 2021 to 2030. With the impact of multiple stressors on the ocean projected to increase, we invite conference participants to explore our shared future with the oceans. Participants will first explore the concept of regenerative ocean futures with input from a guest speaker from the field of marine science.

After this, a "Council of All Beings" will be held in the underwater or sunken fictional city of Atlantis, where participants will represent different parts of ocean ecosystems. Participants will prepare a sustainable costume based on their animals or plants for the session, which will be visible in the virtual space. Are they kelp forests, coral reefs, whales, or giant squid? These and many more marine species will be present at the Council. After the experimental democracy in the Council, the participants will delve into the UNESCO Decade on Oceans Sciences and learn about the conservation action needed to protect the oceans. The learning exercise will end with a reflective journaling exercise where participants reflect on their actions on the oceans. The workshop will introduce the methodology of "The Council of All Beings," focusing on understanding the meaning of regeneration.

We invite participants keen to learn, listen, and improvise as oceanic creatures. Come and explore this real-time fishbowl discussion on ocean futures. Participants in this multi-species workshop will understand the perspectives of other species through embodied learning.

Participants in earlier workshops have found it to be meditative and a space of self-exploration and mutual learning. The Council will seek to focus on solutions that different actors of the community can implement to protect and regenerate oceans.

Teaching the Whole Student with Nature Journaling

Presenter: Tara Laidlaw, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy
Nature journaling is a flexible and engaging practice that helps students develop academic, environmental, and social-emotional competencies. In this workshop, we will cover fundamental nature journaling skills and explore how to incorporate journaling into any teaching context to address NGSS, Common Core, and other classroom goals while centering students’ agency and lived experience.

In this workshop, participants will first learn the basics of nature journaling as laid out by John Muir Laws and Emilie Lygren in their book “How to Teach Nature Journaling” (which is available for free online): using words, pictures, and numbers to describe what you notice, wonder, and are reminded of. This approach engages multiple learning modalities, encourages student agency, honors students’ lived experience, and, when facilitated well, directly supports NGSS and Common Core expectations.

After doing some journaling—and practicing giving productive feedback on each other’s journals—participants will consider their own teaching context and brainstorm opportunities for using nature journaling as part of their programming or curriculum. This will include an examination of barriers to participation, assessment of available resources, and discussion about adapting to the needs of diverse individuals, classes, program or curricular goals, and locations.

The workshop will start with an introduction to the basics: fundamentals of nature journaling; the power of metadata; using words, pictures, and numbers; "I notice, I wonder, it reminds me of;" and journaling your own hand.

This introduction will be followed by structured activities that include pattern boxes (an accessible introduction to using art on the page), sound maps (using a mix of words, pictures, and numbers, and letting the page get messy), and leaf comparisons (practicing clear communication about a complex subject).

We'll also work on giving productive feedback, with tools for talking about students' work and practicing on each other's pages. 

Finally, we'll work together to explore ways to bring journaling to your own teaching setting:  ensuring student safety outdoors; minimizing or eliminating barriers to participation at the individual or organizational level; and strategies for adapting activities based on student skills and interests, location, weather, available time, and other variables. 

We'll end the workshop with reflections, additional resources, and final questions.

Tara Laidlaw has developed and facilitated many professional development workshops for teachers, both virtual and in-person, focused on nature journaling as a teaching tool. She is also slated to be a presenter and an invited panel speaker at the Wild Wonder 2023 Nature Journal Educators Workshop, which is spearheaded by John Muir Laws.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 16: 12:00–3:30 PM EDT

Creating a More Sustainable World Through Systems Thinking Education

Presenters: Gitanjali Paul, Compass Education
This interactive workshop will share a systems thinking tool called the Sustainability Compass that turns sustainability education, including environmental education, from something perceived as "extra" in schools into an extraordinary opportunity for teaching and learning. Join us for dialogue, activities, and reflection about creating a more sustainable world through education

As a former high school social studies teacher and someone who works with schools worldwide, I have heard many teachers, administrators, and students say that sustainability feels like something “extra” on top of the teaching and learning they are already required to do by state standards, external exams, and demands to prepare students for 21st-century jobs.

On top of this, today’s teachers are being asked to prepare their students for complex, multifaceted, and systemic challenges that can feel overwhelming without the tools to do so. Human and natural systems work in tandem or in conflict to uphold systems of oppression, perpetuate unsustainable global trends, and obscure the path toward creating a better world. To help our students find a path to a more sustainable world, we need new perspectives, thinking, and tools that foster hope and imagination, not doom and gloom. We need systems thinking.

This workshop, for educators of all backgrounds and age ranges, will focus on four learning objectives. First, the workshop will explore the purpose of education and the role of educators in building a more sustainable world, including exploring how environmental education in North America fits into the global movement for Education for Sustainable Development through the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal framework. Second, it will explore the nature of systems thinking, including a range of ways it can look in preK–12 education. Third, I will teach one versatile system thinking tool, the Sustainability Compass, which can help schools, teachers, and students explore issues systemically and embed sustainability in their worldview. Finally, we will dedicate time to personal action on how to apply systems thinking to participants’ contexts.

I serve as the Education Program Manager for the U.S. nonprofit Compass Education. Compass Education runs professional learning for educators on systems thinking tools to help educate and act for a more sustainable world. You can learn more about the organization at

Engaging in Storytelling, Sensemaking, and Data Visualization with FieldScope

Presenters: Jessica Bean, University of California, Berkeley/FieldScope, Megan Isadore, River Otter Ecology Project, Sarah Milbourne, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Rebekah Taylor, Frostburg State University
FieldScope partners with community and citizen science projects providing place-based programs that engage participants in sensemaking and storytelling with data. In this interactive workshop, you will explore and discuss datasets with project leaders and learn to design storytelling-with-data activities for your community with FieldScope.

Community and citizen science programs offer important entry points for connecting and engaging with critical environmental issues, but do not always engage participants in sensemaking about the meaning, purpose, and impact of the data. FieldScope provides a common portal for the collection, sharing, and analysis of various forms of data and is working with projects that invite learners of all ages to use data to tell place-based stories. In this workshop, you will engage with the FieldScope tools and selected partnering projects to think about how storytelling using project data could be integrated into community programs. Attendees will leave the session with next steps for planning data explorations in their existing or future projects. Many of the stories from featured projects include intergenerational relationships, partnerships with schools or local parks, and addressing public health issues.

Positionality, Privilege, and Power in Environmental Education

NOTE TIME: 12:00—3:00 PM EDT
Patricia Morgan, The Executive Learning Lab
During this workshop, we will explore Positionality, Privilege, and Power in Environmental Education by unpacking our cultural identity and power. We will also explore how our privileges impact our position and power. Lastly, we will explore culturally responsive strategies to advance our Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JDEI) efforts.

During this workshop, we will have an engaging and thought-provoking session that delves into the basis of Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (JDEI) by exploring positionality, privilege, and power in environmental education. Specifically, we will focus on unpacking our cultural identity (ethnicity, racial identity, gender identity, socioeconomic level, etc.). In today's world, where environmental issues are of paramount importance, understanding the dynamics of privilege and power becomes essential for fostering inclusive and effective environmental education practices.

This workshop will create a safe and open space for participants to reflect on their own positions within the social and environmental landscapes. Through a combination of interactive discussions, activities, and case studies, we will explore how our identities, backgrounds, and lived experiences shape our perspectives and, ultimately, our approach to environmental education.


  • Explore how positionality, privilege, and power influence environmental education.
  • Reflect on our perspectives, recognize privilege, and examine power dynamics.
  • Discover strategies for cultivating inclusivity in educational practices.


  • Formal and nonformal educators, professionals, and leaders committed to equitable environmental education.

Dr. Patricia Morgan (she/her) has dedicated her life and career to creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces, schools, and communities. She is an innovative and passionate leader with a heart for access and inclusion. With her deep understanding of belonging, she brings a unique perspective to her work, helping organizations address systemic barriers and creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for all. Her work includes conducting organizational assessments and roadmaps, designing and delivering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) & Leadership Development training programs, and providing ongoing coaching and support to leadership teams. She’s written several publications and has conducted numerous studies and presentations on DEI, Culturally Responsive Organizations, and Organizational Development at local, national, and international conferences and speaking engagements. In her spare time, Dr. Morgan serves as a board member for several educational organizations, binge-watches comedies, and is an avid traveler and foodie.

The Road to NAAEE Higher Education Accreditation: A Map for Success

Presenters: Rebecca L. Franzen, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education; Billy Bennett, Kentucky Environmental Education Council; Patty Born, Hamline University School of Education; Howard Drossman, Catamount Center/TREE Semester; Lucy R. McClain, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University; Bora Simmons, National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education
Maybe you've been debating about accrediting your college or university EE program. Here's a great opportunity to make some headway! We'll provide critical information, including an in-depth review of standards, strategies for incorporating them into curriculum, sample assessments, and models from faculty members who are accredited.

There will be some work time for you to put what you learn into action and for you to ask one-on-one questions of presenters. Presenters have been through the accreditation process, and some have reviewed accreditation materials from other institutions. Whether you're curious about accreditation or are almost ready to submit your materials, take advantage of this time to move forward in your accreditation efforts!