Conference Workshop Descriptions

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Building Action for Climate Empowerment in the United States

Wednesday, October 6, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenters: Frank Niepold III, NOAA Climate Program Office (Moderator); Bart Merrick, NOAA; Jen Kretser, The Wild Center
Price: $25

Participants will:

  • Develop an understanding of why the United States is creating an Action for Climate Empowerment National Strategy
  • Participate in the development of the Action for Climate Empowerment Strategy for the United States
  • Learn how Action for Climate Empowerment unlocks the opportunity to create new, good-paying jobs through informed public engagement and education in an effective, just, and equitable transition to a resilient, low-carbon future
  • Be part of a community utilizing best practices in climate empowerment

An informed and engaged public is one of the most effective and equitable ways to accelerate a just transition to a resilient, low-carbon future. The U.S. can demonstrate bold leadership by fully embracing Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), by marshaling creativity, initiative, and collaboration among communities, organizations, and individuals as the best way to accelerate a just transition to a low-carbon and resilient world.

The workshop will allow for an interactive panel-based format and allow time for facilitated small group discussions and collaboration. We envision that these facilitated small group conversations will utilize digital breakout/meeting spaces and collaborative tools such as Jamboard and Padlet. In these listening sessions, the education community will have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the components and provide input and suggestions on elements of the strategies that will contribute to a robust and inclusive ACE National Strategy.

This session supports the Advancing Civic Engagement and Sustainable Communities. Education and civic engagement are core to the success of an ACE National Strategy. This session will highlight the components of ACE that support both the development and implementation of the education and engagement strategies needed to accelerate the just transition to a low-carbon and resilient future. Additionally, the ACE National Strategy development process will draw from this and other communities' experience in incorporating culturally rooted practices and understanding of how people from different backgrounds relate to, engage with and care for the environment across landscapes. Finally, given that ACE is a component of the UNFCCC, UN Sustainable Development Goals are integral.

Maximum (for registration): 60


Local Action, Global Impact: Sustainable Development Goals in My Neighborhood

Wednesday, October 6, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenters: Jennifer Cirillo, Shelburne Farms; Emily Hoyler, UVM Tarrant Institute for Innovation Education; Tina Wong, greenprint ethos
Price: $25

We believe our students have the potential to be change agents in our communities. What is our role as educators to help them realize this potential? How can we partner with our students and community to build a more sustainable world?

Join us as we dive into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and explore how to use them as a framework for learning and action in local, regional, and global contexts. The 17 SDGs, which are a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all,” were set forth by the UN in 2015 with a goal of collective action to reach the goals by 2030. These Global Goals offer a powerful frame for educators to engage students in community-based learning and action-oriented projects.

We’ll take a close look at these goals through a collaborative process that can be replicated with youth. This process guides learners to design and carry out a community-based project that generates local action for global solutions. Together we’ll generate ideas for building community-based projects. First, we’ll share activities that build awareness of the SDGs and quality of life issues, and then move into practices and ideas to help students develop a deeper understanding of their place. Next, we learn how to create indicators and an inquiry process that will allow learners to explore and determine if our places are healthy. Once we have multiple perspectives on our place, we forge partnerships and make a plan for action to enhance or change certain aspects. The learning cycle ends with celebration and reflection, and the process begins again!

Participants will engage in a shared awareness practice and grounding activity. Then we will learn together through whole- and small-group discussions and inquiry as we unpack this learning cycle and the scaffolds and supports available to engage students in taking local action for global impact.

Maximum (for registration): 50


Teaching Environmental Justice for K-12 Educators

Wednesday, October 6, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenters: Abby Randall, EcoRise; Zakhia Grant, EcoRise; Kizzy Hannibal Xolani, EcoRise
Price: $25

Join EcoRise staff for a deep dive into our Introduction to Environmental Justice (EJ) middle and high school curriculum. Using a social-emotional learning lens, this workshop and the supporting curriculum will create a foundation for students’ understanding of EJ history and concepts and explore how empathy, leadership, community action, and policy change can bring long-overdue justice. Gain the skills and knowledge you need to help your students explore how kindness, compassion, and empathy can contribute to repairing the damage caused by racist behaviors, policies, and systems, creating a better world for all.

This two-part workshop will focus on:

  1. The tools and skills necessary to cultivate the mindset and posture that is essential to effectively engage students in environmental justice work
  2. Lesson demos, exploration, discussion, and planning, including:
  • Key environmental justice topics at both the local and national level
  • A brief EJ Timeline • EcoRise’s beautiful EJ Hero poster series
  • EJ solutions, through role-playing advocacy strategies, researching EJ policies, and practicing policy writing

Participants will receive free access to EcoRise’s Introduction to Environmental Justice curriculum and will be connected with a virtual community of environmental justice educators.

Maximum (for registration): 60


Exploring Sustainability Through an Indigenous Lens—Getting Started with Your Students

Wednesday, October 6, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenters: Donna Ross; Marie Tremblay, Alberta Council for Environmental Education
Price: $25

Connectedness and relationships with others and with Mother Earth are foundational to most Indigenous cultures and worldviews. According to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, “reconciliation will never occur unless we are also reconciled with the Earth.” These words recognize that our relationship with Mother Earth is broken. But how do we fix it?

This highly interactive workshop will feature a back-and-forth dialogue between an Indigenous (Donna Ross) and non-Indigenous (Dr. Marie Tremblay) presenter as we take a deep dive into the concept of sustainability, the nature of knowledge, and our relationship to the natural world through both western and Indigenous lenses. We’ll demonstrate how teachers and educators don’t need to be experts to start their journey into Indigenous knowledge systems but rather, an open mind and heart—and a willingness to explore new ideas with their students. This journey begins by exploring our own origins and family stories as a way of gaining awareness of our own worldview—and as a prerequisite to being able to understand and appreciate worldviews that are different from our own.

Drawing on authentic Indigenous resources, including videos featuring Elders and knowledge keepers, we’ll also demonstrate the power of storytelling and land- or placed-based education for developing a deep understanding of key sustainability concepts like connectedness, belonging, and reciprocity with Mother Earth as well as the seven sacred teachings. We’ll also share our top ten practical tips to help teachers and educators get started in weaving Indigenous perspectives in their everyday practice in a way that engages the cognitive, physical, emotional, and spiritual self and fosters deep learning around the notion of sustainability and the need to repair our broken relationship with each other and the natural world.

We will use breakout discussions and other online methods to engage participants (e.g., chat, annotation tool in Zoom), interactive Google slide deck) and provide opportunities to reflect upon, discuss, and unpack the material presented and identify ways to apply it to one’s environmental education practice.

Maximum (for registration): 50


Affiliate Assembly

Wednesday, October 6, 4:00-6:00 PM EDT
Affiliate Assembly — TBD
Presenters: TBD
Price: $TBD 

DRAFT: The Affiliate Assembly is designed for staff and board members of NAAEE’s 56 Affiliate Network organizations. Share and learn from other affiliate leaders in this unique professional development and networking opportunity. Let’s build capacity, share successful practices, and learn innovative strategies. Join us after the Assembly for an optional Virtual Happy Hour (4:00 PM–5:00 PM)!


Building and Fostering Resilience into Environmental Education Programming

Monday, October 11, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenter: Kenneth Rainer, University of Florida
Contributor: Martha C. Monroe, University of Florida
Price: $25

In 2009, the NAAEE provided environmental educators with the Nonformal Environmental Education Programs Guidelines for Excellence (2009). These guidelines were incredibly beneficial in helping educators deliver meaningful opportunities for audiences. As environmental-based organizations’ goals have evolved to incorporate the concept of resilience, supporting education programs have needed similar guidance to develop and deliver programs that build and foster resilience.

This virtual workshop will pilot an updated Guidelines for Excellence tool with emphasis on the concept of resilience. These updated guidelines will incorporate recommendations, principles, and frameworks synthesized from multiple disciplines, including engineering, psychology, ecology, and education.

This virtual workshop will explore how practitioners perceive, learn, and react to the proposed tool. Trainers will use an action research process to help create a valid, usable product but, more importantly, answer research questions about how environmental educators view and learn about the concept of resilience and how they extrapolate these ideas into strategies for improving their programs. Before the workshop, trainers will distribute a pre-workshop survey to explore what practitioners believe they currently do and intend to accomplish.

The virtual workshop will take approximately three and a half hours to complete. During the workshop, trainers will provide participants a worksheet to document notes about the guidelines, indicators, and additional relevant information. After the workshop, participants will submit their worksheets and complete an online post-survey. In combination with the pre-survey results, these data will help the research team explore the degree to which the workshop participants perceive resilience, the degree to which their programs currently build and foster resilience, and which characteristics indicate this. This information would help the trainers explore the utility of the guidelines tool and its value as a professional development tool. The process will also enable the team to report on the professional development process and how participants perceived their ideas and changing mental models through addressing resilience.

Maximum (for registration): 35


Confluence of Culture Shift: The Interrelationships Between EE, EJ, and Climate Justice

Monday, October 11, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT)
Presenters: Queta González, Center for Diversity & the Environment; Charissa Virginia Jones, OSU Extension Service—Outdoor School
Price: $25

What mental models do we have about environmental education? Indigenous Science (Traditional Ecological Knowledge)? Environmental justice? Climate justice? How do these mental models impact our ability to increase equity, inclusion, diversity, and justice within EE? This workshop will engage participants in a reflective and experiential equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice workshop designed to build community and deepen analysis and practice. We will explore the culture of environmental education and then build awareness about opportunities and challenges at the intersections of environmental education, Indigenous science, environmental justice, and climate justice. This will be an opportunity to shine a light on our unique lived experiences, our connection to community, and the community’s role in our work. How does our respective work heal us and place?

Maximum (for registration): 50


Connecting Research and Practice: Strategies to Improve Your Environmental Education Programs

Monday, October 11, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenters: Mele Wheaton, Stanford University; Stephanie Rafanelli, Stanford University
Price: $25

Environmental education (EE) research can create a critical foundation for improving programming, and it can support high-quality, theoretically and empirically based evaluation. Connecting with the broader body of relevant literature, deepening grounding in the EE-related research can help with designing, implementing, and evaluating programs. Through these processes, EE practitioners can more effectively understand how people learn about the environment, connect with the natural world, develop environmental identities, build citizen-action skills, and envision their role as part of a social movement.

We have designed this workshop for a range of stakeholders in the EE space: field educators from local, regional, and national organizations; environmental educators who work in a diverse range of settings such as schools, museums, aquaria, zoos, gardens, and parks, among others; funders; and other stakeholders who are interested in infusing their on-the-ground practice with research-informed perspectives. Using strategies from Stanford’s design thinking school, participants will learn by doing through workshop activities that foster innovative approaches to complex challenges. The workshop will offer opportunities for participants to dive into the research that corresponds with the change they want to make in their own EE practice. Participants will leave the session with tools and resources for accessing and applying research; they’ll also gain techniques for guiding others through this process.

Maximum (for registration): 40


Youth Voice Can Make a Real-World Difference: Civic Engagement

Monday, October 11, 12:00-3:30 PM EDT
Presenters: Laura Collard, MAEOE; Laura Downey, Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education; Mary Westlund, MD Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education
Price: $25

Join MAEOE and KACEE for a three-hour workshop that focuses on strategies for integrating Youth Voice into your next PD for teachers. Student voice is a critical component for civic engagement and at the heart of phenomena-based science teaching and learning. Elevating student voice in the classroom provides opportunities for more culturally relevant learning and increased opportunities for students to lead the way for greener and healthier schools and communities. We will share current research and best practices for increasing student voice in the classroom and work with participants to explore strategies for increasing opportunities for youth voice using a nationally recognized curriculum, Project Learning Tree. MAEOE and KACEE will share their experiences with work to strengthen educators’ focus on student voice and engagement and engage participants in dialogue on how to better prepare teachers to do more than a letter-writing campaign and into real-world and substantive change.

Maximum (for registration): 40


Climate Fresk: You’re Holding All the Cards;

Tuesday, October 12, 11:30 AM-3:00 PM EDT
Presenter: Sheila Suarez de Flores, Climate Fresk
Price: $25

Climate Fresk uses concept mapping, collective intelligence, art therapy, and play to empower participants via education and help them see the full causes and effects of climate change, including justice issues. It is powerful because THEY place the cards and build a system view together, testing their opinions, learning from others, sharing their knowledge and unique backgrounds, and growing their voices and viewpoints in a safe space. After the first portion, which is building their collective system view via placing and linking cards representing IPCC report key terms, they pass into synthesis via art and decorating their canvas together to bring themes to the surface. There is also an emotional debrief for those who feel comfortable sharing. The session ends with brainstorming and open dialog on solutions and concrete actions, guided by the IPCC report. Overcoming shame, there is an emphasis on no judgment—what works for one person may not work for another—and the power of community action. No action too small! We highlight that climate change does not affect all parties uniformly, and not all solutions are readily available to everyone.

For all audiences, experts, novices, and kids, Climate Fresk has been used by diverse organizations to boost and unify their actions, bond, and bring up new voices. It has inspired 15+ other “collage” workshops by other NGOs on topics such as oceans, biodiversity, textiles, and sexism.

Created by engineer and teacher Cedric Ringenbach in 2018, this grassroots workshop has grown exponentially, partly due to offering participants who want to go further the opportunity to become facilitators themselves and join our thriving education community. All are welcome, bringing diversity, equity, and energy to the EE community. It does not take much to run a workshop (print cards and a big sheet of paper and pens) and the content is provided free online. Our mission is climate literacy for all. Since COVID, an online version has been created to continue its reach and further enhance connections around the world.

Best understood if seen, here is a two-minute video >

Maximum (for registration): 32


Environmental Action Civics: Connecting the Community to the Classroom

Tuesday, October 12, 11:30 AM-3:00 PM EDT
Presenters: Alexis Thorbecke, Earth Force; Grace Edinger, Earth Force
Contributor: Vince Meldrum, Earth Force
Price: $25

Preserving our natural world requires more than just learning about environmental issues; it requires action. How are environmental policies made? How do we change practices that are damaging the environment? How do we balance the needs of our communities with the needs of the natural environment? In this workshop, learn how to help young people explore these questions and affect positive environmental change. Over the course of the workshop, we will explore the Earth Force Process, a six-step framework that guides young people through finding the environmental issues that are affecting their communities, working together to make decisions about what issue to tackle, contacting stakeholders and community knowledge holders, democratically selecting a solution, and putting that solution into action. Participants in this workshop will also build the skills necessary to support young people in this important work, including project management, youth-adult partnerships, democratic decision-making, and more!

Participants who complete this workshop will also gain access to the Earth Force Educator Support Network, including monthly planning and development sessions throughout the school year, as well as project support from Earth Force staff and expert educators.

Maximum (for registration): 40


Greening Our Future: Green School Initiatives and Green Job Opportunities

Tuesday, October 12, 11:30 AM-3:00 PM EDT
Presenter: Mary Westlund, Maryland Association of Environmental and Outdoor Education
Price: $25

Green jobs are growing fast and changing segments of the global economy. Employers are actively seeking workers who are creative leaders and can communicate and collaborate effectively. Youth are seeking careers that lead to more sustainable lifestyles and green economies. This intersection of needs and wants will be explored through the examination of the Maryland Green School program and by engaging in activities from the Project Learning Tree (PLT) Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers curriculum.

This 3.5-hour workshop allows the facilitator to build participant background knowledge through case studies focused on Maryland Green School actions and how this program is empowering youth to make changes to reduce environmental impact, encourage sustainability and foster environmental literacy, and how these actions can be a direct path to introducing students to green career opportunities.

Participants will then examine Maryland Green School application examples, which include school and student initiatives in rural, suburban, and urban settings, as well as community partnerships in these areas. Through breakout room discussions, participants will brainstorm ideas for increasing interest in green careers and how a green school program can support this focus. Then, participants will engage in virtually adapted activities from the PLT Green Jobs curriculum and reflect on how these activities can be used with their students. Through discussion and collaboration, they will create an action plan they can use in their own schools/programs.

Maximum (for registration): 50


The Road to NAAEE Higher Education Accreditation: Mapping Your Successful Application

Tuesday, October 12, 11:30 AM-3:00 PM EDT
Presenters: Becca Franzen; Billy Bennett, Kentucky Environmental Education Council; Stewart Janes, Southern Oregon University; Dorothea Shuman, Montreat College; Melinda Wilder, Eastern Kentucky University; Patty Born, Hamline University School of Education
Price: $25

If faculty members from your university are thinking about applying for NAAEE Accreditation, now or within the next few years, this workshop is an invaluable step to becoming an accredited Distinguished College and University Program. You will meet with and learn from faculty members from college and university programs that have already been through the accreditation process. The format of this workshop is such that you will have the opportunity to delve into each step of the accreditation process and examine each required part of the final application. Accreditation standards are derived from the Professional Development of Environmental Educators: Guidelines for Excellence. To be awarded accreditation requires that universities provide evidence that their program content, student artifacts, and student assessments are aligned to the Guidelines for Excellence. In this workshop, time will be spent unpacking each Guideline and how university programs can address these guidelines in their programs. Once the participants in the workshop develop a good working understanding of the Guidelines, the workshop will move to a detailed description of the Accreditation requirements. Faculty members will have time to examine sample evidence—course descriptions, assessments, and scoring rubrics—that have been used by successful programs that have been accredited. There will also be time allotted for one-on-one consultation with workshop leaders who are faculty members from accredited programs. These colleagues will help you clarify what the accreditation application process will look like for your university and offer insights into the steps required for preparing a successful application. You will leave this workshop with targeted advice based on the specifics of your program and confidence to move forward with the accreditation process.

Maximum (for registration): 20