EENC believes in #EEforAll. We envision a future where all North Carolina children grow up feeling connected to nature, understand natural systems, develop the skills needed to address environmental challenges, and have attitudes, motivations, and commitments to make informed decisions and take responsible action. We want all learners participating in environmental education programs in North Carolina feel welcome and engaged. And we want North Carolina’s population of professional environmental educators reflects our state’s residents. Addressing equity and inclusion in environmental education is a critical part of this effort.
Earlier this month, EENC hosted an "Equity and the Environment" workshop in Asheville at the YMI Cultural Center. Over 75 people representing a wide range of fields and professional roles came together. Facilitator Marisol Jiménez opened the day with a plenary session, inspiring attendees to reflect on their personal journeys, providing some common language to frame conversations through the day, and shared the often untold history of the intersection between race and the environment in our region. During the afternoon, attendees could choose to further their individual understanding of systemic racism with Marisol Jiménez , explore organizational strategies and implications with Marsha Davis, or learn from local EE practitioners who are incorporating equity throughout their work. 94% of workshop respondents reported they feel more prepared to talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workplace after this workshop AND 94% of respondents feel at least somewhat more prepared to engage diverse learners and community members after this workshop.
Beyond supporting our professional community, EENC is looking inward. Over Veteran's Day weekend, EENC board and staff members participated in a three-day equity and engagement strategy session with the Center for Diversity & the Environment. During this time, we reflected on our organization's current status, envisioned our future, and crafted a plan to help us get there.
Both of these trainings were possible thanks to support from NAAEE and ee360. We recognized this conversation is a journey, not an end-point. EENC plans to continue to keep our community talking about this topic. We look forward to having you in the conversation.
Stay tuned! Our next event on this topic will be a workshop on culturally responsive environmental education in Greensboro in January. We'll post the final details for this event on our events page soon!