This month, EENC has started to collect more detailed information regarding the demographics of our members and participants in an effort to better include and serve those in our community.
EENC was one of eight states who collaborated with the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA) in 2021 to identify gaps and barriers to access in environmental education in the region, and locally in the state, through the Landscape Analysis. Through this, we looked at who was being served by environmental education. The responses suggested that 35% of EE student audiences are black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) - but only 37 of the 122 EE providers in North Carolina shared this information. And the response rate wasn’t much better for staffing and leadership.
This indicates that many EE providers do not collect demographic data on their participants or their staff. EENC believes environmental education and resources should be accessible to all communities, and we can’t know if we are successful as a field without this type of information. We recognize collecting this information can be hard for EE providers, simply because best practices indicate that this information should be self-reported, and that can be challenging to navigate when we consider staff comfortability with sharing that information, perceived political challenges, student trust, obtaining parental consent to collect data from minors, and available time during a program day.
And providers aren’t alone! These realizations made EENC reflect on the information we collect as well. If you’ve attended an EENC workshop in the past, you’ve probably seen the demographic questions we ask in our final evaluations. EENC collects this data as a progress marker to assess how we are meeting our mission, vision, and strategic goals and we analyze the results annually. After reflecting on our processes, we realized that even with this strategy, we were still missing large sections of our network - from members who might not attend events, to online webinar participants who often don’t fill out evaluations, to repeat participants who only filled the information out the first time. This is why we’re changing our systems and providing an opportunity for self-reported demographic data through our program registrations and membership profile pages.
The first rollout of this self-reporting data collection will be seen in our program registration for workshops, CommunitEEs, and online courses. It is also included in the registration information for the 2022 Annual Conference. Toward the end of July, the demographic questionnaire will be included in all membership renewals as well, but if you have renewed your membership before then you can log in to your EENC account and update your information anytime through your profile.
EENC plans to provide more learning resources over the next year on how to best collect demographic data to support our community and help EE providers learn more about the communities they serve. We are taking these first small steps to get a better picture of our community of EE practitioners. Together, let’s make #EEforAll.