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"Zooming Out:" An Alum's Perspective on the Value of EENC's Online Courses



In 2023, EENC delivered five cohorts of our in-house online courses, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Environmental Education (JEDI), and Universal Design for Learning in Environmental Education (UDL), reaching over 300 educators across the state.


Kate Gavaghan, Garden and Outdoor Club Leader for the Wake Boys and Girls Club, took both courses this year as an Honorary Member. Here’s what she told Program Coordinator Michelle Pearce about her experience:

 

I took both of these classes and found both to be valuable.


These courses helped me "zoom out" from my detailed planning to take a broader view of my students' needs and perspectives. Starting a lesson plan (particularly an active, outdoor class) from a UDL perspective means I'm going to offer several options for students to learn and interact with nature. I'll be prepared for a range of learning modalities and will see this scope as the norm.


A JEDI construct is similar in that it acknowledges injustices in environmental protection and outdoor access and aims to proactively create a more inclusive and welcoming outdoor education world. It helps us see our implicit biases and tackle them.


As educators, we know that we are often learning right alongside our students. We know that there isn't an "average" learner, really, in any sense. The more we move away from the false concept of "the average student" and conceptualize diversity as the norm, the better we will be at preparing and delivering rich learning experiences.


 

Whether you work in the formal or nonformal education space, EENC's core courses can help you get a bird's-eye view of inclusive pedagogy, and provide tangible, practical strategies and resources for implementing equity across your environmental education practice. Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Kate!


In 2024, EENC has ambitious plans to grow our list of professional learning opportunities: in addition to offering our existing slate UDL, JEDI, NAAEE Guidelines for Excellence courses, and Outdoor Inquiry workshops, we will launch an online course on evaluation in environmental education, and a series of in-person workshops on climate justice in environmental education. Help us have our best year of programming yet by donating to our annual campaign at https://www.mightycause.com/story/Eenc2023.



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