Gaining Perspective: Seeing EE through Different Lenses

Oakland, CA, here we come! The entire cohort is traveling down to Oakland tomorrow for the 2012 North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Annual Conference.

And not only are we attending the conference, but we are presenting….not just once, but twice. Which is kind of a big deal! Our presentation titles and summaries are:

“Empowering EE Leaders through Project-based Collaboration”

We will share a project-based model which cultivates new leaders and a cooperative decision-making environment. Learn how intention and organization helped our diverse team successfully face challenges of collaboration, project management, and group dynamics in developing a residential outdoor program.

“Re-imagining Inquiry in Place-based Education”

Discover a unique model for incorporating student directed inquiry into classrooms and residential programs.This model encourages students to build on each other’s knowledge and emphasizes inquiry as a nonlinear process, leading to new questions rather than definitive answers.


We know that the above summaries barely scratch the surface of what we have done and are going to talk about, so here are some notes that outline the basics of each presentation. If you are interested in more information, please feel free to contact us at

“Empowering EE Leaders through Project-based Collaboration”

  • Our diverse cohort was asked to create two environmental education programs from scratch in a year. While taking graduate courses, working, and (sometimes) sleeping/having a life.
  • I say “diverse” cohort because we all have different experiences and career goals.
  • There are a lot of challenges that can come out of the above situation: potential for disagreements, tight time schedule, everyone having an equal say, and more.
  • We chose to succeed. This is a vital point.
  • We realized individual success and group success were synonymous.
  • So we set a culture of: positivity, interdependence, adaptability, patience, and respect for individuals.
  • We took the time to establish group process. (How to make decisions, role of facilitators, etc.)
  • Our recommendations to other facing similar challenges:
  1. Set a Positive Intention and Repeat It
  2. It’s Worth Taking the Time Now
  3. Use The Diversity of Your Team
  4. Prioritize Personal Dynamics
  5. Maintain a Team Orientation


“Re-imagining Inquiry in Place-based Education”

  • We came up with an awesome system of scientific inquiry for our Fall in the Field program. It works like this:
  • Questioning
  • Observing
  • Communicating
  • Collecting data
  • There is no specific starting point, and there is no end point! This is the true method that scientists use, unlike the typically taught “scientific method”.
  • In our lessons, we focus on developing one of these skills, with questioning being a thread throughout.
  • We have found that this method focuses the students to the place they are in, develops confidence in their scientific skills, and leads to increased environmental literacy.

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