Professional Development

Building Our Capacity and Broadening Our Perspectives

 educators presenting to each other

We are the only statewide organization in Oregon whose role is to promote and influence environmental education on national and statewide levels each day. We are committed to creating a more coordinated network of environmental educators and community leaders across Oregon and beyond, working together to change policy and perception while promoting the value of being more connected to each other and where we live.

We have also made a commitment to better connect environmental educators and community leaders with a wider array of culturally and economically diverse communities and to inspire others in engaging and nurturing the next generation of environmentally literate citizens (see below for our inclusiveness statement). We initiate, lead and facilitate large-scale projects that advance innovation in environmental education and build our collective capacity to be effective environmental educators.

Read Our Inclusiveness Statement


Strengthening Our Capacityee capacity

EE Capacity is working with states to help build capacity by connecting a new cadre of urban and diverse EE professionals with established environmental educators. EE Capacity is funded by a generous grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Lead partners include NAAEE and Cornell University’s Civic Ecology Lab.

In year 2, Oregon was selected as a grant recipient and State Consortia. We worked with EE Capacity to build our capacity and engaged more than 20 educators from urban community, environmental stewardship, and environmental justice organizations, as well as zoos, community gardens, nature centers, schools, parks, and other organizations who committed to participating in an intensive series of workshops and online learning opportunities for a period of one year or longer.

Through our EE Capacity project, our diverse group developed shared values and next steps to promote diversity and inclusiveness within the field. They valued:

  • Building bridges with other community partners
  • Emphasizing leadership development and relationship building
  • Creating new and different models to measure societal “success”
  • Promoting the practice of EE that is driven by real community issues and needs
  • Making programs locally relevant and culturally appropriate
  • Integrating the local environment as part of all curriculum, supported through pedagogy, policy, and service


Next steps included:

  • An extended evaluation project, including a set of recommendations from leaders about integrating EE in diverse communities
  • Creating an inclusive Regional Leadership Model (see below)
  • Partnering with Center for Diversity and the Environment to create a cadre of change agents (see below)
  • Keeping the discussion going amongst the group

Read Oregon's EE Capacity Report

Read the Extended EE Capacity Evaluation Report and PowerPoint Presentation

Center for Diversity and Environment E42: Cadre of Change Agentscohort image

These leaders have completed a 9 month path of exploring equity, diversity & inclusion and building their capacity to catalyze a multicultural revolution in the environmental movement! And now, they are dedicated to developing a community action service project around community development and anti-displacement. They are staying connected, listening, researching, and evaluating next steps. We are thrilled with the work they have done and will continue to do. Big thanks to Metro Nature in Neighborhoods, Spirit Mountain Community Fund & Gray Family Foundation for generously supporting E42 EE and to the Center for Diversity and Environment for making this work possible.



Creating A Regional Leadership Model

diverse leaders sitting in a circle

We are committed to creating a more coordinated network of environmental educators across Oregon. We are also dedicated to providing under-represented and marginalized communities opportunities to be leaders within the environmental education field. We want to empower all residents to be environmental education leaders in Oregon.

Beginning in Portland Metro

Within the Portland Metro area, several networks exist (Regional Environmental Education Network, Adult Conservation Education Northwest, Portland Farm to School–just to name a few). Additionally, a number of organizations including Verde and Hacienda also provide environmental education but are not fully integrated within our existing leadership models. Although some cross‐pollinating occurs across initiatives, unified leadership and inclusive collaboration to support environmental education as a whole has not yet been fully attained in the Metro Region. We want to change that.

Our desired long-term outcome is to build more inclusive environmental education through leadership development and a replicable regional framework. In the near term, we hope to accomplish the following:

  • Build and implement an inclusive model for environmental education in Portland.
  • Elevate marginalized community leaders in environmental education.
  • Embed equity, diversity and inclusion within more culturally and socially relevant environmental education practices.
  • Deepen relationship building especially across race and ethnicity between marginalized communities and mainstream environmental education groups.

How Are We Creating a Regional Leadership Model

ee community wheel

Read more about our process

The Leadership Team


cary watters

Cary Watters
Native American Youth & Family Center


queta gonzales

Queta Gonzalez
Center for Diversity and the Environment


traci price

Traci Price
EEAO Consultant


Meet our regional members  See the Regional Team's Work

What We Learned

“Dominator culture has tried to keep us all afraid, to make us choose safety instead of risk, sameness instead of diversity. Moving through that fear, finding out what connects us, reveling in our differences; this is the process that brings us closer, that gives us a world of shared values,of meaningful community.

– bell hooks

Twenty-five organizational partners from 2015-2017 in Portland, Oregon co-developed a shared regional vision for inclusive environmental education, one that connects with and supports environmental justice. We were interested in addressing root causes and impacts of the divide between our communities. For two years our regional members built relationships with one another and worked together to find common ground.

SHARED REGIONAL VISION: environmental education is couched within environmental justice, explicitly anti-racist, and affirms the diverse strengths and needs of communities of color and low-income,ultimately strengthening our region as a whole.

What we found is that becoming more inclusive requires the transformative work of relationship and analysis building on individual, organizational and systems levels. Despite fundamental differences in our lived experiences, we can
develop and strengthen relationships across difference with an equity lens that support our ability to work together more effectively in a changing paradigm.

Some general themes, findings and recommendations to keep in mind whether you’re an environmental educator, community partner, funder, or anyone working to build a more vibrant and just future for us all:

  • Shared Racial Equity Analysis – develop a common understanding of race and equity; many of
    our team members participated in Center for Diversity & the Environment’s Environment 2042
    Leadership Program.
  • Inclusive Leadership – model inclusivity on all levels; follow leaders from communities of color
    and low-income, and pay institutionally under-resourced leaders for their time.
  • Value Process & Product – working across difference to create a new paradigm takes time, time
    where important relationships can be built and new non-dominant processes embraced.
  • Balance Equity & Inclusivity – pay attention to power dynamics; create space for diverse voices
    to lead and opportunities for all perspectives to be valued.
  • Power & Justice – prioritize organizational and community assessments of equity through an
    historic and current lens.
  • Culture – value intersectionality and community driven processes and success.
  • Leadership Development & Jobs – build pipelines for diverse youth to become conservation leaders and capacity for culturally specific organizations to train and employ them.
  • Funding – encourage fiscal sponsorships and resources directed to communities of color and low-income.

Our regional members found the time together to be worthwhile and a first step in creating change. We encourage you to begin the journey.

pdfRead Executive Summary pdfRead Final Report pdfAppendices
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Our Vision

Oregon communities compassionately working together to create equitable connections to and expressions of the local and global environments.

Our Mission

To cultivate environmental literacy and engagement among diverse community leaders

EEAO is the Oregon affiliate of


in 2005 we received NAAEE Affiliate of the Year

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  •    EEAO works to ensure everyone in Oregon has an opportunity to learn about the environment and society where they live. We value inclusiveness and welcome everyone to the field of environmental education.