2018 EEAO Conference Presentation Descriptions

KEYNOTE: “Our Climate, Our Future” Our Children’s Trust Lawsuit against the Federal Government
Mel Bankoff, PSS - Partner for Sustainable Schools, Coreal Riday-White and youth plaintiffs, Our Children’s Trust
Friday, September 28, Keynote, 7:15-9:30pm

“The right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” With the several youth plaintiffs as well as the Community Engagement Manager for Our Children’s Trust in attendance, come learn more about this climate lawsuit and call for engagement and action. The evening will be paired with the documentary film “The Reluctant Radical” whose protagonist Ken Ward will be in attendance and coordinating on the evening’s presentation. Q&A to follow.

Including: “Reluctant Radical” Documentary Film
In attendance: Ken Ward, Movie Protagonist

The Reluctant Radical follows activist Ken Ward as he confronts his fears and puts himself in the direct path of the fossil fuel industry to combat climate change. Ken breaks the law as a last resort, to fulfill what he sees as his personal obligation to future generations. After twenty years leading environmental organizations, Ken became increasingly alarmed by both the scientific evidence of climate change and the repercussions for civilization as we know it. Ken pushed for a crisis level response from inside environmental organizations. Those efforts failed, and he now embraces direct action civil disobedience as the most effective political tool to deal with catastrophic circumstances.

The Reluctant Radical follows Ken for a year and a half through a series of direct actions, culminating with his participation in the coordinated action that shut down all the U.S. tar sands oil pipelines on October 11, 2016. The film reveals both the personal costs and also the fulfillment that comes from following one’s moral calling- even if that means breaking the law. Ken Ward has no regrets, and his certainty leaves the audience to consider if he is out of touch with reality, or if it is the rest of society that is delusional for not acting when faced with the unsettling evidence that we are collectively destroying our world.

Director Lindsey Grayzel, co-producer Deia Schlosberg and cinematographer Carl Davis were three of four independent filmmakers to be arrested and charged with crimes for filming the activists on October 11, 2016. Their charges have been dropped, and they have joined forces to tell Ken’s story through this film.


Connections Between the State of EE in Oregon and Beyond

Engaging Learners with Oregon’s Ecosystems, from Streams to Sagebrush
Rick Reynolds, Engaging Every Student
Saturday, September 29, 9:15-10:45am

Learn hands-on strategies to engage students in thinking about Oregon’s ecosystems and their fascinating organisms, from crayfish to coyotes. We will explore lessons that dive deep into our native and invasive species and the connections between them from free resources including Investigating Crayfish + Their Ecosystems (coming soon) and Inquiry, Exploration, and Service Learning in the Sagebrush Ecosystem.

Participants will conduct line transects, set traps for crayfish, analyze skulls, integrate systems thinking, art, technology, and more!

Ways to Engage with Green School Programs: Waste, Watts, Water, Wildlife and More!
Morgan Parks, National Wildlife Federation and Becca Gilbert, Oregon Green Schools
Saturday, September 29, 1:45-3:15pm

Oregon Green Schools and National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools USA are green school programs that empower PK-12 students to take sustainable action in their communities and become stewards of their environment through place-based authentic learning. By learning about waste, energy, wildlife and water systems, students will measure the difference they make in their schools, translating into positive impacts for our planet.

Whether you’re a formal or non-formal educator, your engagement with students can help schools earn recognition and awards for anything from resource conservation to raising salmon/trout in the classroom or learning about monarch butterflies and other wildlife. Come learn about our pathways of sustainability, help conduct an outdoor Schoolyard Habitat audit, and discover how schools can become certified by providing essential wildlife habitat elements. Benefits of our programs include improved environmental literacy and connection to nature, a reduced carbon footprint, alignment with education standards (NGSS/CCSS/NSES/OELP), active STEAM learning, lesson links and curriculum, free resources, financial savings, signage, and more.

We will conduct an outdoor Schoolyard Habitat audit (assessment) of the camp facility and grounds as well as complete a Certification Checklist of present wildlife habitat components.

Crossing the Waters to Work with Formal Educators: Things you Need to Know About Creating a Bridge Between Informal and Formal Education
Sarah Stapleton, University of Oregon
Saturday, September 29, 3:30-4:30pm

In this session, Sarah will draw on her experiences as a former public school teacher who partnered with EE groups, and a current teacher educator and researcher working with EE organizations and teachers to help EE practitioners think about the differing contexts and worlds of practice of formal education. We will engage in a number of hands-on activities to allow participants to bring in their own experiences and questions about working with teachers, schools, and the Next Generation Science Standards.

In this session, I will ask all participants to do a chalk and talk, using post-it notes to pose questions/answers they have. I will also do a walk-the-line activity to formatively assess where people are in terms of their comfort level and experience in working with formal educators. If I have other formal educators in the session, I will allow them space to answer questions as well. (These activities can be done indoors or outdoors.)

EE Activities for a Very Popular Planet
Shirley Lomax, Western Oregon University
Sunday, September 30, 10:30am-12:00noon

Discover lively, interdisciplinary activities that help elementary students understand the human ecological footprint and the challenges of sharing finite resources as our population grows. Build science, math, literacy and critical thinking skills while fostering global and civic awareness.

A variety of activity formats – simulations, games, cooperative group work -- aim for inclusiveness for students with different learning styles. Receive electronic lesson plans matched to NGSS, Common Core and OELP standards.

Participants will engage in “Panther Hunt”: Every piece of land has a limited carrying capacity for the number of animals and/or humans it can support. In this simulation game (which can be done outdoors or indoors), students gain an understanding of carrying capacity when they act as predatory animals in a finite area and attempt to accumulate enough food to stay alive. Follow-up discussion considers different variables that could affect the animals’ survival and comparing/contrasting human needs with needs of other species.


Connecting Tools, Technology and Science-based Education

Connecting Kids to the Outdoors with Cross-Age Mentoring
Marie Reeder, Rogue River School District
Saturday, September 29, 11:00am-12:00noon

I will share my experiences recruiting high school and junior high mentors to work with 5th and 6th grade classes for the past six years, delivering several in-class activities (e.g., building clay models of our watershed) and hosting two field days annually, as well as guiding our students on tours of the drinking water and waste water treatment plants in Rogue River. The program builds interest in our high school’s FFA program, a high school Adopt-a-Stream project with the BLM, and schoolwide mentoring programs, and has offered college tours and a summer field biology class based on local impacts of climate change. We are now graduating students who have participated as volunteers for four and five years. The program also is a cost and time effective way to get our rurally isolated and low income students outdoors regularly.

We will participate in some or all of the following as time allows: Exploring the greenhouse effect with canning jars and thermometers; balloons full of water and air; test tubes of water and rulers. Introducing watershed shed geography with a coordinate graph, using a gridded tarp to have students walk to points and learn to associate cardinal directions with positive and negative numbers before we move to paper mapping.

Lessons for Success in the School Garden or Outdoor Classroom
Lucy Miner and Sarah Wheeler, School Garden Project of Lane County
Saturday, September 29, 1:45-3:15pm

During this workshop, presenters will share a lesson series designed for educators to help students strengthen their sense of place and connection to their school garden or outdoor classroom of any kind. These hands-on, standards-based activities are focused in the subject areas of art, writing, science, and data collection. They can be stand-alone, or practiced throughout the year and over the seasons, with many lesson extension ideas. Participants will practice the botanical illustration activity and come away with all of the lesson plans and worksheets, in addition to resources around creating a successful routine and best practices for outdoor classroom management.

Throughout the workshop, participants will learn strategies for designing inclusive lessons that support students with varying learning needs. We will model the introduction of the botanical illustration lesson and lead participants through the activity using the accompanying worksheet. During this time, we will point out components of the lesson that incorporate inclusive strategies for supporting students with varying learning needs. Additionally, participants will engage in a scavenger hunt designed to help educators evaluate the key considerations for using any space as an outdoor classroom.

A New Era of Discovery: Connecting Students to Place Through Arts, Science, and Technology
Sarah Minette Kelly, Oregon State University, H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest
Saturday, September 29, 3:30-5:00pm

The Discovery Trail at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest (HJA) is a one-mile, ten-stop loop, representing a microcosm of HJA aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. We created the Discovery Trail Interpretative Experience for local middle and high school classes to engage with place through an iPad-delivered arts, humanities, and conservation science field trip curriculum. The iPads enable both an innovative learning experience and data collection for assessment.

The digital curriculum blends place-based ecological research by HJA scientists and place-based creative inquiry by visiting writers and artists. The field science content covers NGSS crosscutting concepts like stability and change, patterns, cause and effect, and systems. The iPad curriculum invites students to reflect on their values for forests, imagine the perspective of forest creatures, and explore questions about surroundings they observe, like rotting logs, forest disturbances, and dry streambeds. Students view images of record floods on Lookout Creek, watch videos of red tree voles high in the canopy, listen to Native American stories, read poetry written in the forest, and investigate watershed data over time. We also incorporate opportunities for students to put down the iPads and engage with the forest directly through activities like a silent sensory walk and sound mapping.

During this conference session, participants will first embark on a virtual journey to the Andrews Forest Discovery Trail, imagining a typical day for students who visit the forest on field trips. Then, participants will venture outside for a silent sensory walk and explore one Discovery Trail stop on mobile technology. I will present research findings about the student and teacher experience and share challenges and solutions to using electronics in place-based education. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session.

Connecting Pollination to Food Production through Hands-on Exploration and Service Learning
Kassia Rudd, Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom
Sunday, September 30, 10:30am-12noon

To teach about pollinators, you first have to understand them. This session will introduce participants to 1) the nuts and bolts of gardening for pollinators; 2) identifying native pollinators and their preferred plants; 3) the mechanics of pollination and its significance for food production; 4) tips and tricks for teaching students of all ages about pollinators through academic lesson plans tied to NGSS and Common Core. We will also share teaching resources such as books and lesson kits, and model opportunities for service learning through citizen science. You do not need to have a school garden to benefit from this workshop but do be ready to go outside!
Outdoor activities will also be replicable with children. 1) Participants will form teams and become experts in one category of pollinator and will head outside to identify a plant that they think their pollinator would visit. Each team will present their pollinator and plant to the rest of the group, leading the group to their plant through a pre-determined waggle dance (bee communication). 2) Inside, table groups will engage with pollinator specific lesson plans and teaching materials, such as kits and books. 3) Table groups will also be assigned a pollinator citizen science task. They will go back outside, collect data, and then share their experience with the rest of the group.


Connecting Oregon Communities: DEI Initiatives and Practices in Action

Connecting Rural & Urban Communities: Breaking the perceived barriers with intentional, place based environmental education
Karelia Ver Eecke, Kora Mousseaux and Clint Nichols, JSWCD - Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District
Saturday, September 29, 9:15-10:45am

By definition, rural and urban communities are different. But as society has become more mobile, more educated, and more heterogeneous, how different are these communities, really? A current literature review of environmental education and environmental perceptions in communities around the world indicate that when we get down to the nuts and bolts of it, a rural resident may be just as likely, maybe even more likely, to have conservation and environmentally oriented values. Conversely, an urban resident may be deeply connected to natural resources, despite being far removed from them. In a world where we are continuously bombarded by media, how does the media we are fed and consume influence our values? How does our place of socialization shape our behavior? How can we create lasting, intentional, place-based, and realistic environmental education opportunities for a diverse audience? Are our current perceptions hobbling our successes and approaches in Oregon’s communities?

During this session we will explore these questions and associated explanations and theories through a presentation, and interactive role-play session with session attendees.

Reflecting on Personal Perspective: A Tool for Educators
Sarah Anderson, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science
Saturday, September 29, 11:00am-12:00noon

How do we prepare ourselves to teach diverse perspectives within environmental education? How can we ready ourselves to meet our students where they are instead of making assumptions about their beliefs and experiences? At the Cottonwood School of Civics and Science, teachers have created a simple reflection tool to help examine their personal values, assumptions, and biases concerning content before they teach it.

In this workshop you will see the practice modeled and have the opportunity to practice self-reflection using your own topics. You will also come away with a greater understanding of the many ways place-based education and culturally responsive teaching naturally overlap.

Cultural Curiosity in the Outdoor Classroom
Robin Butterfield, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska with ancestry from the White Earth Ojibwa Tribe of Minnesota, Education
Ciarra Greene, Nimiipuu, Traditional Ecological Knowledge/Chemistry/STEM Education
Saturday, September 29, 1:45-3:15pm

Culture is something everybody has. With a willingness to be curious, participants will gain cultural self awareness and cross-cultural understanding to help educators and students become co-responsible for building healthy communities. This workshop will provide guiding principles and activities for educators to engage students on a journey of inclusivity from an indigenous perspective in an outdoor setting and will include a discussion led by a Native leader in Traditional Ecological Knowledge on what matters most when teaching about place from a multicultural framework.

Participants will engage in activities adapted from and learn about guidelines associated with REACH (Respecting Ethnic And Cutlural Heritage ) and Since Time Immemorial Curriculum from Washington State. Traditional Ecological Knowledge and NGSS will be introduced in panel discussion.

Soil to Soul: Inquiry into Pan-African Earth Connection
Danielle Jones, M.S. Educational Leadership & Policy, Portland State University
Saturday, September 29, 3:30-4:30pm

This research aims to explore the interconnectedness of generational trauma, collective knowledge, sustainable practices, and Black identity. This study, conducted in the Portland Metro regions asks: How do Pan-African people perceive their connection to the Earth? What is the relationship between connection to the Earth and personal health? What are participants' values around consumption and materialism and how do these values relate to their racial identity? This exploratory study utilizes findings from 12 interviews and guidance from a small community-advisory board to explore this phenomenon of “earth connection.”

This presentation will discuss major findings from this study, followed by reflective activities (held outside) for educators wishing to explore how to better connect sustainability curriculum to their Pan-African students’ experiences.

Outside, we will engage in reflective activities to explore how, as an educator you might better connect sustainability curriculum to Pan-African students’ experiences (guided meditation, reflective writing, and group discussion).

Developing Culturally Responsive Outdoor Education
Antonia Decker and Lena Baucum, Straub Environmental Center
Sunday, September 30, 10:30-12:00 noon

The problem is clear – there are not nearly enough people of color in STEM-related careers. In addition, science learning occurs along a developmental continuum much like reading, writing, or mathematics. A longitudinal study of 7,757 children indicated large gaps in general knowledge already evident at kindergarten entry. Kindergarten general knowledge was the strongest predictor of first-grade general knowledge, which in turn was the strongest predictor of children’s science achievement from third to eighth grade. Large science achievement gaps were evident when science achievement measures first became available in third grade. These gaps persisted until at least the end of eighth grade.

¡Naturaleza Ahora! (Nature Now!) is the Straub Environmental Center’s community-based, multi-year and multi-phased Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiative designed to reduce the necessary barriers for Latinx students and families to access the outdoors in the Willamette Valley through our nature-based education programs and to combat the associated causes of the achievement gap.

Likewise, this initiative involves redesigning and creating new culturally relevant, culturally sensitive and welcoming nature-based education programs—informed from voices from our regional Latinx community—to boost Latinx program participation rates and to create a space/format for our vibrant and ever-growing Latinx community to receive the benefits of interdisciplinary education (natural science, humanities, social studies, health and wellness, cultural ecological knowledge, etc.) in nature.

Antonia will present on the process of establishing and coordinating our Naturaleza Ahora! Initiative and some preliminary findings with respect to creating culturally-relevant and inclusive environmental education programming. Lena’s presentation will address how those findings can be used to develop specific educational content and methods designed to close the achievement gap that are often experienced by students of color. This information will draw on educational research in best practices related to diverse student populations, and how STRAUB applies these principles to outdoor education.


Connecting Nature, Arts, Spirit and Science

Connecting Outdoor School and EE with Arts & Creative Writing
Tess Malijenovsky, Willamette Partnership
Saturday, September 29, 9:15-10:45am

Contrary to popular belief, the scientist and the artist have a lot in common when “investigating” the natural world. Come learn about how two outdoor schools—one large, one small—integrated more arts and creative writing into their environmental education curricula, and why this creative lens can be a powerful tool for helping more students become fascinated with the natural world.

We’ll go over the lessons learned, a new resource to help ODS providers/educators consider their options for doing the same, as well as an overview of the Honoring Our Rivers project, which publishes student (K-college) artwork and writing inspired rivers and our environment.

We will step out into nature to demo a short creative writing and/or hands-on art activity inspired by our natural setting. This could include free-writing, group writing, impromptu earth art, plant sketching, or photography activities.

An Experiential Introduction to Sharing Nature Activities
Roy Simpson, RangerRoyExplore.com
Saturday, September 29, 11:00am-12:00noon

This Sharing Nature with Children workshop offers a unique way to explore the environment using guided activities and games to help you explore and experience the natural beauty around you. Based on the work of educator/author Joseph Cornell (Sharing Nature with Children), participants learn by experiencing a number of hands-on activities that enhance a deep appreciation and love for nature.

The simple activities can be easily reproduced and adapted to teach groups ranging in ages from young children to adults in a variety of settings and cultures.

Establishing Connections In Environmental Science By Engaging Learners And Integrating Relevance, Responsibility, and Resilience
Valerie Stephan-LeBoeuf, The Animals' Trust
Saturday, September 29, 1:45-3:15pm

This session presents several strategic activities that establish place-based relevance to local and global environmental issues by connecting students and communities through the use of technology. Building on students’ capacity for compassion, creativity, and current level of applied technological understanding, incorporating technology in environmental education supports the facilitation of project-based collaboration using an active, problem- centered approach.

The incorporated hands-on portion includes several strategic activities that establish place-based relevance to local and global environmental issues that instructors can use to connect students and communities through the use of technology.

From Hopelessness to Love: Countering Narratives of a Dystopian Future
Lauriel Amoroso, The Cottonwood School of Civics and Science & Doctoral Student at Portland State University
Saturday, September 29, 3:30-5:00pm

The year is 2018 and it feels like the world is falling apart. The climate is changing, the oceans are filling with plastic, inequality is increasing, and basic facts are being disputed in public discourse. While it feels quite reasonable to feel hopeless about the future, the reality is that narratives of dystopia are disconnecting us from our communities, ourselves, and the natural world. As educators who are focused on helping our students connect to nature, learn critical scientific skills, and supporting the long-term health and welling of our communities, we find ourselves in a difficult place where we must have hope that our efforts will make a difference and yet it is so easy to feel despair.

In this interactive, sensory focused workshop, we will explore the dominant narratives and practices that frame environmental/nature based teaching that often focus on the many problems of the world. Through creative reflection and dialogue will then imagine how we can shift from narratives and practices of despair to narratives and practices that describe and build a better future; narratives and practices grounded in hope, love, and connection.

Using Primitive Skills to Teach About the Natural World
Teri Lysak, Cascadia Wild
Sunday, September 30, 10:30am-12:00noon

Primitive skills provide a way for people to interact with the natural world. These skills encompass both ancient hunter-gatherer technologies – fire, sharp things, string, and carrying containers – as well as basic survival needs – shelter, water, and food. This presentation will share the basics of each of the skills and tips on how to teach them both in the classroom and in the field. Interacting with the natural world in this way facilitates learning and helps people develop a sense of place.

Hands-on activities are site and time dependent and could include making string from plants collected on site, tasting edible plants, trying different fire tinders, building a small debris shelter, or breaking river rocks to create sharp edges.


Connecting Educators and Students to Outdoor School

Outdoor School for All! Diverse Programming and Impacts in Oregon
Steven Braun, Oregon Environmental Literacy Program
Spirit Brooks, Oregon State University Extension
Saturday, September 29, 11:00am-12:00noon

Oregon’s legislative charge, providing Outdoor School for All has begun! Every fifth or sixth student in Oregon will ultimately attend - seventy-five percent attended in 2017/8. Who is missing and why? How does outdoor school vary statewide? What are the common outcomes across diverse programs serving diverse audiences?

Connecting to Oak Woodlands with 4-H ODS Curriculum
Darin Borgstadter, Oregon 4-H Center
Sunday, September 30, 10:30am-12:00noon

The Oregon 4-H Center is a field unit of the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service that offers curriculum program support for three-day outdoor schools. Schools reserving the Oregon 4-H Center as their outdoor school site receive access to lesson plans and materials kits at no additional cost above the day use fee. Schools are also provided with an Outdoor School Agenda and the data they need to comply with the OSU Extension Service Outdoor School grant reporting requirements for the Concept Areas, Content Areas and Instructional Strategies included in the 4-H Center’s Discovering Oak Woodlands program.

The Discovering Oak Woodlands curriculum includes nine lessons. Three different lessons are to be taught each day. Field lessons topics include for Day 1 are Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles and Amphibians, for Day 2 are Water Cycle and Watersheds, Aquatic Habitat Ecology and Macro-invertebrates, and Weather and Climate, and for Day 3 are Oak Woodland Habitat, Oak Tree Ecology and Forestry, and Willamette Valley Soils and Geology.

The lessons are correlated to the Salem/Keizer school district’s science scope and sequence for grade 5 science and support diversity, equity and inclusion goals. The field lessons were compiled for the Oregon 4-H Center by Professor Virginia Bourdeau, State 4-H STEM Specialist. Bourdeau has been recognized by the National Science Teachers Association with their Distinguished Informal Science Educator Award for her curriculum development.

In this session participants will be introduced to free on-line resources to prepare students for their field experience and be engaged in hands-on lessons from the Discovering Oak Woodlands program.

[More to come in this strand…]




Annette Lee, Astrophysicist, Artist and the Director of the Native Skywatchers
Sunday, September 30, 9:00-10:15am

[...More details coming soon]



The Ecosystem of Outdoor Education: Exploring our Connections through Outdoor Education
Bethany Shetterly Thomas, ECO - Ecology in Classrooms and Outdoors
Sunday, September 30, 9:00-10:15am

The Oregon Environmental Literacy Program (OELP) positions Oregon as a national environmental education leader by fostering environmental literacy at every grade level, K-12. What a lucky position for our students to be in, and what a great opportunity for us as EEAO members to support them.
With limited state funding available for the OELP, our organizations and foundations work together to help make the OELP substantial and meaningful. In working together, we are capable of bringing the students of Oregon outstanding experiences in and about nature. In order to better work together, we need to better know each other. There are so many hidden needs and resources amongst our own EEAO community. By getting to know each other and our organization’s better, we can better partner with one another, to provide outstanding environmental education opportunities for the students and teachers of Oregon.

In this session, we will all share about ourselves, as well as our organization’s needs, resources and hopes and plans for the future. In developing our understanding of one another, we will build and strengthen relationships - the foundation of strong partnerships. In addition to conversation, I will share some research, for background, on networks. This session will include indoor and outdoor activities, beginning with the “Natural Networks” activity outdoors followed by a “Rapid Collaboration” exercise indoors, where participants can openly share their needs and ideas, and respond to the needs and ideas of others.



[...Stay tuned for more information on field trips, recreation, lunchtime options and more!]

eeao logo

Register for 2018 Conference
Early Bird ends August 15

Register Here

Our Vision

Resilient communities where environmental, economic and social responsibility drive individual and collective choices

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

Follow Us

Join Our Listserv

add your email and receive monthly updates


Member Login

  •    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.