Connecting Nature, Arts, Spirit and Science

Connecting Outdoor School and EE with Arts & Creative Writing

Tess Malijenovsky croppedTess 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.

Tess Malijenovsky manages Honoring Our Rivers (HOR), a statewide project nurturing the next generation of conservation and civic leaders by engaging the creative capacities of our youth. HOR publishes student artwork and creative writing inspired by rivers and watersheds in an annual anthology publication, hosts student gallery exhibitions and readings, and supports outdoor schools and teachers in including more of the arts in environmental education. Honoring Our Rivers is a project of the environmental nonprofit, Willamette Partnership, which is working to make conservation and restoration happen on larger scales, faster, and more effectively to create benefits for people and nature.


An Experiential Introduction to Sharing Nature Activities

Roy Simpson croppedRoy 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.

Roy Simpson worked as a Park Ranger, Environmental Educator and Interpreter for over 30 years. A dedicated Banana Slug from UC Santa Cruz, he created education programs and authored curriculum with the BLM at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, the National Park Service at Tumacacori National Historical Park and Chiricahua National Monument, and the USFS at Stanislaus National Forest. A two-time Peace Corps Volunteer (Niger, Africa and Honduras, Central America); he worked as an international Environmental Education consultant in Ecuador, Panama and Mexico. Retired in 2014, he now consults and works as a trainer with Joseph Cornell and the Sharing Nature Foundation.


Establishing Connections In Environmental Science By Engaging Learners And Integrating Relevance, Responsibility, and Resilience

Valerie Stephan LeBoeuf cropped

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.

Valerie Stephan-Leboeuf began her work as a zookeeper and spent ten years as a wildlife rehabilitator. Focusing on humane and sustainable solutions to environmental issues, she was the program manager for a population control and conflict resolution program for beavers residing in a large urban area and improved native fish habitat by relocating beaver groups into areas needing restoration. She continues to advocate for wildlife and habitat preservation, which includes her work as an educator and presenter for The Animals’ Trust and as a facilitator for human-wildlife conflict resolution. She has presented at professional conferences in the United States, Canada, and Greece, and has a M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Environmental Education, and a M.S. Environmental Science. She is currently pursuing pre-doctoral studies in Environmental Science with the University of Idaho, USA, focusing on human-marine mammal conflict resolution and the human dynamics of restoration efforts for sea otter along the Oregon Coast.


From Hopelessness to Love: Countering Narratives of a Dystopian Future

Lauriel Amaroso croppedLauriel 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.

Lauriel Amoroso holds a B.A. in Environmental and Cultural Studies from the Evergreen State College and a Master’s in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College. She also earned a graduate certificate in Environmental Education from the University of Idaho and a Master’s degree in Sustainability Education from Portland State University and is working towards a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Portland State University. As an elementary and middle school teacher, she uses inquiry and exploration to spark curiosity and she loves helping people of all ages connect to nature through exploration, journaling, making art, and learning to carefully observe the world.


Using Primitive Skills to Teach About the Natural World (2 session options available)

Teri Lysak croppedTeri Lysak, Cascadia Wild
Saturday, September 29, 9:15-10:45am
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.

Teri Lysak teaches animal tracking, wild plant foraging, and primitive skills, and works for the nonprofit Cascadia Wild running a community science project called the Wolverine Tracking Project that trains and organizes volunteers to carry out carnivore surveys on Mt Hood. Prior to this, she worked as a forester for the Washington Dept of Natural Resources and the US Forest Service and holds a MS in Forest Ecology from Oregon State University.

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


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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.