The California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI), led by Ten Strands, works statewide with guidance from a leadership council to create systems change in support of environmental literacy with a focus on access, equity, and cultural relevance for all students.

CAELI's stories

May 9, 2024 Newsletter

As the natural landscape around us blooms, so do the many graduates celebrating this graduation season. In May, we celebrate the CAELI COE Fellowship Graduates, and the many incredible California schools and leaders being recognized for their commitments to environmental literacy and sustainability. Finally, we are sharing the final topics and registration links that are finishing out … READ MORE

Green Horizons: Celebrating the Second COE Fellowship Cohort Graduation

We are thrilled to announce the successful completion of the second CAELI COE Fellowship cohort, comprising fourteen fellows from six county offices of education. This year marks another milestone in the journey of CAELI’s County Office of Education Innovation Hub to establish an environmental literacy coordinator in all fifty-eight county offices of education. At this … READ MORE

April 11, 2024 Newsletter

As April turns the world’s focus to climate, we are reminded how climate change is tied to climate justice. STEM4Real is taking a leadership role by revolutionizing STEM education and bridging the equity gap in environmental learning. Leena Bakshi and Tashanda Giles-Jones share their journey, emphasizing the importance of representation, challenges in diversity, equity, and … READ MORE

Championing DEI in Environmental Learning with STEM4Real

As our planet has warmed and new technologies are needed to combat human-made climate change, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has become more intertwined with environmental learning. This interdisciplinary learning approach focuses on critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration, which are critical to expanding new and old technologies to help in the climate fight … READ MORE

March 14, 2024 Newsletter

As we transition from winter to spring we know that many folks across the state have been impacted by extremely wet and snowy weather, and many viruses and sicknesses. Despite all these challenges, our CAELI community has been busy with activities and making progress on a variety of projects and initiatives! In our March update, … READ MORE

CAELI March Update: Our Innovation Hub Projects are Thriving!

As we edge closer to the final quarter of the 2023-24 school year, we’re thrilled to bring you a quick update on the many Innovation Hub projects.  First, we had fun at the CAELI COE Innovation Hub meet-up during the annual CISC Leadership Symposium. It was a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas and insights with … READ MORE

February 8, 2024 Newsletter

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that CAELI’s focus on equity was not always inevitable. In 2015, the Blueprint for Environmental Literacy Task Force recognized the need to understand how best to integrate equity. The resulting Theory of Action emphasized inclusivity and fairness in scaling up environmental literacy for all students and led to … READ MORE

Designing for the Margins | Reflecting on CAELI’s Equity Journey

Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that CAELI’s focus on equity was not always inevitable. When CAELI emerged as a statewide project rooted in a 2015 Blueprint for Environmental Literacy, equity was not a core tenet. In a recent interview, Candice Dickens-Russell, currently the CEO of Friends of the Los Angeles River, reflected on … READ MORE

January 11, 2024 Newsletter

What was a formative memory of nature when you were a child? A camping road trip to Bodie, California with her great aunt and uncle was all it took for Mackenzie Wieser, CEO of Sacramento Splash, to know the transformative power of nature. She now leads an organization that works to bring those formative experiences … READ MORE

Getting Off the Concrete: Sacramento Splash Connects Kids to Nature

What was your formative memory of nature when you were a child? For Mackenzie Wieser, CEO of Sacramento Splash, a camping road trip to Bodie, California with her great aunt and uncle was all it took for her to know the transformative power of nature. “I remember being in a tent and enjoying exploring as … READ MORE

December 14, 2023 Newsletter

If you can believe it, we are already halfway through the school year. Teachers and administrators will soon have a much-needed winter break. We hope everyone has a nourishing holiday! The holidays are usually a time of reflection and we have much to take stock of. CAELI has been hard at work in the first … READ MORE

Scaling Our Work | An Update on CAELI’s Working Groups

The 2023-24 CAELI season got off to a strong start with the first annual CAELI Executive Committee coming together in June 2023 to connect around our shared sense of purpose and to assess and further evolve CAELI’s collective action model. The retreat also marked the change in leadership between former co-chair Craig Strang and new … READ MORE

Announcing Our First Statewide School Survey

What is your experience with environmental-based learning? Does your school have a garden where your students can feel the touch of the dirt and watch the life cycle of living things in real-time? Have you organized school trips that shifted how students view the world around them? Is your school using sustainable resources to electrify … READ MORE

November 9, 2023 Newsletter

The good news? A  growing number of school districts across California are developing environmental literacy plans to ensure that every student has access.  Even better news! Leaders in many districts are moving toward a whole systems approach by including a wider range of partners and perspectives in the transformation process. This month, we share reflections … READ MORE

Awards, Meet-Ups & Solidarity for CAELI’s District Innovation Hub

There is good news! A  growing number of school districts from every corner and context in California are developing environmental literacy and sustainability plans to ensure that every student has access to high-quality environment-based learning and climate-ready school campuses.  Even better news, leaders in many districts are moving toward a whole systems approach by including … READ MORE

October 12, 2023 Newsletter

Nestled in the southernmost region of California, Imperial County holds a place of honor in the history of environmental justice as the site where legendary leader Cesar Chavez rallied the local community against injustice, leaving an indelible mark on the region’s social fabric. Yet today, Imperial County continues to be a center of adversity as … READ MORE

Justice and Education Converge in Imperial County: Comite Civico Del Valle Takes the Lead Toward Change

People living in Imperial County have some of the highest rates of asthma in the country, and airborne pollutants from the nearby Salton Sea are a big part of the problem. The majority-Hispanic agricultural community, which already contends with low-paid farm labor, low adult education levels, and high unemployment, also must deal with the externalities … READ MORE

September 13, 2023 Newsletter

In this month’s newsletter, we spoke with Diego Ortiz, environmental education program manager at The Nature Conservancy’s Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. Referred to as “the last perfect place in California,” the preserve is one of the last places along the California coast that hasn’t been disrupted by commercial development. Now, The Nature Conservancy is … READ MORE

The Nature Conservancy Launches a Wild Classroom at the Dangermond Preserve

Students visiting the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve embark on a transformative journey as they experience one of the last places along the California coast that hasn’t been disrupted by commercial development. Along the way, they are greeted by the watchful eye of an osprey soaring overhead, a sentinel of this untouched wilderness. In 2017, … READ MORE

August 10, 2023 Newsletter

In this month’s newsletter, we spoke with Marie Bobias, director of environmental education at Walden West Outdoor School & Summer Camp in Santa Clara County. This renowned summer camp is on a mission to provide equitable access to the wonders of science and nature for emerging leaders of tomorrow. By fostering collaboration among peers, the … READ MORE

July 13, 2023 Newsletter

As we strive to bring environmental literacy to all of California’s public school students, we recognize that the key lies in equipping educators and administrators with the tools and understanding they need to graduate climate and environmentally literate students. Through CAELI’s network, advocates from across the state are connecting, collaborating, and pooling their expertise to … READ MORE

A Renewed Perspective for Environmental Literacy: A Q&A With Estrella Risinger & Juanita Chan-Roden

Change and transition are integral parts of growth and progress, offering initiatives an opportunity to welcome fresh ideas, perspectives, and innovation. For CAELI, change is a catalyst for renewed purpose and additional impact. In the wake of a recent executive committee retreat, the newly elected co-chair, Estrella Risinger (she/her), and current co-chair Juanita Chan-Roden (she/her), … READ MORE

CAELI Thanks Departing Co-Chair, Craig Strang & Words of Reflection

Craig Strang, lifelong environmental educator and activist, is stepping down as CAELI’s co-chair after nearly eight years of service. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Craig for his exceptional leadership, visionary thinking, unwavering dedication, and remarkable contributions to CAELI. Although he will be stepping down as co-chair at the end of June 2023, Craig will … READ MORE

June 8, 2023 Newsletter

With over 100,000 schools in the U.S. occupying a total of 2 million acres of land, the education sector represents one of the largest public infrastructures in the U.S. However, for the young people who stand to inherit the mantle of the future, schools are under-equipped to protect and prepare them for our climate reality. … READ MORE

California Green Ribbon Schools Award, an Attainable and Worthy Endeavor

The California Green Ribbon Schools Award Program (CA-GRS) recognizes schools and districts making sustainability improvements and acts as a guide to drive meaningful actions to improve school districts’ environmental impact. In this article, California Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools program lead, George Garcia, along with educators—and CAELI members—from CA-GRS schools and districts, celebrate the … READ MORE

May 11, 2023 Newsletter

This winter and spring, California experienced record snowpack and rains, alleviating the most severe signs of drought in many parts of the state. However, even as California’s famed flower blooms return, the state’s reservoirs remain depleted, and water shortages are expected to continue. As California looks for better water management solutions, we see an opportunity … READ MORE

April 13, 2023 Newsletter

Earth Month is a good time to consider and celebrate how schools can contribute to creating a more sustainable future. One tangible example is through school gardens, which offer countless benefits for students and the environment. This month, we had the opportunity to speak with Doug Henderson, director of STEAM at Val Verde Unified School … READ MORE

March 9, 2023 Newsletter

Climate change is driving unprecedented heat, drought, wildfire, and flooding in California, affecting students’ health, education, and future prospects. In the 2018-2019 school year alone, over 1.25 million California students missed school due to wildfires or other extreme weather. Furthermore, climate change exacerbates inequality, as marginalized communities, including low-income families and people of color, are … READ MORE

Feb. 9, 2023 Newsletter

February marks the beginning of Black History Month, giving us an opportunity to recommit to our efforts to address inequities in California’s public education system. In the United States, Black students have endured a long history of injustice due to policies that can still be felt today. Although we still have a long way to … READ MORE

Jan. 12, 2023 Newsletter

With new leadership and a revised Blueprint for Change, we are rallying in the new year with a renewed focus on expanding environmental literacy to all of California’s 5.8 million public school students. To start, CAELI project director Andra Yeghoian reflects on her hopes for 2023 and how recent changes and initiatives from CAELI leadership … READ MORE

Dec. 8, 2022 Newsletter

The first half of the 2022-2023 seasons has been inspiring as our CAELI community continues to grow with new members and with our success in advancing environmental literacy to school communities across the state. We look forward to returning in 2023 with a renewed sense of purpose in our mission and hope you take this … READ MORE

CAELI District Innovation Hub Coordinates Networking and Learning at the California Green Schools Summit

The recent convergence of multiple societal crises has highlighted stark inequities in our institutions. Social impact and equity are no longer on the sidelines of public discourse. This October, the CAELI District Innovation Hub saw the culmination and success of months of efforts from one of their working groups at the Green California Schools and … READ MORE