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 to around 18,000 students by connecting them to outdoor science experiences each year.

This month, we spoke with Mackenzie about the transformative power of nature, the challenges of scaling impact, and the support network that CAELI provides. We also have new resources, upcoming events from partners, and an invitation to nominate your favorite environmental and outdoor education organization for Organization of the Year.

Getting Off the Concrete: Sacramento Splash Connects Kids to Nature

Sacramento County is one of the many regions across California that provide a rich array of nature, wildlife, and open space. Unfortunately, many children in and around Sacramento County do not have easy access to nature.

The environmental education non-profit, Sacramento Splash, was founded nearly twenty-five years ago to help kids get off the concrete and into the natural world that surrounds them. Since then, the organization has supported 180,000 students. They work to connect around 18,000 students to outdoor science experiences each year.

This month, we spoke with Mackenzie Wieser, the CEO of Sacramento Splash. She shared how collaboration, scale, and the CAELI network has helped her expand field trips that leave lasting positive impacts to students across Sacramento County. CAELI has been especially helpful in finding collaboration in the region and knowledge sharing across the state.

Read more about how collaboration is leading to collective impact in Sacramento here.

Join Our Webinar on School Board Leadership

We are back from break with this month’s District Innovation Hub webinar series. We will explore the role of the school board in helping to establish sustainability and environmental literacy within a school district. Join us as we hear from school board members, superintendents, students and community partners in districts actively working toward whole district sustainability. We will highlight their successes and discuss their challenges. Following the webinar presentation, audience members will have an opportunity to meet and follow up on these topics in more depth. 

Check out our website for more information and register here.


Watch CAELI’s COE’s Meeting: Expanded Learning

In case you missed the December’s County Office of Education Environmental Literacy Community of Practice meeting, we share the video recordings and slides for each meeting on our website to help expand the insights and resources from the CAELI County Office of Education Innovation Hub.

On December 14, CAELI and COEs across the state discussed the key role expanded learning programs can play in providing access to outdoor, environment-based, and environmental literacy-focused learning.

You can always review the meeting slides or watch the meeting recordings on our website here.

Today! January’s COP is happening today at 9am. This morning we will be discussing Community-Based Partner Networks and share a toolkit on how county offices can start, support, or grow networks of community-based partners focused on environmental literacy or sustainability. Register and join.


Nominate Your Favorite Organization

AEOE, in partnership with Ten Strands and the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI), is pleased to offer the 2024 Environmental Education Organization of the Year Award!

This award, given annually, recognizes an outstanding organization that is advancing the impact of environmental and outdoor education in California in a meaningful way by offering innovative programs, following research-based best practices, and promoting equitable access to environmental learning. Nominate an outstanding organization today! Deadline: February 15, 2024. Learn more here.

Last Chance to Share Your Experience!

We are still accepting responses for our first-ever statewide environmental literacy survey. We want to hear directly from educators, principles, and site administrators across TK–12 schools in California so we can best address the needs on the ground. By taking the 15-minute survey, you also have a chance to win one of four $250 prizes. Thank you in advance for your valuable contribution!

Take or share the survey.

Innovation Hub Spotlight

CAELI’s innovation hubs represent a growing community of people dedicated to environmental literacy and outdoor education for youth. Here, we introduce one of our innovation hub members! 

Opportunities, Events, and News

  • AEOE is searching for presenters for workshops at their statewide conference this year. Interested in sharing your knowledge, techniques, and approaches with the community? The conference will be hosted at Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center in Orange County on May 3-5, 2024. Application deadline is February 1, 2024. Learn more and apply to be a workshop presenter here
  • The Ten Strands team is expanding! We are on the lookout for a Partnerships and Technical Assistance Fellow to join in driving environmental and climate action in California’s TK–12 school system. If you or someone you know is interested, apply now.
  • Looking to grow your knowledge to kick off the new year? Sign up for one of these free online workshops from our friends at the Outdoor Learning Store! Tuesdays from 4-5pm Pacific on a range of topics. Door prizes are available and recordings will be sent to all registrants. Learn more and register here.
  • 21CSLA the UC Berkeley Leadership Programs are seeking participants for part four of their Principal Critical Resilience Study to help us understand how school principals cope with challenges and stress. Your responses promise to inform policies and practices. Please add your voice and spread the word here.