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Teaching Environmental Science with Social Justice at the Center

Science gives us critical clues to understanding the complex web of the natural world, how it works, and how we can embrace our role in it. That’s why Dr. Suzanne Pierre, a member of CAELI’s leadership council and environmental science educator at San Francisco’s Exploratorium Teacher Institute, believes curiosity and connection are the basis for understanding and action, especially on climate issues. In this Q&A, Sue shares her background as a microbial ecology researcher and woman of color, and how that informs her work to support teachers as they incorporate hands-on, inquiry-rich experiences into their classrooms.

The Green Return to School: California Administrators Find a New Lens for Teaching Environmental Literacy

The new school year is approaching, and educators are having to adapt to a new educational reality amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As California administrators think outside the box with new solutions to keep environmental literacy at the forefront as students return to school, outdoor education is emerging as an opportunity to pair social distancing with the benefits of giving students access to nature and equitable educational opportunities.

California Youth Lead the Movement for Environmental Action

Across California, young people are making change happen in their communities, and leading the way on environmental action. We interviewed four student leaders in Alameda, Orange, and Santa Cruz Counties who are transforming their communities by cultivating native gardens, teaching sustainable household practices, organizing climate conferences, and more. Hear their thoughts on environmental literacy, engaging young people, social justice, and what we all can do to help create a better tomorrow.

Aniya Butler: Leading Youth Activism for Environmental Justice

Aniya Butler is a student who works with Youth Vs. Apocalypse. This climate activism group brings together young people in the Bay Area to uplift the voices of people of color and to stand up for environmental justice. As a volunteer, Aniya helps to mobilize her peers and organize climate strikes—the most recent having drawn tens of thousands of people in support. We spoke with Aniya about intersectionality in the environmental movement, the importance of educating youth about climate change, and more.

Azucena Nieto: Remembering Our Connection to the Natural World

Azucena Nieto is a youth artist and activist working with the Youth for Environmental Action (YEA) group in Santa Cruz County. Her powerful creative writing pieces represent the interconnectedness of nature and our responsibility to carry on the intergenerational fight for environmental conservation.

Seth Whiteaker: Bringing Students Together for a Green Campus

Seth Whiteaker is a student whose lifelong experiences in nature have fostered a love for native gardening. After founding a Gardening Club at his school, he’s organized a coalition of other student groups to promote sustainability on campus. We spoke with Seth about the role of community in environmental action, the importance of education in promoting student leadership, and the interconnectedness of social and environmental issues.

Rowyn Cook: Living Her Love of Nature

Rowyn Cook is a student who works with the Youth Environmental Action Group to promote sustainability ideas on social media and organize a climate conference. We spoke with Rowyn about her experiences doing environmental outreach through events and social media, and the power of action and representation.