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2020 Distinguished Contribution Award Winners: Ten Strands and CAELI!

Karen Cowe, Ten Strands CEO and California Environmental Literacy Initiative project director, discusses her work to uplift environmental literacy in this interview with California Association of Science Educators (CASE). This article originally appeared on the CASE website and was republished with permission.

A Silent Service: Why Water Workers Support Environmental Literacy and Career Technical Education

Water is a vital natural resource that shapes the development of California’s environmental, social, and economic landscape. Despite this, the essential workers that maintain California’s water supply are often overlooked. As a member of the California Environmental Literacy Initiative’s (CAELI) Leadership Council, Public Affairs Manager at the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), and leader of the Water Energy Education Alliance (WEEA), Tiffany Baca is working to change that. In this Q&A, Tiffany shares how environmental literacy frames her work at MWDOC, an agency that provides more than 3.2 million California residents with water-saving resources, water-centric education, sustainability programs, and clean drinking water.

How Global Education and Environmental Literacy Empower Students as Citizens of the World

Global education and environmental literacy go hand-in-hand when helping students connect with the world around them. As the executive director of the California Global Education Project (CGEP), Dr. Emily Schell works every day to help teachers deliver timely and impactful lessons as they relate to the current issues affecting our world. In this Q&A, Dr. Schell shares how global education and environmental literacy work together, why there’s a need to support teachers in this work, and how she applies this expertise as a co-chair of CAELI’s leadership council.

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.