Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Amaris Alanis Ribeiro
Roles at NAAEE:ee360 Fellow
North Park Village Nature Center
Amaris Alanis Ribeiro is the Center Director of the North Park Village Nature Center in the Chicago Park District. The North Park Village Nature Center, a public facility with 46 acres of nature preserve, is open 7 days a week and provides year-round programs that serve more than 50,000 yearly visitors. Amaris has over fifteen years of experience in environmental science education, coordinating community engagement strategies, and developing STEM-equity programs at museums, botanic gardens, and nonprofits. Amaris is interested in asset-based approaches in centering communities in environmental education. Amaris currently serves on the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Informal Science Education Committee and the Advisory Board for Environmentalists of Color. Amaris has a BS in Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master’s degree in Science Education from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Amaris is also a past recipient of the Chicago Wilderness Force of Nature Award and under her leadership garnered the UL Innovative Education Award. Amaris considers herself a city girl who always had a passion for nature, in both Chicago and Michoacán, her parents’ hometown in Mexico.
About Amaris’ ee360 Community Action Project
The goal of Amaris’ ee360 Fellowship project is to support reciprocal environmental education (EE), community engagement through timebanking. Amaris’ Timebanking Ecosystem project brings together environmental organizations and community based organizations to support asset-based exchanges. Through this project, exchanges are posted on an online platform via requests and offers in which hours are earned. Offering up space at North Park Village Nature Center to groups not already engaged in EE is a catalyst to broadening who we define as environmentalists and what EE is. Often, environmental organizations frame community engagement efforts that are one-way and designed from a deficit standpoint. This is problematic because it can further widen the equity gap rather than improve it. However, communities have existing EE social capital (e.g. plant knowledge, woodworking skills, land knowledge etc.) that can be illuminated by leveraging the technology we have today through timebanking. Through training and monthly conversations, participants are exposed to the value of timebanking and believe in the possibility of it as a way to equitably engage with communities in EE. Participants exchange offers and requests, community members' needs are met, and organizations and communities shift from dominant cultural norms to resilient and inclusive ecosystem hubs; ultimately changing who and how we solve environmental problems.