Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Roles at NAAEE:30 Under 30
Black by Nature
Diamonique is a self-proclaimed "adventure naturalist" on a mission to elevate Black joy and environmental literacy through naturalist training, outdoor programs, and science storytelling.
How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities?
I am using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities by creating naturalist training courses for Black residents in Baltimore. In 2020, I founded Black by Nature, a nonprofit organization to elevate Black joy and environmental literacy through outdoor programs and science storytelling. In our first season, we offered a 9-week naturalist training course and by the end of the course, all participants were certified as Maryland Master Naturalists—the first all-Black cohort of Master Naturalists in Maryland. I believe that centering the culture and values of my people while facilitating programs is essential for the information to be received, shared, and sustained in the community. I think the impact of my EE work can be best expressed through the words of one naturalist, “Being here, felt like home. I felt no pressure to ‘perform’ and this aided in my ability to engage in mindfulness, reflection, and healing. I felt at ease, with the focus being on learning how to access information as opposed to filling my head with loads of information.”
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
My journey with nature began as a child. I’ve always had a natural inclination to investigate the spaces I had access to, but it wasn’t until college that anyone ever told me that I could make a career of it. I loved every bit of my college experience. As an environmental science student, I took advantage of every opportunity to participate in research, travel, and internships. However, as soon as I graduated, I felt cut off from opportunities that allowed me to continue exploring. Through my work with non-profit, government, and academic institutions, I had some success in program development and engaging with historically excluded communities. However, it wasn’t until founding Black by Nature that I was able to create a space I could meaningfully foster joy, community, and wonder for myself and others in nature. My career journey has evolved as I have. As I have worked to align myself with the people, places, and things that feel good, my career has followed suit.
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
My advice for the next generation of leaders is to use every opportunity to refine your next step.
Who keeps you hopeful for the future?
My naturalist trainees keep me hopeful because of the ways they’ve been able to keep up their naturalist practices without me.
Who do you look up to as inspiration?
I look inward for inspiration and trust the dreams that I find there.