Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Environmental Education Outreach Specialist
NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office
2021 EE 30 Under 30 Changemaker Grant Project
Building Leadership Capacity in YEAS Student Ambassadors
The Youth Environmental Action Summit (YEAS) is a community-based program that brings together 150 students each year in a forum to make positive environmental change in their communities. Since its inception, students have been involved in all aspects of the program including planning and design to ensure that it truly supports their interests. This Changemaker Grant will enable YEAS to build new capacities in Ambassadors by more thoroughly incorporating leadership development through a series of professional development opportunities and a student leadership retreat. Additionally, YEAS will put into practice a long-standing interest in compensating students for their meaningful work through stipends.
2019 #WhereAreTheyNow Update
Through the ee360 Fellowship, Elise has engaged new audiences in environmental action projects through support for both mentors and students. Elise is collaborating with Aurelio Giannitti, another ee360 Fellow, on a multi-part project, the overall goals of which are to increase student involvement in the community, advance environmental literacy, foster empowerment, and nurture civic engagement and environmental stewardship. The Youth Environmental Action Summit (YEAS) supports young people in taking action on environmental issues in their own communities. YEAS provides a framework for students to design action projects, present and communicate their ideas, and make real change by implementing their ideas with funding and support from partners. YEAS also trains mentors in methods for authentically supporting youth voice and in exploring local environmental issues. The training sees educators, teachers, and community leaders through a blended (online and in-person) professional learning opportunity focused on facilitating and executing student-driven action projects. Participants who undergo the training mentor student groups in designing action projects that address a specific environmental issue in their community. NOAA datasets and graphic visualizations allow students to situate the issue in an evidence-based context while resources from MAEOE’s School Grounds for Learning provides inspirational fodder for other student-directed initiatives. Students participate in YEAS, modeled after The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Summit, where they learn from other successful youth-led projects and one another, before presenting their project proposals. Top projects are funded for full or partial implementation. In 2019 YEAS supported more than 160 students in developing 34 action projects in three counties and provided more than $12,000 in financial support. Short-term outcomes for this project include integration of environmental and climate topics into formal and informal programming, increased environmental literacy in students, and practice of 21st-century learning skills in local contexts through the development of action projects. Long-term outcomes include implementation of student-action projects and a precedent for the community to embrace the ideas of young leaders.
EE 30 Under 30 Biography
Elise Trelegan is the B-WET (Bay Watershed Education and Training) Program Coordinator for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office. She coordinates a $2.7 million dollar grant program to support environmental literacy throughout the Chesapeake Bay region through both capacity building and direct implementation of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEE). She also supports professional learning opportunities for formal and non-formal educators around NOAA science topics and effective approaches to environmental education. She is interested in the way that online learning and the flipped classroom can complement and enhance traditional environmental education programs. Before her work with NOAA, Elise wore a number of hats, including Interim Executive Director, at a residential environmental education center and field station where she developed a community-based intergenerational program that was a recipient of the UL Innovative Education Award in 2016. An interdisciplinary learner at heart, Elise earned her Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College with a self-built concentration in science communication, photography, and education. She’s currently a masters student at Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership and Global Sustainability. Elise has also been recognized as one of NAAEE's EE 30 Under 30 (2017). In her free time, Elise can be found playing volleyball on Assateague with friends or collecting and identifying insects.
Previous to her work with NOAA, Elise was the Education Director at a residential environmental education center and field station where she developed a community-based intergenerational program that was a recipient of the UL Innovative Education Award in 2016. In addition to her experience in program design and implementation, she enjoys planning and curating unique events and fundraisers that support environmental education. In 2017, she co-organized and founded MARSH Fest, a highly intentional community festival that supports outdoor field experiences for every eighth-grade student on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. An interdisciplinary learner herself, Elise earned her Bachelor of Arts from Hampshire College with a self-built concentration in science communication, photography, and education. Elise has also been recognized as one of NAAEE's 30 Under 30.