Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Roles at NAAEE:30 Under 30
Founder and CEO
Create Change Collective
Rae (they/them) is a passionate environmentalist and climate advocate who fosters community-driven change through civic engagement projects centered on environmental education and action!
How are you using education to build more sustainable and equitable communities?
People can’t act on issues they don’t know about. Climate justice, environmental justice, and environmental education are all interconnected and to address them we first need to know more about them. When we identify an issue and learn about it, then we can create solutions for addressing it. This is where education is vital.
I had always seen environmental organizations focused on one main cause for example ocean conservation, fast fashion, etc., but I had yet to run into any organization which showcased all these topics and more. So, one day I decided that I was going to start an organization that focused on interdisciplinary education on all these different environmental topics and their intersectionality with social and climate justice, and before long Create Change Collective was up and running. Each month I launch an awareness campaign around a different environmental topic, from food systems in Canada, fast fashion, ocean health, issues affecting pollinators, and so much more! Each month there are action items, reflections, activity kits, and ways that community members can become involved in addressing the cause or with other organizations that focus on it. This facilitates individual learning and action, as well as community action to make a positive impact.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today.
My love and passion for the environment started when I was just a little kid exploring the forest by my house. I found solace in nature, which drove me to pursue a BSc. in environmental science and my MSc. in physical geography. My curiosity of the natural environment and my love of sharing knowledge is what made me realize that environmental education was the path for me.
Nature has always inspired me, and I have always been fascinated by the ways in which our world works. I found that the more I learned about the environment the more magical it became, how nature could produce so many incredible feats, so calmly, chaotically, and so beautifully. I have had the privilege of being able to travel and see some of the most picturesque landscapes. At times it can be so daunting how small we humans are in comparison to trees, mountains, and rivers. But I also think that there’s something so incredibly wonderful about that.
My path has been challenging. I have spent so much of my academic career questioning what I really want to do, where I want to be, and how I can get there. One constant of my challenging path has remained the same; being outside in nature and exploring the natural world. Looking for every possible opportunity to connect with like-minded folks and to continue to push my own boundaries of what I thought was possible, and somehow it has landed me here, exactly where I am supposed to be doing the things I love.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT ME
What book, film, or art piece has had the greatest impact on you?
The film Anthropocene: The Human Epoch has had the biggest impact on me. It shows the effects that humans have had on the earth so artfully. I spent the entire film crying and in awe of the world. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
What are you happiest doing?
I am happiest when I get to play in the water, whether that be swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or rafting; really anything that gets me on the water I adore!
What (or who) keeps you hopeful for the future?
What keeps me hopeful for the future is the passionate environmentalists and activists I have met and connected with. Seeing their drive, passion, and the difference they’re making in the world is so inspiring!
What advice would you give to the next generation of leaders?
The advice I would give to the next generation of leaders is to not be afraid of failure. So often we limit what we do because we are afraid of failing, we’re afraid to look silly or dumb. That fear minimizes what we do, and it’s only when we accept failure that we are able to push ourselves past our limits and achieve new heights.