Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Roles at NAAEE:30 Under 30
Environmental Education Manager
Parks & People Foundation
Sam is an urban environmental educator living and working in the Charm City - Baltimore, Maryland. He works for the Parks & People Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to uniting Baltimore through parks, where he facilitates meaningful outdoor experiences for youth of all age’s in-school, after-school and in the summer. His work includes guiding Baltimore youth through the one of the largest urban wilderness parks east of the Mississippi—Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. Visits to the park include everything from 2nd graders monitoring freshwater benthic macroinvertebrates (A.K.A. who can catch the biggest crayfish) to high school-aged interns learning the basics of outdoor recreation (e.g. hiking, biking, geocaching, etc.). Much of Sam’s time is dedicated to the young people participating in the BRANCHES program. BRANCHES is a year-round paid internship program for high-school youth where team members work after-school and in the summer to make a positive impact on Baltimore’s green spaces, discover “green careers” and learn the value of teamwork. BRANCHES projects include revitalizing vacant lots into vibrant green spaces, urban forestry as well as gardening for wildlife, stormwater and food. Through all his work, Sam is dedicated to cultivating environments that bring out the best in people with intentional appreciation for community, diversity, respect and equity in the field of environmental education.
While at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources & Environment, Sam’s studies revolved around the relationship between cognition and the environment – how environments effect our ability to function. Environmental justice, in combination with the positive association between nature and human well-being, led Sam to his career in Baltimore. Sam uses this background as lens from which to view environmental education in Baltimore City and is constantly taken aback by the ability for life (both human and non-human) to thrive in extreme environments.
Sam is a believer in equitable, thermodynamically efficient, self-powered mobility (you’ll see him riding around Baltimore on his bike), and enjoys film, street art, and, of course, all things natural (fungus, bugs, birds, bees, salt marshes and trees in particular)! Hailing from Bowers Beach, Delaware, Sam first taught about the biology of the oyster, ecology of wetlands, and 1930s sailing techniques on a restored 1928 oyster schooner, A.J. Meerwald; serving as an environmental education living classroom for Delaware Bay residents. Although a true Delawarean at heart, Sam now finds serenity in connecting to the people and places of his adopted home – Baltimore City.