Last week, I was lucky to join a meeting, organized by Dr. Bill Scott, that brought together educators throughout the UK to focus on how environmental education can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. While there, I visited Winston Churchill’s birthplace and had the chance to reflect on how he maintained unrelenting optimism and perseverance in spite of incredible challenges.
As we close out 2017, it’s a great time to reflect on the progress we’ve made this year and think with optimism about 2018 and beyond. Take a few minutes and think about the positive things that happened this year as a result of the work you did—the things that shined through and made you feel that rush of excitement when you know you had an impact. Education can truly change lives and improve society. It can bring hope and inspiration and empower those who need a boost. It can optimize human potential and open doors to unchartered adventures. It can motivate people of all ages to see their role in the world and take action to create healthier communities. It can also lead to creativity, a love of learning, new
insights, and more reflection. And it can build the leaders of the future who know that without a healthy environment we won’t have a healthy anything!
When I think back over the year, I recall so many inspirational bright spots that gave me hope. You helped us turn around the deep disappointment of canceling our conference into an opportunity to support our partners in Puerto Rico, who have been in dire need of relief. Your compassion shined through! I was blown away by the creativity and passion of our 30 Under 30 young leaders working in all aspects of education, conservation, and environment, already stepping up to be the conductors of our future. I was excited to see
ee360 take off, reaching thousands with training, resources, and research, and that eePRO continued to promote sharing, learning, and discussion—connecting people from across the field working with shared passion toward common goals. I was excited about the GEEP Call for Action—a collaboration with our international colleagues asking environmental educators everywhere to think about our agenda for the next decade. And I loved seeing the work so many of you are doing to help link research and practice and demonstrate the value and impact of EE through our programs, such as eeWORKS and our partnership with the Children & Nature Network to create a research library for the field. I was also thrilled that so many early childhood educators connected at our Nature Preschool Conference, which highlighted the importance of education and nature in the lives of our earliest learners. And I could go on and on—from our partnership with UL to advance E-STEM, our work with Cal Water to reach educators about water conservation, our civic engagement work with the Kettering Foundation, and our celebration of
accomplishments in the past 40 years.
I've also learned so much from wonderful interactions with our staff, board, members, friends, volunteers, and supporters. And what an honor it is to work with our Affiliate Network of EE leaders across the country, who are strategizing with NAAEE about how we can work together to create more systemic change. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I have in this position to work with all of you!
Click here to hear from some of your colleagues about why EE matters to them (and feel free to share with your networks), and please share your own stories on Facebook and Twitter using #EEmatters. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
On behalf of everyone at NAAEE, happy holidays and thank you for all the work you do. And remember to take some time as we complete another trip around the sun to reflect on your accomplishments and be heartened by all the good work that is taking place in every nook and cranny of the universe. What you do truly matters!
We look forward to working with all of you in 2018 to accomplish great things! And no matter how big the challenge, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.”
Please consider an end-of-the-year donation to support NAAEE. Your tax-deductible gift will give a boost to our collective efforts to create a more sustainable and just future through the power of education.
NAAEE Executive Director
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes