The hub for environmental education professional development

Your path and experiences

I would love to find a position that lets me be out from behind a desk (at least a good portion of the time) AND make a decent living, which has proven difficult. I've been doing outdoor education and love it, but the low pay isn't sustainable. Moving up, as far as I can tell, means moving behind a desk, which I tried and hated. I'm considering a switch to environmental education, which requires more specialization and so hopefully is a more sustainable path. I'd love to hear any thoughts.


I agree with what you are saying about not wanting to work behind a desk, I have done that before and hated every minute of it. I feel inspired and alive when I am using my body and engaging with others. It is a struggle to find jobs that pay a decent wage and allow you to do what you love. This is why I am looking to start my own business once I finish my PhD program. I think that being in environmental education could give you some freedom and not stuck sitting in one place, depending on what school you get a job with and if their values are similar to yours. Schools focused on science and math could be good because a lot of hands on and experiential learning is encouraged, getting out of the class room is common.

I want to start a restaurant and farm in the area that I live in. I think that having a restaurant directly connected to a farm would be a great way to provide fresh foods and a way to get people engaged with the earth. My idea is to have a restaurant but also an educational aspect if people want to learn how to grow food or how to cook meals.


It's a year after your post and I'm not sure if you have made any choices yet, so I wanted to share my experiences with you:

I majored in biology because I grew up outdoors with some great environmental experiences in the 1970's in South Florida and I grew into a commitment to saving/restoring the environment. When I was an undergraduate, there were no environmental science courses at my institution, so I took geography, anthropology, and marine science courses to supplement my biology. I worked for several seasons as an Interpretive Park Ranger with the National Park Service and one of my best friends kept at it until he got a full-time position. His entire 20+ year career in the NPS has allowed him to get up from behind his desk to offer inspiring environmental education programming to many different audiences.

Meanwhile, after returning to universities for Masters degrees in biology and in education, I have worked as an environmental educator at parks on city, county, and state levels, and if it wasn't for a move for my husband's work at the height of the 2008-2009 economic collapse, I feel that a park job could have offered me a long-term sustainable career at the state level (but it depends on which state you are in and your flexibility to move). I am not sure if you have worked in a park system as an outdoor educator, but I think that adding environmental education certification through the NAAEE or your state affiliate would help you gain skills and offer you experiences to try out environmental education. I am taking the Arizona Association of Environmental Education's Environmental Educator Basic Certification Program now. Good luck!

Hi Julie. I made a career change in 2011 from business to secondary education. It took awhile to adjust from corporate work to the educational field. There have been many times, and I still do, desire some field work outside of my classroom. I have been fortunate to take part in 2 week mission trips to Chile and Sierra Leonne that allowed me to connect with new environments and people groups. At this time in my life I need to be in the classroom. I am actively pursuing opportunities for professional and personal development. One of them is a certification in environmental education and I am considering going back to school for my PhD. I am not sure where all of my experiences will lead me in the future but I am confident that all of my experiences will prepare me for adventures and learning that await me when I am ready to leave the classroom and pursue the next job on my resume. Till then, I will keep learning and exploring.

Hi Julie-
I too am a secondary teacher, so I am not exactly behind a desk all day, but I am mostly in a classroom. I have been teaching for 10 years and for just as long have run an after school ecology club that allows me to create more EE experiences through planting crops in the school greenhouse and other ecology related projects. I would like to gradually make these EE experiences my full time job and can relate to the sentiments in your letter. As an educator who teaches mostly in the traditional classroom setting, I can say that the field of EE does seem to keep expanding year after year, There are great jobs out there and so I wish you luck in your search!