The contributions freelance informal educators make to lifelong learning | NAAEE

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The contributions freelance informal educators make to lifelong learning

Dear eePRO Community,

I am working on a project to better understand the contributions freelance informal educators make to lifelong learning in communities. I would like to share this project with you and ask that you share this information with anyone who may be interested.

I have chosen to focus specifically on the contributions of freelance informal educators who address plants, nature, and related topics in their work. The focus is on *freelance* informal educators in particular because they are not bound to one location and have the opportunity to create change in many different settings.

For the past 15 years, I have worked to encourage an interest in plants and nature through art, science, and interpretation as the full-time educator, editor, and bookseller at ArtPlantae. Over the years I have met many passionate, independent professionals who strive to connect people with nature through their work. I have often wondered how many other professionals like them (and me) are out there in the world. I have also wondered how each educator contributes to the public’s understanding of nature. In order to address the questions I have, I have launched a survey for freelance informal educators.

Who are freelance informal educators?
What do they do?
Where do they work?
How do they lead?
What do they need to be better leaders?

These are some of the questions I seek to answer.

If you are a freelance informal educator who addresses plants, nature, and related topics in your work, please consider sharing your story. You can learn more about this project at

If you are not a freelance educator but know of freelance educators who may be interested in the survey, please share the project link above.

Lastly, if you know of related studies I would love to learn more about them. Thank you for your time, insight, and feedback.

Tania Marien

Hi there, Tania!

I think this is a great study as I consider myself a freelance informal Environmental Educator. My focus is sustainability, so I am not sure if you're necessarily looking for my input. However, I will say that one of the challenges of this position is finding people who are willing to collaborate with individuals who are freelance Environmental Educators. This includes people in the general community, people in academia, business owners, and more established Environmental Educators who are not freelancers. Often times, I feel that it's harder to earn the trust and respect of others as a freelance Environmental Educator. It often feels like I am an island, especially since I am just getting started in EE.

Best of luck in your study!


Hi Stojanka,

Thank you for your message. I am *absolutely* looking for the kind of input you have to offer. I have had the same experiences you describe. Experiences such as these are some of the reasons why I am reaching out to have conversations with independent professionals working in environmental education. I hope you reconsider and complete the survey. Your story is important.

Dear All,

I have begun Phase II of my project.

Phase I of this investigation ran March-April 2018. The second phase launched this month with my roundtable discussion about this project at the NAAEE conference in Spokane. Phase II of this project includes the first steps to understanding the diversity of freelance educators working in natural resource fields and environmental education.

Are you a freelance educator working in informal learning environments whose work connects people with plants, nature, and related topics?

Please consider sharing your story at:

Information about this project can be viewed at

This is the first time I have come across the title of "freelance informal educator" and I am fascinated by the idea and your project. I have a background in project-based education, and when my team would develop a project we always sought out these experts to come work with students. We've had biologists, geologists, business owners, forest service representatives, artists, novelists etc come in to work with students on their projects. I found their input and participation to be one of the most beneficial aspects of the project since it placed the work they were doing in a context that was more tangible for them.

I am still in contact with some of these freelance educators, and will send them your survey link. I am also working on a project exploring generational communities and their role in community based design projects, and have become curious about the contributions and roles of freelance informal educators in some of these projects and community.



Thank you for your message and for sharing the survey with your freelance colleagues. I appreciate your help.

Your project is very interesting and I would love to learn what you find out. Your project made me think of a program launched by the botanical garden in Leiden that resulted in successful multigenerational learning in botanical art. I wrote an article about this project a few years ago for my education blog. If you're interested, here is the link:

Thank you for your message. I look forward to following your project.