Message from the Executive Director March 21, 2016




Message from the Executive Director

​If we teach today, as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.
—John Dewey

The problem with quotes on the Internet is you can never be certain they're authentic.
—Abraham Lincoln

Dear Members and Supporters:

Last month, I was very lucky to travel to Cuba as a partner of the Kettering Foundation on their work with the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity. We were there for a conference focused on Active Citizenship for a Sustainable Economy. The Foundation is working in Cuba to advance sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and geo-historic research, among other initiatives. And it was great to talk about environmental education, civic engagement, and linking these two initiatives to a more sustainable economy.

As many of you know, NAAEE is working with the amazing team at Kettering, Michele Archie, Bora Simmons, as well as a stellar advisory group, to create a series of environmental issues forums that promote deliberation and strengthen the democratic process and civic engagement. Many of our Affiliates and other partners are part of the process to develop guides on complex environmental issues, train moderators, and launch forums across the country to help people understand the trade-offs associated with solutions to any “wicked” problem, such as climate change, water issues, or energy choices. We’re exploring how people work through conflicts over what is most valuable to them in the places where they live, work, and worship. The Kettering Foundation has found that when people do not recognize and work through conflicts, conversations become polarized as different groups advocate for different solutions. People talk past each other rather than working together on a shared solution.

We’ve created an issue guide on climate change, which is now available online. The guide helps people identify tensions among the different things they hold valuable, and understand how conversation can help them reach common ground. If you are interested in conducting forums and becoming trained to be a moderator, please visit We will also be offering moderator training at our annual conference in Madison, Wisconsin, and we hope some of our Cuban colleagues will join us in October. We have so much to learn from the civic engagement community, and hope that we can share lessons about how to increase public deliberation, strengthen democratic practice, and create a more environmentally literate and civically engaged society.

Get Engaged with eePRO

We’re also excited about our new website and eePRO. It has definitely taken a village of EE professionals to help launch the new site. Thanks to all of you who have taken part in pilots, responded to surveys, stepped up to be a moderator or co-moderator of an eePRO group, participated in webinars, written blogs, updated your personal profiles, and uploaded resources, events, and opportunities. We’ve had terrific feedback about the site, including that the search engine makes it much easier to find what you’re looking for. However, we're still fixing bugs and adding new features, and appreciate any feedback that you have as we move forward. And a big thank you to Bill Finnegan, from Tamarack Media, who built the site and continues to work with us to add new features; Mary Ocwieja, our Technology and Membership Manager, who has been absolutely fabulous; our incredible designers, Steve and Sylvia Weir; and all the other members of the team who are providing ongoing support. For a list of our wonderful eePRO moderators, please go to “About Us” and click “Our Team,” or visit the eePRO group page.

We hope you will sign up for a group and take part in discussions, check out the learning opportunities, and upload photos and information to your profile. You can sign up to receive emails that summarize the posts and resources that have been uploaded to your areas of interest. We also encourage you to sign up for our monthly webinars, which are bringing new ideas and thinking to our collective work. Marc Stern just gave a wonderful presentation on Trust and Public Participation and you can watch the webinar recording here. Our next webinar features Dr. David Orr, who will be talking about systems thinking. The webinar is tomorrow, March 22 at 3:00 PM EST—and there are still a few slots open. For more information on David's webinar and the webinar series, please see And please let us know about other topics you’re interested in learning about through the webinar series.

Submit a Proposal for Madison NOW!

​​The March 31 deadline is fast approaching, but you still have time to submit a proposal for the Conference and the Research Symposium. I’m linking the Call for Presentations here, and hope that you will respond—and forward it to your colleagues. We’re also searching for scholarship funding so that we can help bring more people to the conference who would otherwise not be able to attend. We have some fantastic sessions in the works—and it’s shaping up to be an incredible gathering. We also hope to host another international gathering of the GEEP (the Global Environmental Education Partnership), which will add to the networking opportunities for all of us.

I’m so energized by the stories I hear about the good work of our members and supporters—and between now and the conference, we will be highlighting stories of inspiration and impact—the theme of this year’s conference.

Your contributions, insights, and support help fuel the work of so many individuals and organizations like the Antonio Núñez Foundation in Cuba. We have so much to learn from each other, and we hope to see you on the web and in Madison! And let us know if you have any inspiring stories you’d like us to share. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you!

Judy Braus
NAAEE Executive Director

Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time.
—Chinese proverb

Buying the right computer and getting it to work properly is no more complicated than building a nuclear reactor from wristwatch parts in a darkened room using only your teeth.
—Dave Barry