CEE Change Fellow Vanessa Barela holding a small insect in her hands outside
  • Vanessa Barela (she/her)

    Outdoor Learning Specialist, Environmental Education New Mexico (EENM)
  • CEE-Change Fellow
  • 2023
United States

Vanessa is an outdoor educator who works to promote equity for students by providing high-quality outdoor educational experiences. 

About Vanessa Barela

Vanessa (she/her) was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where her love for nature was first ignited by her family. As a child, she spent much of her time in the wilderness fishing, camping, and hiking. She has been an educator since 2008 with experience teaching students from preschool through college age as a formal and informal educator in various positions focused on science and the environment. Her education includes degrees in Technical Writing, Environmental Engineering, Geology for Science Teachers, and a master's in Curriculum and Instruction in Science. Vanessa has worked at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Sandia Mountain Natural History Center, Cottonwood Montessori School, and currently is an Outdoor Learning Specialist at the New Mexico Public Education Department. She has previously served as the Secretary for Environmental Education New Mexico and currently volunteers as a leader with Latino Outdoors

Vanessa’s Community Action Project (CAP)

In New Mexico, we often experience climate change issues with an intersection of water scarcity, farming, and community impact. This project will support rural communities and the impact on the economy, student outcomes, and engagement in relation to agriculture. It will bridge the gap between environmental education and agriculture. Students will participate in a community of practice called the "Eco-Squad," where they can foster a sense of responsibility and leadership to become climate champions, especially with water.