Rhode Island Environmental
Education Association

Meet Sara Sweetman, PhD., one of RIEEA’s new board members of 2024!

Sara is an Associate Professor of Education in the College of Education and Professional Studies at the University of Rhode Island (URI), and directs the Guiding Education in Math and Science Network (GEMS-Net), a school-university partnership focused continual improvement in STEM teaching and learning. Beginning this fall, Sara will lead the new Environmental Education degree program at URI.

Additionally, she advises for a variety of children’s media development and productions, including the CBP-PBS Ready to Learn Initiative, Sesame Street, Molly of Denali, and the Too Small to Fail Campaign. She enjoys sharing her passion for learning about human-made and natural environments and empowering people to embrace science for the betterment of their lives.



What’s your favorite outdoor place in Rhode Island, and why? 

The mouth of the Narrow River (in the edge of summer season). The complexity of the moving water from river flow, wind, tides, and waves makes every adventure there unique.


How did you get involved in the environmental field? 

I’ve always been drawn to how nature is the best classroom. It invokes questions, wonder, and ultimately learning. Learning what happens in nature usually makes children feel good about themselves and the world. Becoming a field teacher prior to being a teacher in the classroom was the best professional development I could have to truly understand the learning process.

What’s your favorite environmental fact to share? 

Falling raindrops are shaped more like kidney beans than teardrops. This always blew the minds of kindergarten students, and they loved to draw accurate rain pictures for me.

Why did you become a RIEEA board member? 

I am excited to jump into the research and practice world of environmental education. The RIEEA board experience will help me to get to know all the people, policies, and programs that impact our state. I am looking forward to learning from the diverse and plentiful expertise that we have in such a small state!
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity. 
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