Rhode Island Environmental
Education Association

Saguaro cacti fill the foreground of the image with desert brush on the ground. Behind the cacti are scattered clouds in the blue sky and a reddish mountain in the backgroundOne way RIEEA supports our members is with professional development (PD) scholarships to support lifelong learning. Recently, we awarded a scholarship to Rachel Holbert with Newport Tree Conservancy. Read on to see how she used the scholarship to expand her connections and environmental education knowledge!

From Rachel Holbert:

I was grateful to receive a RIEEA PD scholarship to help get me to the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) annual conference in Tucson, AZ, this past October. I had been to this conference once pre-pandemic and was interested in returning to an in-person gathering of minds. This time, I wore the hat of my current role: someone who connects folks in my city with their urban forest. 

I was blown away by the assemblage of human resources: ways of thinking that were new to me, stories of experiences in teaching environmental literacy, and opportunities to connect and reconnect. My favorite element of the conference was a keynote talk from Robin Wall Kimmerer, an Indigenous botanist and author of Braiding Sweetgrass. Her message of intertwining Indigenous ways of knowing the natural world and western science was helpful for my present program approach and design. In addition to engaging with folks on topics of institutionalized racism in our education system, youth activism, and using data to support partnerships, I was enthralled by the Sonoran desert. The arid landscape gifted me the experience of seeing eleven bird species I had never seen, as well as plants, reptiles, and invertebrates with amazing adaptations.  

Thank you, RIEEA! I look forward to carrying all that I learned and experienced forward into my work in the urban forest with the Newport Tree Conservancy.

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