Rhode Island Environmental
Education Association

2022 Annual Summit

Trees for the People:
Environmental Justice for Rhode Island’s Frontline Communities

Our 2022 Annual Summit, Trees for the People: Environmental Justice for Rhode Island’s Frontline Communities, was held on Saturday, April 30, 2022 from 8am to 12pm at Rhode Island College. 

The morning event included a keynote address presented by Joann Ayuso, Kufa Castro, and Tonay Gooday-Ervin about the connection between trees and environmental justice for Rhode island’s frontline communities; small group discussions; our Annual Environmental Education Awards; a full, hot breakfast; and raffles to support our programs.

Thank you to all who attended!

A Black woman talking in a small group session to a white woman, listening intently

Keynote Speakers

Jo of Movement Education Outdoors speaking into a microphone at the 2022 annual summit

Joann Ayuso (she/her), Founding Director of Movement Education Outdoors and community advocate

Joann “Jo” Ayuso is a community collaborator who practices hands-on healing, poetry, love for food and the outdoors with emphasis on social justice, honoring ancestors and undoing negative perceptions of the outdoors and wellness. She has been working as a self-care educator for over 20 years holding an MS in Exercise Science and Physiology. Working in the health care, fitness, education and within prison systems has shaped her communication as well as her desire to work in community with Black and Brown farmers and youth. Jo spends her days organizing Movement Education Outdoors, a youth outdoor experience program, supporting community-based organizations in understanding inclusion and equity and uniting with educators and leaders of color on how to increase access to health and wellness in the education system for low-income, Black and brown students in Rhode Island.

Kufa Castro (he/him), Artist & Community Organizer

As the Recruitment and Leadership Coordinator at Building Futures, Kufa Castro helps connect low-income adults to Registered Apprenticeships in building and construction, leading to rewarding careers with family-sustaining wages. Originally from the Dominican Republic and raised in Providence and Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Kufa uses art and community organizing to connect with his community and document the history of Latino immigration in Rhode Island. He has also worked a Project Assistant with Rhode Island Latino Arts, program manager for the Trees4Us program with American Forests, a creative assistant for Genao Films, and led multiple programs with Groundwork RI . He’s also an artist, actor, and media producer, recently adapting and translating 3 plays that were produced by Brown University’s MFA program and Rhode Island Latino Arts and Trinity Repertory Theater’s “Teatro en el Verano” Summer program (2018-2020). 
Kufa Castro speaking at the 2022 Annual Summit

Tonay Gooday-Ervin (they/them), Inventory Arborist and Massachusetts Certified Arborist

Tonay is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe in Arizona and is a third generation Cuban American. They have lived a majority of their life in New England, learning about the land and interacting with the natural world. In college at the University of Rhode Island they learned about material culture and worked closely with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan peoples doing archaeology and tribal historic preservation. Tonay is an avid forager and observer of local ecosystems both urban and rural. Their current work is in invasive species control and doing tree risk assessments in the Worcester area with the Davey Resource Group. Aside from tree work Tonay is a lauded dancer of several indigenous styles and also is a local visual artist. Most recently they have been exploring making contemporary art with traditional materials, specifically birch bark. They strive to find meaning and purpose in life by interacting with the environment in several formats and learning about our environment as a skilled worker and artist and an indigenous person.

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