Integrating Inclusivity and Diversity in our Community

The Sonoma Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC) is a regional consortium of environmental education professionals from organizations, agencies, networks, and school districts, whose mission is to create vibrant, innovative collaborations that increase environmental literacy with Sonoma County students. Official members include Pepperwood, Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Sonoma Water, LandPaths, Sonoma Ecology Center, Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, NOAA, Westminster Woods, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, Point Blue Conservation Science, Friends of the Petaluma River, Center for Climate Protection, Sonoma Resource and Conservation District, Daily Acts, and Audubon Canyon Ranch. Collectively SEEC reaches over 25,000 students and community members annually through school programs, community classes and hikes, youth development programs, camps, and virtual programming. Margaret Boeger, Pepperwood’s Education Director, currently serves as the Chair of SEEC, with Pepperwood as the fiscal sponsor.

With the support of the Community Foundation of Sonoma County in 2021-2022, SEEC hosted 6 virtual workshops and 3 in-person workshops for environmental educators. The workshops included Fire and Climate Change Communication, Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) into curriculum, and strategies for trauma and wellness communication for youth and providers. This spring the series has focused on Cultural Competency around LGBTQAI+ with training from Positive Images and Seed Minkin, and a training session with Judy Smith at Sugarloaf State Park, where the focus was on inclusion of those members in our communities with differing physical abilities. 

In March we expanded the professional development series to include Administrators from the SEEC organizations, and held a workshop focusing on Indigenous community integration within environmental organizations with a program titled “Going Beyond Land Acknowledgements,” hosted by the Redbud Resource Group. In this interactive seminar, participants learned about the strengths and limitations of land acknowledgements and explored concrete, action-oriented strategies for building connections with Native communities and organizations. Participants left with clear pathways to create meaningful change at all levels within their organizations so that they could further include Indigenous voices and communities in their programming. The 50 participants in this workshop included Board Members and Managers from Pepperwood and our partners at the Laguna Foundation, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Ecology Center, Audubon Canyon Ranch, Point Blue Conservation Science, LandPaths, Sonoma RCD, and Point Reyes National Seashore Association.

Support from the Community Foundations’ contributions to SEEC also provided training for 20 teachers to obtain certification in Project Learning Tree’s environmental education training program, led by local expert Laura Powell. This curriculum helps teachers connect science and nature into their K-12th grade lesson plans. Funding from SEEC and CFSC also provided scholarships for two early career environmental educators from Pepperwood and the Laguna Foundation to gain their certifications through the National Association of Interpreters, a highly acclaimed program that teaches educators best practices in science communication.

To learn more about SEEC, please visit their website.

The in-person workshop featured in this photo was led by Daily Acts and held at Pepperwood in December, and 25 providers were trained in mindfulness and art-based activities that can be used  for the children of Sonoma county dealing with trauma -whether it’s living with COVID or recovering from wildfires.

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