Alternate title: Confessions of a self proclaimed North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Groupie
It all started with an application to a joint program between Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and NAAEE. I still remember sitting in a local coffee shop for several days working on Hurricane’s application to be a UL Innovative Education Award winner and feeling such pride in where I worked and what we had been able to accomplish up to that point in our existence. Now two full years later, not only was Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership selected as a 2017 Tier II award winner with ULIEA, I have personally fallen down the rabbit hole and become a full fledged NAAEE groupie (complete with a profile on NAAEE’s eePRO platform and a subscription to their Imagine If podcast). While we were well on our way to having national impact previously, our involvement with NAAEE has sped up that process by leaps and bounds.
One measure of that impact is through the amazing collaborative opportunities that came directly out of the connections we made through the ULIEA network. One such collaboration with the Chicago Eco House (another 2017 ULIEA winner) was highlighted on the ULIEA blog recently, outlining the work we are doing with HAWX Open Ocean and the Islseboro Central School to improve an innovative new device called a Sea Rocket. The students from both programs will be working on improving the sustainability of the device and the Islesboro students will be testing the newly engineered solutions and using the Sea Rocket to collect data in Penobscot Bay.
Another collaboration is with the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program (2015 ULIEA winner), an amazing and intensive after school and summer science enrichment program through the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The young women in this program progress through two major phases, the second of which expands their career horizons and gives them experiences outside of Philadelphia. One of these young women, Nayeli Perez, came to Hurricane Island on a scholarship and wrote an amazing piece about her time on Hurricane for the most recent WINS newsletter. I teared up (and laughed out loud) reading her narrative so I highly suggest you read it yourself as an amazingly honest view of how impactful the whole experience was for her on multiple levels.
Apparently not content with what we already had accomplished through our work with NAAEE, I threw my hat back in the ring in 2018 and was selected as one of 32 international ee360 Community Fellows. These fellows were selected from as far away as Nepal, New Zealand, India and China, and as close by as a fellow Mainer and everyone was joined by our desire to address environmental challenges and build community resilience. The connections with these amazing individuals has already impacted me beyond measure and I am bringing that energy and new knowledge into my work at Hurricane Island. My action project is specifically designed to support a cohort of teachers to implement place-based education projects with their own classrooms and communities, kicking off with a joint retreat this August on Hurricane Island.
Hurricane continues to grow its impact and we have an incredible year round and seasonal staff that are pushing the work forward. To say that I feel privileged to work for this organization is an understatement and I similarly cannot fully express how grateful I am (and we are) to NAAEE and all the programs mentioned for recognizing the work we do and helping us to expand our reach to more individuals, more organizations, and more communities. You can be sure we will continue our work in 2019 so check back often for updates on all our endeavors and we would love to hear about any other connections you want to send our way!