8th Annual symposium banner: reciprocal healing

Welcome to the 8th Annual Environmental Education Symposium!

Welcome to the Environmental Education Collaborative’s annual symposium! We are so excited to present a new group of workshops and panels to connect our incredible community of educators and knowledge-holders. This year’s theme of Reciprocal Healing was born out of the community-wide need for restorative space. As we reach the end of Black History Month, we are acutely aware of the historical (and even current) exclusion of Black voices in Environmental Education. Because of this we are striving to center Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and youth experience. As environmental educators, we continually work to empower people to conserve, protect, and restore the environment, and it is important to recognize that in doing so, we too heal and restore ourselves. We appreciate your participation and look forward to connecting with you through these next few days and within the EEC groups beyond the symposium!

*Important* The symposium is password-protected. To access the Zoom sessions, please register for the symposium to receive a unique password. The password should have been emailed to registered attendees through EventBrite. If you did not receive it, check your spam folder or email us at eecollaborative@gmail.com.

Thursday, February 24th 

3:45 PM – Tech Support – join early to troubleshoot Zoom functions and ask questions

4:00 PM – Symposium Day 1 Start

4:15 PM – Capacitar Self Healing Techniques 

4:45 PM – No STEM without US! Decolonizing Science, Math & Environmental Curriculum

5:30 PM – Facilitated Reflection

5:45 PM – Day 1 Closing Remarks

6:00 PM – Day 1 End

Friday, February 25th

3:45 PM – Tech Support – join early to troubleshoot Zoom functions and ask questions

4:00 PM – Symposium Day 2 Start

4:15 PM – Branching Out and Making Connections

5:00 PM – Painting with Nature

5:45 PM – Day 2 Closing Remarks

6:00 PM – Day 2 End

Saturday, February 26th

8:15 AM – Tech Support

8:45 AM – Symposium Day 3 Start

9:00 AM – Thank you to our sponsors

9:15 AM – Ancient Knowledge of Giving and Hope from the Elders

9:45 AM – Concurrent Workshops 1

10:30 AM – BREAK – Affinity Groups

11:00 AM – Concurrent Workshops 2

11:45 AM – BREAK – Affinity Groups

12:00 PM – Environmental Impacts from Detention & Mass Incarceration: “Stories from Adelanto” 

1:00 PM – Social Hour/Open Mic

Session and Speaker Descriptions

Thursday, February 24th-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

No STEM without US! Decolonizing Science, Math & Environmental Curriculum

This workshop will unpack and analyze the very problematic curriculum that shows up in Science, Math & Environmental discussions that erases and harms Native, First People & Indigenous peoples. The panel will include an intergenerational, intersectional group of parents, teachers, activists and leaders who have been working and advocating both inside and outside educational systems to make changes in how Native, Indigenous & First Peoples are recognized in local community and educational spaces. Panelists will also take questions from the attendees based on their personal experiences with this work. 

Presented by: Mary Valdemar has been an advocate in the Inland Empire and at San Bernardino Valley College for over 20 years. Her passion for advocacy started as a student and continued as a struggling single mother, Chicana Indigena feminist and environmental advocate with a special focus on decolonizing and working on bringing together Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. She currently serves on several Diversity, Equity and Inclusion bodies within the community college district and coalitions throughout the Inland region including the Civil & HumanRights Committee of the Inland Empire Labor Council, the Co-Chair of the Ethnic Studies Inland Empire Coalition, as Co-Founder of ChICCCAA the only grassroots service cooperative in the IE, and the lead organizer for Village and Child Co-Op/Women’s Sacred Circle. Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra was born and raised in Pomona California. She is married to David Ybarra also a Pomona native. She has four children Tony, Richard, Daniel and Jennifer Quiroga and three grandchildren. She retired from the Los Angeles County Fair/Fairplex in 2006 after more than thirty years of employment. Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra currently holds the office of Tribal Chair of the Rumšen Am:a Tur:ataj Ohlone and is also the Director of the American Indian Movement So Cal. Chairperson Ybarra’s Indigenous roots derive from the Rumšen Ohlone who inhabited what is now Carmel/Monterey California, the Gabrieleño Kizh Band of Mission Indians of the southern California area and Tewa/Comanche from Abiquiu, New Mexico. She spends her time supporting causes associated with protecting human rights and equality for all people. She helps bring awareness to the Missing Murdered Indigenous People, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide rates that plague Turtle Island. She also believes in preserving the culture
and traditions of the native people and instills our duties as caretakers and guardians of mother earth. She believes that the children need to be taught to be proud of who they are and passes down a quote from her elder and mentor Dennis Banks, “never back down, never give up.” 
Sean Milanovich is a local boy from Southern California and is a member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Sean grew up on the Reservation at the eastern base of the San Jacinto Mountains. Sean holds a PhD in American History specializing in Native American History from the University of California Riverside. Sean’s interest revolves around the local Indigenous Community leaning towards tribal history, tribal sovereignty, traditional songs and stories, native foods and medicines, and wellness. Milanovich has a deep connection with the land and loves to explore and engage with the trails in the desert, valleys, and mountains. Sean enjoys harvesting and eating agave, mesquite beans, and pinyon nuts. Sean Milanovich works with Riverside University Health System-Behavioral Health as a Native American Cultural Community Liaison. As Vice-President, Milanovich works with the Native American Land Conservancy passing on traditional knowledge and stewarding Indigenous lands. Henry Vasquez, a Huachichil Indian, retired educator, local historian and UCR alumnus, plays Native American flute blessings for many of the cultural, educational and local events in our region.  He is the chair of the Native American Community Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties and is also a member
of the IMISA (Indigenous Musical Instrument Society of the Americas.) Henry has been active in local advocacy groups including Future Leaders and has been a leader and mentor for many youth, teachers, and local activists for many years. Beatriz Perez is a millennial woman of Nahua & Purépecha descent from Central Anahuac (Mexico). She is currently a guest living on Cahuilla land (Riverside), but she was born and raised on Tongva Land (Southeast Los Angeles). Beatriz is a proud mother; a member of the LGBTQ+ community; a supporter of Indigenous education, immigration reform, human rights, and environmental justice. She is a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Cal State LA. Beatriz strives to continuously support indigenous education while continuing to learn and decolonize.     



Capacitar Self Healing Techniques

These practices will help develop resilience and ways to empower you and your community to help you advocate for needed changes so you will have the energy, strength, courage and relaxed focus to continue your work as you face the challenges ahead. We will be demonstrating and practicing these techniques together. 

Presented by: Linda Braatz Brown serves as a consultant and thought partner for Action Driven Inquiry. She has over 33 years of service in public education, retiring from the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools as the Science Coordinator serving over 32 school districts. Linda has been deeply involved in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards locally, regionally, and throughout the state. Wendy Zinn has a varied background in both business and education including, owner of her own financial firm for over 35 years. When retiring from business and moving Into education she has worked on many projects in both formal and nonformal education. She retired from the San Bernardino Community College District and is now consulting and runs summer camps for gifted children in California and Maryland.

Friday, February 25th----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Branching Out and Making Connections

Going beyond simply acknowledging the original stewards of the lands on which we teach, we are collaborating with our local Tribe to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing alongside Science Standards as complementary ways of understanding our world in our “Branching Out” program. We will discuss our collaboration process in getting started, then Tara Frank, Director of the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Cultural Center, will share an interactive lesson on the Paiute language, seasons, and foods that are part of our lessons, and McKenzie Dale, Americorps Member with the Tribe, will highlight restoration work we have done with students.

Presented by: Tara Frank (Paiute/ Shoshone/ Navajo) is the Director of the Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center, an entity of the Bishop Paiute Tribe. She is knowledgeable in the field of tribal and cultural preservation; cultural resource management; historical documents and archives; collection management; educational outreach and fundraising. Through this position, she has been able to help expand the knowledge of the local indigenous people of the Owens Valley, create and renew museum partnerships and collaborate on new projects with individuals and organizations at various local, state, tribal, and federal levels. Maggie Riley is the Outdoor Education and Science Specialist for Inyo County Office of Education. She has been an outdoor science educator in many capacities, including residential outdoor science schools, museums, zoos, preserves, and national parks. She is dedicated to getting students outdoors to learn, and firmly believes that the best science classroom has no walls! McKenzie Dale is an AmeriCorps member serving with the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Environmental Management Office through the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership. In her AmeriCorps position, she assists with coordinating environmental education programs and habitat restoration projects which take place on the Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Conservation Open Space Area. Prior to serving with AmeriCorps, McKenzie worked for a variety of organizations in the field of Environmental Education since 2012. McKenzie is particularly interested in the ways that land stewardship projects can be incorporated into environmental education programming.

Painting with Nature

Gardening and conservation can promote healing of the earth while also providing moments to be mindful, observe and meditate to promote healing in our bodies and minds. This session will discuss the basics of dye creation (boiling and steeping) and will provide a color chart example. It will discuss what plants attendees with access to gardens and outdoor learning spaces may want to consider for planting if they are interested in adding an art component to their functionality, and if they don’t have access to gardens, it will discuss collection with ethical practices and also what to look for in a grocery store if necessary. After, we will have a brief art session discussing nature journaling and adding a splash of color to page with the dyes. If you’d like to follow along with the sketching portion, you will need paper and a utensil to draw with.

Presented by: Kim Cobb is a local educator and the owner of The Lovely Bug, a one-woman business focused on art and informal learning in the Riverside area. Kim is originally from Pasadena, CA and has studied History and Museum Education at California State University Chico and the University of London. She has worked for local museums, school districts, and cities teaching nature and science related curriculum. With her easy-going attitude and upbeat personality, Kim enjoys making learning fun, informal, and stress free. A selection of Kim’s work, products she offers for sale, consulting services, and commission details can be found on her website Thelovelybug.com.


Saturday, February 26th---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ancient Knowledge of Giving and hope from the Elders

Stories of how Native communities shared their harvest of the seasons. Stories of respect of all living things we are all connected.

Presented by: Valerie Cardenas Dobesh. Riverside San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. San Manuel Clinic Behavioral Health Services/ Community Health Workers program in Grand Terrace. I specialize in Community Outreach/ Prevention Education connecting with community and educating now for 17 years in mental health. I am also a Master Herbalist and Master Gardener. I take great pride in working and teaching hands on with local communities.

City Nature Challenge with iNaturalist

With a year of remote learning and many students still quarantining inside, we could use an excuse to get outside and reconnect with nature. Ever wondered what that weed is growing in the sidewalk or what bug is crawling on the windowsill? iNaturalist is a free app that helps identify organisms and relies on identifications from real scientists and other citizen naturalists. Using the iNaturalist app and website, anyone can upload photos of organisms around them. “The City Nature Challenge is an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s a bioblitz-style competition where cities are in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people.” Learn how to get involved and have your students participate in the challenge!

Presented by: Jackie Gardner, a middle school science teacher and NGSS specialist at North Mountain Middle School in San Jacinto, California. Her passion for exploring the outdoors started when she was young, like most curious kids, but attending Humboldt State University in the Pacific Northwest cemented her deep connection with nature. While pursuing her BA & MA degrees in Education, lessons were often tied to the local environment and she has continued to utilize place-based teaching strategies in her lessons. In 2019 she lead my first workshop at the EEC Symposium and has continued to be involved in SciEd communication ever since.

Be the Change: Civic Engagement Lessons to Heal the World

Encouraging collaboration and civic engagement around daunting environmental challenges can give students empowering tools to address these issues and make a difference. In this interactive session, engage in group activities that promote community thinking and collective action around issues of sustainability – both globally and at the very local level. Then, learn about a toolkit to help students move their awareness to civic action, all while building skills in communication, critical reasoning and organizing. This toolkit also builds skills in research, the critical examination of information sources, persuasive communications, organizing, and collaboration within schools and communities.

Presented by: Helen de la Maza has been a volunteer trainer with Population Education for over 20 years. She worked for Orange County Department of Education’s Inside the Outdoors environmental literacy education program for nine years as a naturalist, staff trainer, and curriculum developer. She was also a curriculum writer for a statewide project brought about by California’s Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) legislation. Helen currently works in formal education as a part-time Science Specialist teaching 4th – 6th grade students, and teaches an elementary science methods course at a local university.

Building Soil, Building Community

This session will demonstrate how composting can be used to build community while building soil. Using personal examples from school and community gardens, we will highlight the benefits of composting, demystify the process, and outline the steps to starting a community composting project. Through group discussions and exercises, participants will explore ways they can help to improve soil, support local food production, reduce waste, mitigate climate change, and promote health in their own neighborhoods. Resources will be provided to enable participants to delve deeper into the details of composting and launch their own project after the session.

Presented by: Debbie Schnur is the Environmental Education Coordinator for the University of California Cooperative Extension San Bernardino County and the Farm to School Program Assistant for the Upland Unified School District. She is a Master Gardener and training to be a Master Food Preserver. During the 2019-2020 school year, Debbie was a FoodCorps/AmeriCorps service member at Phelan Elementary. She is passionate about helping schools build vibrant gardens and connecting students with healthy food. As a member of the Root 66 Community Garden in Rancho Cucamonga, she supports community composting projects and education.

Transporting Students into Air quality, STEM Focused Curriculum

The Energy Coalition will introduce participants to the topics of air quality and transportation through our 3rd-5th grade STEM lesson Emission Investigation. We will also introduce participants to how they can apply real-life local examples of air quality issues within the Inland Region to their classrooms through our hands-on activity. Through the application of current issues, we hope educators and students will be able to learn about the sources of health issues that are pressing within their community. Poor air quality contributes to many health factors, such as asthma and heart disease.

Presented by: Chloe Friedheim is an AmeriCorps fellow serving The Energy Coalition. As a graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is passionate about environmental justice and electrical vehicles. As a fellow, Chloe has supported the Healthy Stores Refrigeration Program as well as the Education & Outreach team. Through the refrigeration program, Chloe assists in distributing efficient refrigerators to communities with low access to fresh food within Los Angeles. As a member of the Education team, Chloe presents renewable energy material to classrooms and educators in order to spread awareness on environmental issues. Lucy Fellner is a Climate Corps AmeriCorps fellow serving The Energy Coalition. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies. In her fellowship, she assists in development and engagement for the Education & Outreach team. Lucy is especially passionate about environmental education for all ages.

Environmental Impacts from Detention & Mass Incarceration: “Stories from Adelanto” 

This panel is co-hosted by Shutdown Adelanto (SDA), Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, and our EEC Affinity Group on Immigration. 

Let’s help educators and community make the connection across movements at the intersection of Environmental Justice and Immigrant Detention. Building upon local work from youth, families, and community members to shut down toxic cages, our panelists will talk about the impacts of detention centers and mass incarceration on local environmental issues such as contaminated water and pesticides. They will share about the work being done to hold facilities in Adelanto accountable and past actions by the community to stop further impacts, expansion of profit-making toxic facilities, and environmental damage.

Presented by: Eddie Torres is a proud son of Mexican immigrants. He is passionate about abolishing the capitalist institutions that perpetuate the oppression of our most vulnerable communities. Eddie earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the University of California, Riverside and has 8 years of experience working as a public servant. With his free time, Eddie enjoys drinking coffee with his wife, hiking with his dogs, working out, and reading. Currently, his favorite quote and words to live by are, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” by Frantz Fanon. Lizbeth Abeln is a proud daughter, mother, and wife, native to Chiapas, Mexico (Mayan Territories) but now residing in the Inland Empire. Her lived experiences have informed the work of the immigrant rights movement for over 6 years. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of California Irvine, Lizbeth now serves her community as the Deportation Defense Director with Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. Lizbeth leads the Shut Down Adelanto Coalition, a grassroots coalition working to shut down one of the biggest and most problematic detention centers in the nation. Lizbeth has co-created the Resilient Voices program, the first re-entry holistic program for immigrants in Southern California. In her free time, Lizbeth enjoys taking her family to farmer/flea markets and night markets in the IE.

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