A Somber Summer Solstice

Summer solstice is typically one of my favorite days of the year. Much like plants, I run on light. Nothing motivates me more than a long, sunny day! As the official kickoff of summer, we enjoyed a 14-hour-and-50-minute-day length in Northern California on June 20th. That’s a lot of time to photosynthesize the sun’s energy!

This year, however, the summer solstice took on a more somber tone as I reflected on June 19th, Juneteenth Day. According to the National Museum of African American History, Juneteenth commemorates the date slaves were freed in Galveston, TX when the civil war ended in 1865. This year, the U.S. recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday, an action taken to acknowledge tremendous resilience of the Black community in the face of longstanding historical racism.

“The promise of equality is not going to be fulfilled until we become real, it becomes real in our schools and on our Main Streets and in our neighborhoods,” the president said. 

“Two of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offer a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone—not just for people of color.” ~Children & Nature Network

I recently had the honor to witness this resilience during a live (virtual) event organized by the Children & Nature Network: Inside Out! Leadership Series, where I got to listen to Heather McGhee in conversation with her mother, Dr. Gail Christopher. They talked about the importance of outdoor learning opportunities and the ways in which systemic racism has played out in public life. To learn more, check out McGhee’s book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. From the draining of public pools to the divestment in city parks, McGhee offers an economic and social perspective on what racism has “cost” all Americans.

To celebrate organizations who are leading the way in the face of social inequity and racial injustice in outdoor education, this month’s post highlights curated resources for celebrating resilience and confronting racism. These resources offer myriad ways to connect with and support communities of color as you strive to make science, wellness, or environmental literacy education more just, equitable, and inclusive. For even more learning on resilience, diversity, and community-based strategies for getting kids outside, register for the 29th Annual National Children and Youth Symposium. At just $65 for three full days, this virtual event promises to inspire!

Enhancing STEM Education (for All)

  • This piece, Providing opportunities of color to explore the outdoors and science careers, from Reclaiming Spaces explores outdoor leadership training from the perspective of a Black environmental educator in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Citizen Science Association (CSA)’s Integrity, Diversity, and Equity Working Group compiled resources including the 2018 NSF STEM for ALL video showcase Public’s Choice award winner, Community Perspectives: Transforming Science to Benefit ALL.

Nurturing Wellness (and Healing Trauma)

Fostering (Equitable) Environmental Literacy

  • Be sure to check out the podcast “Black in Nature” which can be found on the NAAEE Equity Resources page.
  • BEETLES shared this Listly material related to justice, equity, race and racism in environmental education.

Another change in season reminds me to take stock and look ahead. Taking stock, I have many things to be grateful for in the past year: good health, a challenging career, and a diverse community of educators with which I am connected. Looking forward, I recommit to making equity a guiding practice that centers my work.

Don’t Miss Out!

Centering Antiracism and Abolitionist Teaching in Garden-Based Learning
Dr. Scott Morrison | Associate Professor | Elon University
Dani Toma-Harrold | Student | Elon University

While environmental and place-based education don’t inherently address racism and white supremacy, getting outside and especially into gardens can be radically antiracist. In this session, presenters will discuss how educators can center antiracism and abolitionist teaching in garden-based learning to foster a sense of belonging, enhance engagement, deepen learning, and connect with the local community. Antiracist education and abolitionist teaching disrupt the inequalities within the educational system by centering the experiences of students of color, building on their community cultural wealth, and reallocating power and resources. Presenters will share examples of what this looks like in practice. Wednesday, July 7 3:00pm (EDT)



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National Children & Youth Garden Symposium

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