This year’s Annual Conference was themed rEEdefine, redefining how we reflect, connect and identify in the field of EE. It was held September 9 and 10 at the McKimmon Conference and Event Center on NC State’s campus in Raleigh, NC. The event saw 169 attendees over the two days, participating in 24 different sessions! A big thank you to the conference sponsors who helped support the event.
Reflecting, Connecting, and Identifying in EE:
This year EENC shared a Land Acknowledgement that was written by the newly formed North Carolina American Indian Heritage Commission with the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. This acknowledgement not only addresses the Native People across the state of North Carolina, but also allows EENC to address specific tribal recognition as the conference moves across the state to different regions.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Rasul Mowatt, NC State’s Department Head of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. He helped us better understand the definition of “decolonization”, a topic of national interest in Environmental Education right now. He shared ideas for resources to deepen our own knowledge, and ways Environmental Educators could continue the valuable work we are doing through practicing Critical Teaching.
This year’s conference also saw the launch of Affinity Groups in EE. An Affinity Group is a group of people linked by common interests, identities, or experiences. Affinity Groups play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where all are valued, included, and empowered to succeed. Overall the feedback has been very positive and participants have reported feeling welcomed and better connected within these spaces, but we’ve also heard your feedback on scheduling. Our goal next year is to continue to offer these spaces in a way that doesn’t conflict with sessions.
Many of you asked “Why McKimmon?” and the answer comes in our theme of redefining Environmental Education. Environmental education happens in all kinds of spaces, and this year, we wanted our conference venue to reflect that. Our field has become a beautifully diverse array of educators and EENC as a whole has grown tremendously over the last few years. This means that in order to provide inclusive experiences that best support the needs of conference attendees and presenters (meeting spaces, restroom facilities, dietary requirements, internet access, and physical/learning accessibility), EENC may start utilizing locations that look very different from what we’ve used in the past as the conference rotates across the different sections.
Next year EENC plans to host the Annual Conference at Camp Rockfish, near Fayetteville, NC. Field trips and workshops will be on Thursday September 7, and the conference will be September 8 and 9, 2023. We are already building our Conference Planning Committee and we could use your help! We are looking for folks interested in sharing their expertise in scheduling/logistics, building regional connections, and supporting access and inclusion to create a welcoming event. Please contact Michelle Pearce, EENC Program Coordinator, if you’d like to join the planning committee.