Like many in our field, Eileen Everett often finds herself explaining she doesn’t just take kids hiking for a living.
This month, our featured members are also the pilot candidates in our EE Certification Program. Applications are now open for our 2016-17 class of certified environmental educators. Read more and apply here.
Environmental education involves so much more than wearing boots and a backpack and hitting the trail.
Eileen’s goal: New Mexico’s EE Certification Program will raise awareness of the diverse and complex facets of our work as well as the competencies required to succeed.
As the director of EEANM and the voice representing all members, Eileen’s investment in EE Certification is multi-layered, but her major role is as an advocate.
She hopes that EE Certification will be the standard for employers who seek to hire the most competent educators. She envisions a future in which certified environmental educators have an edge when applying for jobs and can demand better compensation for their work. Her dreams include a strengthened legitimacy and appreciation for environmental education.
She is also among the first group of trailblazing candidates to seek certification. As Eileen worked to prepare her own portfolio, she took the opportunity to step back and look at the evolution of her own career and to identify the gaps that need to be filled.
For her, it was this opportunity for self-evaluation that helped her to grow the most. “We are all so busy in our personal and professional lives, we don’t take the time to reflect on how much we already know and how many opportunities we have to grow as individuals and communities,” she says.
Through this process, Eileen examined the history of environmental education and was surprised by how much she didn’t know about its roots. The more she learned about early EE, the more she considered on her own role in the future of the field. Spoiler alert: this new awareness inspired the theme of the upcoming Environmental Literacy Summit.
As the search begins for the next group of EE Certification candidates, Eileen looks forward to the growth of her peers and reminds them they are not alone. While the certification process is self-directed, the advisors and fellow candidates provide a network of support. And it’s that network that may lead to the biggest reward.
As the ranks of EE-certified educators grow, our profession will gain awareness, credibility, and influence.
Want to join Eileen and hundreds of other awesome members of the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico? (We’d love that!) Click over here to join our community today.