Member Feature: Rink Somerday

Rink fell in love with the outdoors as a child in Girl Scouts. As an adult, her work connects thousands of children to nature every year.

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.

Rink-SomerdayRink first discovered EE 20 years ago when her boss at the Colorado Division of Wildlife involved her with Project Wild.

She quickly found herself immersed in the field, working with Project Wet, Project Learning Tree, serving on the board for Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and much more. Now, she works as the Program Coordinator for the Asombro Institute for Science Education, where she has been for 13 years.

In her current role, Rink has taught over 10,000 3rd graders in the Experience Science program. With that many participants, it’s hard to remember every student, but one student definitely remembered Rink!

She encountered this student while judging his 7th grade science fair project. His experiment failed, and he told her that when he was in 3rd grade, she had taught him it was OK to make a mistake as long as he learned from it.

For Rink, that simple statement was a huge reminder that educators often don’t know when they spark something great. She keeps this student in mind every time she gives a lesson, aiming to encourage and inspire them while knowing that she may never see the impact she makes.

Rink contributed to the development of New Mexico’s EE Certification program, and she is now among the first group of candidates for certification. For Rink, the reality of the process has expanded well beyond what she originally envisioned.

The depth and scope of the program has brought her 20 years of experience to the surface. It is gratifying to see how the field of environmental education has changed over the years, from having a “fluffy” reputation to being a legitimate and credible profession.

Rink-Somerday-2For Rink, the professional benefits of EE Certification extend beyond the initial round of portfolio development. She looks forward to staying on the cutting edge of new theories in the field because she doesn’t want her own career to be stagnant.

Although she wishes she could have undergone this program 20 years ago, she is excited about the opportunity for EE Certification to open doors for others and to give credibility to our profession.

She emphasizes that partnerships between formal and informal educators are invaluable and that a program doesn’t have to be labeled as EE for students to learn about their world. She believes that “getting kids outside sparks the next generation of stewardship, sustainability and protection of the natural environment.”

Rink takes pride in EEANM’s commitment to improving our state’s education reputation. While New Mexico’s education ranking is low when compared to other states, she is proud that it is the EE community that is taking strides to improve it.


Want to join Rink 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.