Fostering Connections to Grow Outdoor Learning

A symposium focused on rural northern New Mexico

April 18, 2022, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm MST

Held by Zoom
Session 1 – Cultural Relevancy
Knowledge Equity in Outdoor Learning
Session 2 – Building Relationships
Speed Networking & Collaborations

Conservation Science Center @ New Mexico Highlands University and Environmental Education of New Mexico are joining to convene the Fostering Connections to Grow Outdoor Learning Symposium focused on building relationships, connections, and opportunities for youth and teachers in rural communities to outdoor and environmental learning programs and resources. 

Across New Mexico, students, families, and teachers in rural areas have deep connections to place and the land, unique to each community. Outdoor and environmental educators with programs, curricula, camps, and opportunities are ready to serve learners across the state but face unique challenges in reaching and serving rural youth and schools. This symposium is designed with those opportunities and challenges in mind. Join us for inspiring speakers, interactive workshops, and opportunities to build relationships to help increase outdoor and environmental learning in rural New Mexico. 

The half-day conference includes a panel discussion about knowledge equity in outdoor learning, emphasizing attention to local knowledge and perspectives educators and participants/students bring and offer as learners, as educators, and community members. This conversation will draw on the call for epistemic justice in education in New Mexico, seen recently in the updated New Mexico social studies standards, the Yazzie Martinez settlement, and many anti-racism and social and environmental justice projects.


  • Samuel Villareal Catanach, Director of Pueblo of Pojoaque Tewa Language Department
  • Lupita Salazar, Executive Director of Northern Youth Project with youth leaders from the organization, Mariah Gonzales and Matias Coronado
  • Loretta Trujillo, College & Career Coordinator with Santa Fe Public Schools, Native American Student Services

Following the panel, participants will take part in a series of networking activities and opportunities to build relationships to help maximize limited resources and expand capacity to serve rural youth, families, teachers, and program providers with relevant and meaningful outdoor and environmental learning opportunities in and out of school.

This symposium is grounded in northern New Mexico, but rural communities face similar challenges across the state. All are welcome as we work towards a model for expanding and resourcing our student communities. This program is possible through the generous support of the Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) Foundation Education Enrichment Grant. Part two of this symposium, co-sponsored by LANL Foundation and the USDA Forest Service Southwestern Region, will be offered in August 2022 and will focus on outdoor classroom support and curricular content, as well as the development of an outdoor classroom toolkit. 

Supported by: Environmental Education of New Mexico, Conservation Science Center @ New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Forest & Watershed Restoration Institute, and the LANL Foundation.