By Dru Marion
This fall, after a year of remote learning, SEI's Climate Corps Education Outside Fellows worked to rehabilitate the campus gardens at their schools and bring students back outside for garden class. Thanks to our cohort of twenty-nine incredible Fellows, thousands of students are once again getting the opportunity to engage with inquiry-based, hands-on science and ecoliteracy lessons during the regular school day and directly on their own school campuses. We hope you enjoy these snapshots joy, growth and (re)discovery in the school garden classroom:
By Katrina Hagedorn
Image by Trang Nguyen
Climate change is not just an individual issue, state problem, or national concern. It is one of the greatest challenges the world has ever faced.
The current workforce is not ready to undertake the challenge of transitioning to a clean economy. Additionally, marginalized communities are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change. Given both of these issues, SEI aims to strengthen leaders across communities and integrate environmental justice, equity, community engagement, and collaboration into all of its programs. Our Climate Corps program has been doing this work in collaboration with communities across California for over a decade. We are excited to announce that we have been expanding Climate Corps into new areas to help drive a national workforce transformation! One such area is the Pacific Northwest, including the state of Oregon.
Within Oregon, a diverse group of organizations has partnered to develop the ‘Oregon Climate Equity Project,’ which will broaden the climate movement in the state and strengthen BIPOC leadership in climate policy, advocacy, and development. In the Project, five Climate Corps Fellows focused on climate justice within BIPOC communities will be placed with nonprofit organizations and public agencies serving Oregon. Our partners on this project include Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI), Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Climate Solutions, Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC), Earth Advantage, Forth, the Oregon Environmental Council, and Verde.
When and how did you know you wanted to pursue a job in the environmental sphere?
I’ve wanted to work in this field since early childhood - in large part due to informal science programs like CCEO. For a long time I thought I would be a scientist, specifically a marine biologist, but then in the first year of undergrad I took a class called “Experiential Education in the Outdoors''. I remember unspooling string for young people to weave webs of life around ancient trees and feeling a sense of deep alignment. I think in The Secret Garden Frances Hodgsen Burnett refers to it as “The BIG GOOD THING.” While the field of environmental education requires a ton of shapeshifting, this feeling has remained central to my practice. It powers my commitments to kinship, celebration, and dismantling patterns which isolate people from their inherent worth and belonging. There is so much potential within the environmental sphere for communal and personal liberation -- I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.
By Hernán Gallo Cornejo
How do we engage all Californians in climate action while also preparing the next generation of sustainability leaders?
This is the key question the California Climate Action Corps program seeks to address. SEI is implementing the California Climate Action Corps program alongside Bay Area Community Resources (BACR), as part of California’s comprehensive strategy to address the climate crisis. California Volunteers, Office of the Governor, created this state-level climate service corps to catalyze meaningful climate action in California communities. As part of this effort, we provided climate career training to over 200 Fellows across the state this summer.
SEI Staff kicks off the training series with an orientation in June 2021
We harnessed the power and expertise of SEI’s Climate Corps fellowship program (launching sustainability careers since 2010) to provide summer Fellows with the tools to tackle real climate challenges, including food recovery, home hardening for wildfires, and urban greening. Once a week Fellows logged on to virtual training sessions that explored equity, climate careers, resilience, and networking.
Emerging professionals need to engage in meaningful hands-on work, but can also greatly benefit from additional investment in preparing them for careers that are truly transformative and create sustainable change. Confronting climate change requires “green” skills, including sustainability research, education, and environmental remediation. For these reasons, we felt it was imperative to provide in-depth training and skill development to the 200+ participants in the program.
SEI is spotlighting our amazing Climate Corps Fellows who have been working to protect our climate through a wide range of sustainability initiatives. This week we are highlighting Billie Hervas, Education and Training Fellow at the The Energy Coalition.
By Anne-Christine Strugnell
When Chloe Ney graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a BA in geography and environmental studies, she was eager to get started on a career in sustainable urban planning.
“Conservation of open space is hugely important,” she says. “By making urban spaces more appealing, sustainable, and better for our physical and mental health, we can reduce the tendency to sprawl and enhance the synergy between nature and the built environment.”
But Chloe found no entry-level opportunities: all the jobs in her preferred field required experience, and despite having completed an internship, she couldn’t get a foot in the door. One of her friends had participated in SEI’s Climate Corps program and urged Chloe to check it out. When she went to the SEI website, one opportunity jumped out for her: a Fellowship with Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) to promote on-campus energy conservation. LACCD has the most aggressive and comprehensive sustainability goals in the California community college system: 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% carbon free by 2040.
“I grew up in LA, and it’s a special place for me,” Chloe says. “And a college campus is a perfect place for an urban planner to get a start, because campuses are like mini cities.” She applied and was selected for the position.
Chloe and her supervisor Aris Hovasapian, Utility Program Manager at LACCD
Pivoting to professional achievement
Just six weeks after Chloe started her Fellowship at LACCD, the office went virtual in response to the pandemic. All the in-person outreach activities she had planned were cancelled. Now what?
SEI is spotlighting our amazing Climate Corps Fellows who have been working to protect our climate through a wide range of sustainability initiatives. This week’s Fellow spotlight is Benjamin Bravo, Preserve Resources Manager at Sonoma State University Center for Environmental Inquiry.
SEI is spotlighting our amazing Climate Corps Fellows who have been working to protect our climate through a wide range of sustainability initiatives. This week we are highlighting Noah Cordoba, Energy Efficiency and Building Electrification Fellow at East Bay Community Energy.
SEI is spotlighting our amazing Climate Corps Fellows who have been working to protect our climate through a wide range of sustainability initiatives. This week we are headed to the garden to spotlight Haleigh Yang, Climate Corps Education Outside(CCEO) Fellow at Visitacion Valley Elementary School
SEI is spotlighting our amazing Climate Corps Fellows who have been working to protect our climate through a wide range of sustainability initiatives. This week we are highlighting Shona Paterson, Compost and Recycling Associate at Alameda County.
The SEI Team
Environmental education and workforce development experts share stories from the field