The Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education is a member-based, professional community of individuals and organizations with diverse backgrounds that promotes responsible environmental action, elevates voices for environmental justice, and celebrates excellence in environmental education. Three pillars frame our work: Advocacy, Networking, and Recognition.
WAEE Land Acknowledgement Statement
The Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education would like to acknowledge the land and water in what is now called Wisconsin. We acknowledge the original caretakers of this land who continue to advocate for all of creation. We acknowledge all traditional caretakers of this land;
We acknowledge all of the Nations that have called this space home;
We acknowledge that we are on the traditional lands of the Menominee, Ho-Chunk, and Potawatomi.
We acknowledge the tribes that call Wisconsin Home; Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Nation, Forest County Potawatomi, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Sokaogon Chippewa Community, Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Saint Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, and Brothertown Indian Nation.
We acknowledge all of the original caretakers of this land and stand committed to supporting a vision of respect, humility, love, and responsibility.
Note to Membership
As environmental educators, we know diversity in the natural world leads to sustainability and resiliency. This is true in our social, economic, and political systems, too.
Historical and recent events around police brutality, racism, and injustice have highlighted the systemic racism that was deliberately built into our society. Those of us who are handed privilege at birth need to actively engage in the issue. A goal of environmental education includes teaching civic responsibility… and this is part of that responsibility. Advocacy for the natural world transfers to advocacy for the social world. We are not allies to trees, rather we are stewards of the land which implies a labor of love and action. To that end, we must also go beyond being allies to being stewards (and co-conspirators) with our fellow beings in the social, economic, and political realms.
So, what can we do as environmental educators? We can seek out curriculum resources, we can learn more about systemic racism and our own biases, we can speak out when others can’t and we can be still and listen to those who have been excluded from the outdoors and the environmental movement. Using the environment as a starting point, we can explore environmental racism and consider how we can be more involved in advocating--whether it be for clean water in our community, reducing pesticide use that disproportionately affects communities of color and low-income populations, or something else. We can donate to supporting organizations. We can review our own training procedures and policies.
WAEE has been working on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity through awards, conferences, workshops, and other professional development offerings. Within the past few years, we revised our mission and vision statements. Read each word below. As members and a board, we must consider how we can move our field forward and what actions we can take today to show our commitment and make a difference.
As an organization, we will increase our efforts—and that includes having a conversation with the membership. Those conversations will come through partnering with UW-Extension and the Department of Public Instruction, as well as through our own efforts.
We’ve also discussed the following:
- Continued, open, and honest learning and growing through conversations with membership and professional development.
- Engaging with those outside of environmental education organizations.
- Developing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity Committee that actively informs all efforts of our networking, advocacy, and recognition pillars.
- Committing to being accessible to all of the membership.
- Inviting and removing barriers for conference presenters that add to our learning related to the topic.
- Increasing funding for scholarships to increase diversity of attendees at conferences.And this is all part of our “new normal.” What do you hope for that new normal? What are you committed to doing? It’s time for us all to take action to address inequities.
You can find additional resources on the WAEE website at http://www.waee.org/eco-justice-resources