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Action Teams

Action Teams are aligned with specific COEEA initiatives, such as Awards, CT Green LEAF Schools, Conference, Mini-Grants, etc. Each team sets its own agenda to work towards a goal or project, so the responsibilities vary from team to team. Action Teams meet independently of Board meetings, and can include both Board and regular COEEA members.


Interested in joining an Action Team? Contact us!




Board of Directors


Gustavo Requena Santos


Gustavo grew up in close contact with the Brazilian Rainforest, a fascination that years later motivated him to become a field biologist by the Universidade Estadual de Campinas. His passion for nature and science compelled him to do fieldwork in the familiar forests around his hometown, and also in the Brazilian savannah, in the Amazon, and in the Tropical Forests of Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica. In 2012, he obtained his PhD in Ecology from the Universidade de São Paulo. As an academic, Gustavo strongly advocates for the importance of science literacy and critical thinking for advancements in education and social transformation. In 2017, he moved to Connecticut and decided to transition from academia to the non-profit sector, particularly using outdoor education to promote science literacy, where audiences of all ages and backgrounds experience the scientific method by doing science themselves. He has worked with the non-profits New Haven Land Trust and Solar Youth. Gustavo and his partner Stephen live in Hamden, love hiking and camping, and have been exploring CT outdoors on weekend trips across the state.


Jim Clifford


Jim Clifford is in his third career, as an environmental educator and organizer, after being a trial lawyer and social studies teacher. He has lived most of his life near the shores of Long Island Sound. Jim received a B.A. from Georgetown University and J.D. from Catholic University. Jim taught high school social studies for 29 years. In 2015, Jim created Exploring Justice, a nonprofit providing social justice experiential learning opportunities for students. Jim studied environmental education with National Geographic, Shelburne Farms, and the Presidio. He is a trip leader for Sierra Club, specializing in youth environmental trips. He served on the steering committee rewriting CT’s social studies standards and later wrote climate and environmental literacy content standards for all K-12 courses. In 2022, Jim presented at the NAAEE annual conference on integrating environmental literacy in social studies. Jim is the lead organizer for the Connecticut Climate Hub, dedicated to providing free educational resources and professional development opportunities for all Connecticut teachers, based on the model established by Subject to Climate. 


Nicole Freidenfelds


Nicole Freidenfelds is a Visiting Assistant Extension Educator in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at UConn. She earned a B.S. in Biology at Eastern Connecticut State University and a M.S. in Natural Resources at the University of New Hampshire. In her previous role as a professional scientist, Nicole’s research mainly focused on studying the behavior, ecology and evolution of amphibians and reptiles. Later, while teaching public high school science for several years, she developed a genuine joy of working with youth. Currently, as program coordinator for UConn’s Natural Resources Conservation Academy, Nicole oversees a wide range of unique and exciting local environmental projects being conducted by teen-adult teams throughout the state. She tries to spend as much of her free time outdoors as possible – hiking, fishing, hunting, and exploring.


Kimberly Hughes


Kim is the Co-Director of a non-profit in West Hartford, root2RISE, where she works to ensure all children have access to meaningful and inclusive outdoor learning experiences. She also teaches environmental education classes at Westmoor Park, a local farm and education center, and has worked for many years to develop school programs focused on sustainability and stewardship of the land - our common ground and common purpose.   Kim gratefully acknowledges the wisdom of the indigenous peoples from their enduring connection to this land as the thread that weaves all the pieces of her work together.


Justin Kaput


Justin grew up in a small town in north central Connecticut where tractor jams related to the annual harvest of broadleaf tobacco were an annual problem.  A lifelong lover of nature, he spent his childhood days wandering through the fields, swamps, and forests behind his family’s home. This passion for nature led to a degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Maine and field work in various locations including the chaparral of Southern California and the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. He continued this focus by earning a master’s degree from the University of Illinois in environmental science with a focus on developing stewardship value in youth. Justin’s passion for sharing nature with others lead him to a career in education where he teaches high school and college level environmental science with a focus on ecological resilience and restoration ecology. He has made it his life’s work to foster ecological stewardship values in young people.  He was selected as a 2018 Grosvenor Teacher Fellow and traveled to Antarctica with National Geographic and returned to work as a naturalist in the coastal rainforest of southeast Alaska. In 2021 he was selected by the NAAEE as a CEE Change Fellow and is currently working with his students to host multi school multi day youth climate empowerment events. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his family, playing and listening to music, and exploring this beautiful planet.


Evelyn Kubik


Evelyn Kubik is an Environmental Educator at the Ansonia Nature Center. They graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and went on to do several seasons of field research, most notably working on a bluebird study in Montana. However, as much as Evelyn enjoyed the solitude of climbing up mountains at sunrise, they realized that what they really wanted was to be able to share their passion for nature with others and work to promote good environmental stewardship. Thus, they returned to Connecticut to become an environmental educator. When not hiking in the woods, Evelyn enjoys drawing, reading, and board games.


Timothy Thayer


Tim Thayer is a middle school science teacher for the town of Norwich. He earned a B.A. in Child and Youth Psychology from Eastern Connecticut State University, a MAEd in Special Education from Johnson and Wales University and a MAEd in Natural Science and Environmental Education as well as a Climate Literacy Certification from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a Certified Master Naturalist from the Friends of Goodwin Forest Conservation Center. Tim has been a teacher in the public school system for over 16 years and is a mentor teacher for new teachers in the district. Tim works to bring in outside environmental educators to expose his students to careers in the field of green jobs. He has developed a true passion to empower the youth on how to protect and preserve their environment. Tim strives to bring in more opportunities for environmental education into the public school arena. When not working Tim can be found outdoors hiking, birding, running, cycling or kayaking.

THANK YOU to outgoing 2023 Board members:

  • Laura Cisneros

  • Doris Johnson

  • Susan Robinson

Contact Us

For support, membership details, or information about volunteer opportunities, please contact one of the board members listed below.


Gustavo Requena Santos,


Evelyn Kubik,


Nicole Freidenfelds,


Gustavo Requena Santos,

Mini Grants                     

Gustavo Requena Santos,


Gustavo Requena Santos,

Green LEAF Schools   

Kimberly Hughes,


Evelyn Kubik,

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