2022 COEEA Annual Conference

Conference Theme: "Promoting Culturally Sustaining and De-Colonized Environmental Education"

Format: 2-day in-person conference

Date: October 06th & 07th 2022

Location: Northwest Park, 145 Lang Rd., Windsor, CT


Tentative schedule:





Darlene Kascak is the Education Coordinator for The Institute for American Indian Studies and a Traditional Native American Storyteller for the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. She is a descendant of the Schaghticoke Tribe with immense passion for sharing her skills and stories. Darlene’s experience as an educator, tour guide, museum assistant and Traditional Native American Storyteller has taught her the importance of educating both young and old about the many misconceptions and stereotypes about her ancestors. Her style of teaching from a Native American’s point of view allows children and adults the opportunity to have a new understanding of Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples lives both in the past and in the present.

“As a descendant of the Schaghticoke Tribe, my passion is storytelling and sharing the rich history of the American Indian Peoples. For me, my position at the museum is not just a job. It is what I am meant to do, my purpose in life, to preserve, protect and share the true stories of the Native American people in the past and present.“


"Authentic Community Engagement in Environmental Education"

Christina Smith

President and CEO

Groundwork Bridgeport

A native of Bridgeport, Christina has lived in many places and harbors a strong passion for community development and improving the quality of life for her hometown residents. Her career has been diverse and inspiring, culminating in her opening up Groundwork Bridgeport, a local chapter of Groundwork USA. Christina believes that real change can only be achieved in partnership with the people who make up a community and the youth who will shape its future. One such project is Groundwork’s Youth Service-Learning Program, which is designed to combine classroom learning with hands-on activities in landscaping and tree planting to inspire future environmental stewards

Herb Virgo

Founder and Executive Director

Keney Park Sustainability Project

Herb Virgo is an active member of many communities across CT. Herb was the recipient of the 2021 COEEA Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Award, and is a certified Forest Practitioner and Tree Warden. Herb’s commitment to his community and nature stretches far and wide. Since creating KPSP, Keney Park has seen new life breathed into it through trail revitalization, outreach efforts, and community partnerships, a result of Herb’s strong history of community involvement work. Herb has experience working with people of all ages that come from diverse, but often underserved, communities to help build connections to nature

Vania Galicia

Community Farmer

Grow Windham

Vania Galicia-Bacilio is a 24-year-old UnDACAmented immigrant who has lived in Willimantic since she was three years old. She first began organizing when she was 16 years old through GROW Windham as part of the Windham Youth Core, which encouraged her to become more involved in the immigrants’ rights movement.

After graduation in 2020, she moved into the role of Community Farmer at Grow Windham, which she has embraced through to today. Vania works with local youth and community members to build food system resilience. Teaching others how to grow their own food and community is at the core of her work. This is paired with her continued advocacy for creating a just food system





​COEEA has always been able to keep our programs free and our conferences affordable due to our funders and sponsors.

If you are interested in supporting COEEA's work in promoting advancements in environmental literacy for all residents of Connecticut, please consider becoming a sponsor today and contact us at info@coeea.org!


Your sponsorship will help COEEA keep:


  • Supporting Green LEAF schools across the state to achieve every day environmental improvements in their school grounds and with their students

  • Offering network opportunities and free training and resources to students and environmental education professionals

  • Providing funds through Mini-Grants to locally relevant, meaningful, experiential learning projects that advance diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice in environmental education initiatives aligned with the goals of the Connecticut's Environmental Literacy Plan

  • Recognizing the hard work and dedication of deserving environmental educators and organizations with our Awards

  • Organizing our affordable Annual Conference, a great opportunity for anyone interested in environmental education  to attend workshops, learn from and be inspired by environmental education leaders, listen and share experiences and projects with like-minded, motivated professionals



COEEA award recipients are announced during the Annual Conference and the call for nominations are now open for our three award categories:

  • Environmental Educator of the Year

  • Outstanding Organization of the Year

  • Excellence in Environmental Stewardship

The COEEA Awards Action Team has updated our nomination and evaluation processes to explicitly recognize the efforts of professionals and organizations in advancing environmental literacy (as identified by our updated Connecticut's Environmental Literacy Plan) and ensuring an inclusive and equitable learning space for all people. Find more information on our Awards page.

Complete our online Nomination form and submit it on or before 11:59pm on September 04, 2022.

Any questions? Reach out to the Awards Action Team at awards@coeea.org


If you would like to propose a workshop to be offered during the conference, send an email to conference@coeea.org by August 21st with:

  • Subject line should read: "COEEA Conference - Workshop Proposal"

  • Workshop title

  • A brief description (less than 250 words) of the workshop with its goals, intended audience, experience level required, potential costs

  • Minimum & maximum number of participants

  • Length of the workshop: between 1h and 3h

  • Preferred day: afternoon October 06th / morning October 07th / EITHER

  • The contact information of the facilitator team (and affiliation if applied), including website and social media (if wanted)


Proponents will be notified about our decision by the end of August.

You can still help!

If you enjoy learning, listening, and sharing experiences with EE friends and colleagues in our Annual Conference and want to join us to make our annual event better, more engaging, and more inclusive, please contact us at conference@coeea.org. Your help would be greatly appreciated in:

  • Planning & implementing the logistics for the event

  • Seeking sponsors

  • Inviting & evaluating proposals for workshops and presentations

  • Advertising & promoting the conference

  • Collaborating & having fun with like-minded professionals