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2023 COEEA Annual Conference

Date: December 09th 2023

Location: Common Ground High School, 358 Springside Ave. New Haven, CT



You can also request a scholarship support during registration! Through our conference scholarship program, COEEA fully subsides professionals, classroom teachers, students, and anyone else interested in advancing environmental literacy for all residents of Connecticut to attend our conference free of charge.

If you would like to support our sponsorship program and sponsor a fellow EE to attend our event, you can make a contribution at the end of your registration. Rest assured that your contribution will be allocated to those like-minded individuals to make our conference bigger, stronger, and more plural! Any contribution is welcome and appreciated, no matter the value.

Registration includes access to the workshops and networking events throughout the conference. Boxed lunch, snacks, and refreshments will be provided.

As a registered participant, you will also have the opportunity to submit your best Outdoor & Environmental Education picture to our Annual Photo-Contest. Share your special 2023 moments with our community and take a chance to win prizes!




9:00 - 10:30 am

Using Project Learning Tree to Promote Forest Literacy

Beth Bernard - Connecticut Forest & Park Association

Do you want to support the environment, health, and economy of your community by promoting forest literacy? Learn how to include forest literacy in your programs by using Project Learning Tree (PLT). PLT is an award-winning environmental education program aligned with NGSS learning standards and designed for classroom teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. This interactive workshop will explore many of the new PLT resources on topics including forest literacy, climate change, urban forests, green jobs, and more. In 2017, PLT partnered with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc., an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the future of our forests and promoting sustainable forest management. We will review PLT's Forest Literacy Framework and discuss ways to integrate forest literacy into your educational efforts. This is a great update for those who have attended PLT workshops in the past, and is also appropriate for someone new to PLT.

Environmental Education Messaging

Nicole Freidenfelds & Gustavo Requena Santos - COEEA

How can we most effectively talk about the value of environmental education, in a way that resonates with members, potential members, supporters, and partners? Participants in this workshop will learn how to apply NAAEE's recently revised messaging platform to better reach their target audience. Are you interested in... Donor communication? Talking points for a new initiative? Social Media campaign? Annual report letter? Media interview? Grant application? Start thinking about what YOU would like to create. Each participant will begin building their own communication piece, using the new NAAEE messaging tool, during this active-participation workshop.

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

How to Use Indigenous History to Create a Brighter Future

Darlene Kascak - Institute for American Indian Studies

Darlene Kascak is the Education Director at The Institute for American Indian Studies, a Traditional Native American Storyteller for the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, and a member of the Schaghticoke Women’s Traditional Council. 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. Darlene joined the task force to advise the Connecticut State Department of Education in creating the new Native American studies model curriculum for Connecticut.


In this workshop, participants will learn how the Quinnetukut's Indigenous people interacted with and shaped their environment, keeping things in balance for over 12,000 years. Indigenous people are raised to view the world differently. At an early age, they are taught through oral traditions to respect all living things as equals with the same rights as human beings. From one generation to the next, as they learn by doing and experiencing, relationships with the land and its resources are developed and nurtured to ensure that future generations can enjoy all the gifts the land offers. Sharing this traditional knowledge in the classroom empowers the next generation of students to view things in a different way, bringing about the much-needed change we need to heal this land and our relationships with other living beings.

Institute for American Indian Studies - LOGO.jpg


​A panel of youth representing initiatives across Connecticut shared their stories of success and challenge in organizing in their community to advance environmental literacy & climate education, and fight environmental injustices. Attendees had the opportunity to learn more about these amazing local initiatives and had an open discussion on how we, as an Environmental Education community, can leverage our expertise, experience, and resources to better support their work.


  • Suffield High School's Sustainability Council - Keila Silva

         "Keila Silva is deeply committed to championing environmental justice. She has worked

          alongside professionals across Connecticut and Massachusetts in order to further equita-

         ble distribution of resources along with education to minority communities. Keila has made

         transformative strides over the past two years within her community through her partner-

         ships with Uconn's Natural Resources and Conservation Academy, CT Dept. Energy & Envi-

         ronmental Protection, CT Land Conservation Council, the Western Mass Youth Climate Leader-

         ship Program, CT Forest and Parks Association, and local community partners"

  • Avon High School Climate Action Club - Anagha Bhumireddy

         "Anagha Bhumireddy is a senior at Avon High School and is the co-founder and co-president

          of her high school’s Climate Action Club. She has pioneered the Food Waste Diversion (FWD)

          program, allowing students to digest food waste into fertilizer to be used on school grounds.

         Anagha is the first student member of the Avon Clean Energy Commission where she advoca-

         tes for her generation at events and organizes many community programs"

  • New Haven Youth & Recreation Department - Sydney Collins

         "Sydney Collins is a Park Ranger with the City of New Haven’s Department of Youth & Recreation.

          She is currently based at the Trowbridge Environmental Center in East Rock Park, but also engages

          with all the extensive parks system in the city. New Haven's Park Rangers work to promote nature-

          based programming for all residents and youth. In this new role, Sydney hopes to build relationships

          etween the city's parks and the community to uplift climate education and social justice"

  • New Haven Climate Movement - Rosie Hampson

         "Rosie Hampson is a senior at Wilbur Cross High School and has been involved with the New

          Haven Climate Movement as a youth activist since 2021. Rosie's current involvement centers

          around facilitating the weekly meetings of their climate education committee, where they are

         campaigning the New Haven Board of Education to follow through with commitments regar-

        ding the integration of  climate education, waste reduction initiatives, healthy transportation

         options, and energy efficiency into New Haven Public Schools"

  • Connecticut Sierra Club - Shawn Gregory

        "Shawn Gregory is a senior at Wilton High School and a board member of the Sierra Club – CT.

        He advocates for the protection of underserved communities from further environmental devasta-

        tion, particularly the harmful health effects of PFAs, industrial chemicals that are heavily concentra-

        ted in low-income and BIPOC communities. Shawn has organized anti-PFAs roadshow across CT

        generating support for enhanced regulations, while also advocating against other harmful environ-

        mental policies, such as the proposed fossil fuel-dependent renovation of the Capital Area System

       in Hartford"



​To better connect like-minded attendees during our conference this year, we are dedicating some time for networking in affinity groups. Attendees that share a common interest or lived experience can tap on that commonality to discuss potential collaborations, celebrate their successes, or even organize for the future. Our goal is to further foster an environment for authentic connections and learn from you how COEEA can best support our diverse community of Environmental Educators.

Confirmed groups:

  • Green LEAF Schools (Kim Hughes - COEEA)

  • Conversations with the Connecticut State Department of Education (Cheryl Tokarski - CSDE)

  • Climate Change Education in CT (Susan Quincy - CT-DEEP)

  • Supporting Youth-led initiatives in Environmental Justice & Education (Justin Kaput - COEEA)

  • Environmental Education Through Arts (Cyril May - Better World Magic)

Affinity Groups



​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!


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

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 Your help would be greatly appreciated in:

  • Planning & setting up the event

  • Seeking sponsors

  • Advertising & promoting the conference

  • Collaborating & having fun with like-minded professionals
You can help
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