top of page

Learning From the Best: Camp Eco.Logic

By: Ava H.

Photo from: Eco.Logic


At F(earth)er Magazine, articles are written in mind of the fact that environmental education is not prevalent in K-12 curriculums. However, with the immense battles with online learning in the 2020-21 school year, it seemed like any progress to enhance environmental curricula may be halted. Yet non-profit Eco.Logic developed this comprehensive virtual education program to enhance middle and high school students’ environmental knowledge and leadership through learning from inspiring environmental trailblazers.


Rozina, the organizer, was kind enough to offer me a complimentary spot in Camp Eco.Logic, and I will be providing my insights from the guest speakers in this six week virtual experience.


Week 1


Camp Eco.Logic started off strong with Dr. Rachel Licker, who works at the Climate & Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists as a senior climate scientist. Her work involves analyzing new ecological occurrences, assessing the societal impact of climate change, and consistently advocating for the importance of environmental science budgets and programs. Dr. Licker showcases the interdisciplinary nature of environmental work, as she breaks down environmental science to policymakers, the media, and the general public.


Dr. Licker emphasized the importance of countries like the United States helping other countries with climate change disasters, which is why initiatives like the Green Climate Fund and climate finance institutions are essential, that allow countries like the United States and Europe to contribute money in order to allocate funds to countries with growing and developing economies.


Dr. Licker addressed the fact that although volcanoes and other natural occurrences may increase Earth’s temperatures, the rapid increase of global warming is virtually entirely due to anthropogenic practices, mainly the burning of fossil fuels.


She also discussed the importance of NASA, not only for researching other planets, but by further developing knowledge of Earth. Putting 10% of their budget towards Earth pursuits, NASA develops satellites to help accurately showcase environmental phenomenons. These include identifying accurate weather forecasts, along with locating areas suffering from droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters worsened by anthropogenic climate change.


Week 2


This session students were introduced to Sareya Taylor (she/her/they/them), who is a member of the White Mountain Apache and Navajo Nation. They were the inaugural poet laureate of Phoenix, Arizona, and are currently part of the 25 under 25 UNITY youth. Taylor read us some of their amazing poems and talked about their experience starting with activism through social media. They also shared their experience with writing poetry, along with songs.


Taylor also highlighted how pursuing the arts allows them to earn a living, as Taylor is attending the Institute of American Indian Arts so they can pursue becoming a poet.


Week 3


This session’s focus was on the power of politics when it comes to environmental action. Students were introduced to Environmental Voter Project (EVP) Organizing Director Shannon Seigal. What makes EVP so unique is that it finds environmentalists that are not likely to vote, and utilizes insightful behavioral science to motivate these people into becoming environmental voters. After all, if voters are not prioritizing environmental action, how will politicians prioritize it? As Organizing Director, Seigal focuses her efforts on training volunteers to effectively convince environmental supporters nationwide to consistently partake in elections.


With Seigal’s extensive experience with grassroots, sustainability planning, and environmental education, she insightfully presented to students about her work with EVP through the usage of engaging slides and brainstorming exercises.


She talked about EVP’s utilization of predictive modelling, which is similar to social media users seeing sponsored content catered towards their personal interests. Instead of marketing a product, EVP communicates to environmentally conscious people that they need to register to vote. EVP identifies these individuals by analyzing past voting data, identifying those that have never turned out in a local election, and applies effective voting mobilization strategies to make sure these people vote. Some of these methods include going door to door to talk directly to these individuals, calling and texting people, and other techniques. However, these strategies are not only implemented amidst a presidential election. EVP strives to practice these methods for local elections as well, as politicians at the city council, state, and federal level all play an integral role in achieving effective systemic change that mitigates the climate crisis. Oftentimes votes in local elections are the most influential, which is why EVP’s addressing of all levels of elections is so vital.


What led Seigal to work for EVP was her passion for the environment that stemmed from a high school environmental science class, and later in college where she majored in Environmental Studies and was able to focus more so on the humanities and social science perspective. After graduating, it became clear to her that working on electoral politics would be an effective way to achieve environmental action.


Week 4


The focal point of this session was on the potential of art in effective environmental communication, a concept that F(earth)er’s interdisciplinary mission strives to showcase. Students were introduced to Utah Clean Energy climate strategist Jeff Busan, who just so happens to be a guitarist after work, and played some songs for the students.


Students were also introduced to Chance Thompson, a speaker, artist, and consultant in the works of creating a platform for creative resources and consultancy: Viridescent, aiming to build immersive sustainability that supports and inspires sustainability champions and hobbyists around the world. Throughout his career, he has built “one of the world’s most sustainable trade show destinations” in Utah, “generating over $1 million in zero waste impacts for nonprofits,” and “leading the global relaunch of the EIC Sustainable Event Standards” (Eco.Logic).


Thompson discussed biomimicry, the design and production of materials’ structure systems that are modeled on biological ecosystems, which looks at how animals behave in nature. This concept is relevant considering the fact that society is essentially creating biomimicry innovation inspired by nature, even though society is accustomed to dominating or improving nature. The biomimicry revolution is quite different from the Industrial Revolution and other past events. After all, biomimicry introduces an area based not on what we can extract or take from nature, but rather what society can learn from it.


Mushrooms actually have potential in the biomimicry revolution, as they are a systematic design that recycle carbon through naturally producing enzymes that are able to break down and decompose dead organisms. Although processes like this may seem miraculous, they are supposed to occur in natural ecosystems, the problem is that anthropogenic climate change has broken this system. Thus, there needs to be balance between biomimicry and how nature recycles, which calls for effective upcycling.


This is where Amy Royer, a sustainable fashion professor from Salt Lake Community College, comes in. She focuses her efforts on the power of upcycling old fashion textiles. Royer began her presentation by discussing the environmental impacts of cotton, along with the unsustainable fast fashion industry and laundry practices. She led a T shirt upcycling project for students that showed how to create a tote bag from T shirts, further emphasizing the potential that art has to help ensure environmental sustainability.


Week 5


This session started out by discussing social media’s role in environmental awareness with having Filipina environmentalist and digital strategist Kristy Drutman as a guest speaker. Believing in the power of culturally-nuanced storytelling, she launched a podcast and media series called Brown Girl Green in 2018 to interview environmental leaders invested in diversity along with shedding light on creative solutions to mitigate the climate crisis. Drutman values the power of social media that can help environmental activists, especially those in Gen Z, collectively gain more awareness on environmental issues, whether it be through a small community interested in a specific environmental niche, or a large platform by social media influencers.


She gave her own insight into what makes social media content meaningful, from making sure the message is relevant, breaking down dense academic topics, curating effective content for the specific social media platform being used, and more introductory strategies.


Week 6


To showcase the effectiveness of environmental filmmaking, students were introduced to Sanjana Sekhar, an Indian-American filmmaker and regenerative communicator focused on the intersectionalities of nature and culture. As a director and cinematographer, Sekhar strives to “amplify character-driven stories that heal our human relationships to each other and to our planet, with a specific interest in environmental justice, ancestral knowledge, and regeneration” (Eco.Logic). Her work has been used in collaboration with Girlfriend Collective, The New Yorker, Niu Raza, Getaway, and Billion Oyster Project.


Students viewed a trailer of her upcoming film that is debuting at outdoor and cultural film festivals in June and July 2021. By interviewing individuals from cultures that are often not adequately included in mainstream media, the film redefines the narrative on what it means to be outdoors.


Albert Arevelo, a community engagement professional and educator, also came to this session. His childhood helped him gain an appreciation for the outdoors, which continues to inspire his work today that is aligned with this idea. He started volunteering at a public garden and is now a volunteer manager. He gave us insight into his experience with Latino Outdoors and how they strive to use play as a form of advocacy that ensures that future generations can continue to enjoy national parks. Additionally, Latino Outdoors strives to amplify the Latino experience in the outdoors.


Adewale OgunBadejo, the Workforce Development Manager at GRID Alternatives, also spoke. He shared insights about working for the organization for over 10 years and learning about how the transition to solar and renewable energy can ensure human wellbeing and social equity. He also talked about the potential for jobs that clean energy can offer. There are six sectors within the green economy: renewable energy, green buildings, clean transportation, water management, waste management and land management. These sectors showcase the multitude of different tasks needed for clean energy, as it is not simply just installing solar panels. Although clean energy may seem more expensive, it is making the building more energy efficient which ends up saving money in the long term. He emphasized how the job sector for clean energy is growing tremendously, as in 2010 there were about 90,000 jobs in solar energy, and now there are approximately 210,000 jobs.



Concluding Thoughts


What I value most about this program is that it provides students the opportunity to hear from relevant environmental professionals from a myriad of academic disciplines to offer a deepened perspective on the interdisciplinary nature of studying the environment. Ecological work can be isolating at times, which is why listening to a myriad of passionate environmental professionals can help inspire one to learn more about the seemingly endless opportunities of climate change mitigation.


To learn more about Eco.Logic and the initiatives they have to offer, head to https://www.ecologicprograms.org/


Thank you again to Rozina for offering me this unique opportunity!!


Discussion Questions:

  • If you could talk to any of the speakers described above, who would it be and why?

  • How can inspiring environmental education programs like this be integrated in schools worldwide?

Comments


bottom of page