March 8 Educator Network Spring Meet Up Features Non-Profit Leaders Borkowski and Robinson
Though Spring is officially still a few weeks away, Team WiWiC is fully embracing the flowers and mud! Join us for our annual Spring Educator Network meet up on Zoom, this Wednesday, March 8 from 10-11:30am. Cappuccino is optional, but food, kids, and messy backgrounds are always welcome on these informal virtual meet ups. RSVP for a link.
March is also Women's History Month, and we're looking forward to celebrating a few of the female Wisconsin history-makers working in conservation. For this gathering, we'll be turning our focus to some of the excellent non-profit conservation leadership in the state, hearing from Beca Borkowski, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education, and Colleen Robinson, founder of Nature's Good Company.
"I attended graduate school for environmental conservation after working with refugees fleeing resources wars in Africa and Asia. I have always been passionate about protecting nature and respecting the land, but after working with these communities I realized that natural resource protection is a necessity for global human rights. While my focus is much more localized now, I am still passionate about using conservation science to combat environmental inequities and to build resiliency against climate change in future generations. Conservation is important to me because I want to protect and expand access to natural resources, and I want to raise my sons with an ingrained sense of responsibility to the land and respect for the people nurturing it." - Beca Borkowski, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education.
"This is why I value my role within the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education so greatly. Every day I get to support environmental educators in their passion nurturing scientific curiosity in children of all ages, which will inherently create the next generation of green career champions that will try to save the world, what could be more fulfilling than that?"
Beca Borkowski has roughly 12-years' experience in nonprofit administration, working primarily with social services and environmental nonprofits in Milwaukee. Her work has always included community education aspects, including working with youth audiences, formal and informal environmental educators, community leaders, the BIPOC community, and non-english speaking refugees from Africa and Asia who were fleeing resource wars.
Beca received her M.S. in Environmental Conservation from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 2021 and her bachelor’s degree in global security, focused on natural resource security and international human rights, from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2020, completing both programs during the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
She says, "My undergraduate studies were focused on international environmental issues related to globalization, primarily how natural resource scarcity impacts international human rights, while my master's degree was focused on conservation sciences. I was inspired to learn technical skills to help the land and the people facing the greatest impacts from climate change after my time working with climate refugees from Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo. My intention with these multidisciplinary degrees is to combine my passion for human rights and natural resource management to approach conservation from an anthropological perspective, to ensure the projects I lead are culturally sensitive, and to make the science of conservation more approachable and actionable for the general public. Through my role as the Executive Director for the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education, I get to work every day to promote bonds with nature, healthy living, and environmental responsibility for the next generation of climate leaders."
Beca will kick off the March 8 meet-up by talking about the latest opportunities and resources available to conservation educators.
"Conservation education is important to me as I believe we are not separate from the natural spaces in our world. As a society we've lost touch with our inherent ways of knowing through losing meaningful connections in the outdoors. Conservation education is just one way to keep that oneness with nature alive and is an integral part of what we need to thrive in a healthy society." -Colleen Robinson of Nature's Good Company, LLC
Colleen describes herself as a continuing education student of the living Earth and someone who belongs outside. She is skilled and fulfilled in nurturing her own connections and supporting others' connections to nature. She has done this since a very young age.
Trained in environmental education and interpretation, she's worked for non-profits, state and federal government, and as owner of her Mindful Outdoor Guide company to help reawaken or newly acknowledge the deep partnership there is between humans and the more than human world. Her experience includes 1) Education Program Coordinator for the Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, Wisconsin, 2) Education and Outreach Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Forest Health Program, 3) Communications Manager for a progressive, national, non-profit called the Forest Stewards Guild, 4) Wisconsin Master Naturalist Course developer and instructor, 4) Certified Mindful Outdoor Guide and wellness business owner.
All of this contributes to her calling which she describes as: "Helping to foster reciprocity with Earth for the good of all." Colleen believes meaningful time building relationships in nature is one of the most important environmental, personal wellness, and socially responsible actions we can take."
Colleen will offer meet up participants reflections and advice on building a professional career as a woman working in conservation.
The WiWiC Conservation Educator Network is an inclusive network of conservation educators to collaboratively support each other in our conservation outreach and work.
The goal of this network, facilitated by the Wisconsin Women in Conservation (WiWiC), is to regularly connect educators who work with women farmers and landowners, to share best practices and challenges, to develop cooperative strategies for effective programming, resource sharing, and how to work most effectively together.
Together, we will amplify, support and bring together Wisconsin women farmers and landowners to collectively champion and celebrate land stewardship and conservation practices in our state. We look forward to your being a part of this unique new initiative. Anyone who works with Wisconsin women farmers and landowners, from agency and non-profit staff to educator volunteers and both men and women, are welcome to join the WiWiC Conservation Educator Network (free).
Note: If you cannot attend on March 8 but would still like to be a part of this network and be informed of future events, please email email@example.com with your name, organization/position and contact information. This spring meet-up is one of two annual such gatherings via Zoom, with the second one happening in fall, 2023.