AEEA is excited to welcome four new members to the AEEA Board of Directors. The new individuals represent a range of interests, backgrounds and regions of the state.
Michael Barger, education coordinator with Keep Arkansas Beautiful, brings two decades of environmental education experience from Alaska, California, and Colorado. He has a love for the arts and the natural world. Michael advocates for volunteerism and conservation, and he has brought that enthusiasm and experience back to his home state.
“I’m a 7th generation Arkansan who has spent most of my career educating in the National Parks. Coming back to Arkansas in the last few years and getting to teach specifically about litter state-wide has been an honor. I’d love to serve AEEA to see the variety of environmental education efforts continue to blossom across our state.”
Elena Rubino, PhD, assistant professor of conservation social science from the University of Arkansas at Monticello strives to foster, in her classroom and research, an appreciation for and better understanding of the environment among her students and the greater public. Elena’s experience in higher education, conservation social science research expertise, and network of conservation and natural resource-related professionals will support and connect environmental educators throughout the state.
“…I believe educating people of all ages about environmental issues is crucial to a well-informed public and healthy planet. I see environmental education as a means of simultaneously developing the public’s scientific literacy and environmental/stewardship ethic, both of which are very much needed in today’s society…”
Amelia Southern-Uribe, director of the southeast chapters of Zero Hour Arkansas/This is Zero Hour and a University of Arkansas student is busy. Amelia is not only pursuing two college degrees, she is also leading a generation of Arkansans with her environmental advocacy.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed Amelia that one common thread persisted: non-white communities consistently suffer disproportionately from environmental catastrophes. This realization became the driving force behind her advocacy. As a response, she founded the campus chapter of This is Zero Hour, known as Zero Hour Arkansas, with the aim of providing a platform for young activists and organizers. The mission is to empower individuals to take concrete action against environmental injustice.
“…Growing up in a Colombian immigrant household, I witnessed the challenges faced by Latine communities. These experiences instilled in me a sense of responsibility to advocate for not only myself but also for my communities.”
Grant Williams, sustainability manager for Goodwill Industries studied sustainability at the University of Central Arkansas while he grew the Green Bear Coalition. The student-led group developed impactful projects, community collaborations, and an initial sustainability plan valued at $125,000 from Coca-Cola as a project campus.
Grant leads the sustainability initiatives for Goodwill Industries of Arkansas where they specialize in the reverse logistics of consumer goods thereby diverting millions of pounds monthly from landfills. He also is working toward a personal goal to create a more resilient food system in Arkansas.
“I’m interested in bringing my background as an educator, researcher and recent business experience to develop compelling educational projects that drive sustainable growth in Arkansas.”
Board members dedicate their time and expertise on a three-year term. While experience as an educator is not necessary, passion for supporting environmental and outdoor education is a must. AEEA Board and staff are looking forward to working with these new Board members as they bring their unique perspectives and knowledge to the AEEA leadership team.
Visit the AEEA Leadership Team page to read longer bios and learn more about all of our board members.