ACES Educators Reflect on Environmental Education Work During COVID-19

ACES Staff

June 1, 2020

ACES Educators Reflect on Environmental Education Work During COVID-19

While the past few months have been different than normal, with new challenges have also come bright opportunities. Read below for ACES Senior Educators’ reflections on their experiences with environmental education during a pandemic.

From Denali Barron, ACES Senior Educator at Aspen Elementary School

“The ACES education team has been a steadying force for me during this very unusual spring. We have worked together to stay focused on providing the content we can provide in an equitable, relevant, fun, and scientific way. And, from phenology projects to remote games of camouflage, nest-building challenges to class experiments with bud burst, virtual campfires and farm tours to competitions predicting summer streamflow, I’m proud of what we have produced. While figuring out how to teach in a totally new way, we have also moved towards a shared understanding of how ACES curriculum must evolve to align with the Next Generation Science Standards and we have collaborated across all levels of our team to start making that a reality. We continue to support each other in times of great uncertainty, trusting our ability to adapt, being kind to ourselves and our communities during these painful transitions, and planting seeds of positive change.”


From Carly Dominick-Sobol, ACES Senior Educator at Basalt Elementary School

“The transition to the remote learning experience during COVID-19 was abrupt and unexpected. In March, we began to react to the needs of the students that we teach, in a way that we had never interacted before. The only way I can describe the last two months is this: a learning experience. I have learned that meaningful connections can be made through a virtual platform, that flexibility and positivity are two of the main characteristics I find in my coworkers, and that creating opportunities to spark curiosity for all age levels are a communal experience. The last two months of the Basalt Elementary school year have been memorable. I am grateful that as each day brought a new change, the spring season paralleled these changes with its natural blooms and rhythms. Now, more than ever, I have found comfort in nature.”

From McCale Carter, ACES Senior Educator at Crystal River Elementary School

“The past two months have been a whirlwind of change and growth. Adapting the way we teach, and losing out on time with our students has been difficult, and frustrating at times. With that said, the silver linings are still shining through the brightest, especially when it comes to the environmental education and ACES communities. I’ve always known that my career is a part of something much bigger, but in the past few weeks it has been so apparent how much we all want each other to succeed. From weekly collaboration with our direct ACES team, to webinars with people from around the country, the amount of support felt during this crazy time will strengthen our resolve in environmental conservation for years to come. I am ending this school year feeling truly inspired by those who I share a profession with!”



From Kitty Winograd, ACES Sustainable Agriculture Education Specialist at Crystal River Elementary School

“Teaching during the time of COVID-19 at Wamsley Elementary School (WES) in Rifle, Colorado, meant teaching environmental lessons through video uploads. The third, fourth, and fifth grade students were only who I imagined them to be because I never had the chance to meet them. This disconnect made me realize the deep value and joy that meeting children face-to-face brings to my experience as an educator. Teaching during the pandemic also highlighted the dedication WES and its teachers have to their students, as well as the energy they mustered and maintained to make sure their students felt supported and cared for–energy and dedication that was also directed toward and felt by me. Though I did not meet the students, I met their homeroom teachers–women who made me feel supported, too. Their appreciation for and excitement in delivering ACES lessons on wetland ecology and animal life cycles to their students helped me in my goal of teaching their students about the natural world. The partnerships that ACES Ed creates with schools like WES have held despite these isolating times, revealing the strength created through these ties, and the dedication to teaching environmental responsibility on both sides.”

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