Greetings, everyone! Within me burns an undeniable passion, one that, if given the chance to present a TedTalk, would be the basis of my message. It began when several educators reached out to me sharing that their districts wouldn't provide funding for their professional learning opportunities this year.
Let's begin with a question posed by the renowned poet Mary Oliver: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" The year 2020 brought us all to a standstill with a global pandemic, prompting my husband and me to reflect on this very question. That soul-searching led to the birth of "Expeditions in Education," a mission with a simple yet profound goal: to connect students, educators, and the United Nations Global Goals with the transformative power of nature. We firmly believe in nature's ability to heal and inspire, even in these challenging times. Where did we find our inspiration? In our favorite classrooms: the national parks!
A few years down the road, our efforts have touched the lives of over 3.7 million individuals. Yes, you heard that right. Our initial mission to change the world ended up changing us, revealing our true purpose, passion, and life's mission. Bringing students and teachers into nature makes them part of a larger narrative, instilling a deep connection to the environment and a sense of responsibility for our planet's future.
One of our most shining achievements is "STEAM in the PARK," an event that embodies our mission to bring educators from across the nation to national parks, fostering connection, collaboration, and creative inspiration. However, we now face a significant challenge: educators are finding it hard to secure funding for our "STEAM in the PARK" adventures. The struggle for funding grows more daunting each day. Even reputable platforms like Donors Choose have closed their doors to professional development applications for now, and many school districts are cutting off access to these invaluable resources. This raises a critical question: Why do we continue to demand more from educators while providing them with less and less support?
Our plea goes beyond securing funds for "STEAM in the PARK"; it encompasses acknowledging the significance of all valuable professional development opportunities. We have an unwavering belief in our mission, and we go to great lengths to aid applicants in securing funding for our programs. It is our responsibility to stand by educators, the individuals who are shaping our future, and facilitate their journey. While my husband and I are fully committed to creating these opportunities for educators, we require support in securing the necessary funding to make it happen. We must explore avenues to inspire school districts to back their educators, engage communities in assisting educators with professional learning opportunities, and encourage corporate America to contribute, leveraging their capacity to make a difference.
In today's noisy world, the stories that truly matter often go unheard. Our newsfeeds are filled with politics and disputes, drowning out the stories that need to be heard. But rest assured, we hear them. We don't just listen; we actively respond to our educators through emails, texts, messages, Zoom meetings, phone calls, and sometimes, walking through their school door, and meeting them in nature. Their struggles resonate deeply with us. Our connections are profound and enduring, driven by an unwavering passion to make a real difference.
Now is the time to amplify our voices above the noise. I implore each of you with a voice to support your schools, find ways to make educators feel valued, and collaborate with local districts to secure meaningful professional development opportunities. Let educators say, "Wow, they truly care about me."
In conclusion, our mission at Expeditions in Education is crystal clear: we want every student to "BE GOOD HUMANS," ensure that every educator "FEELS VALUED," and help goodness shine through the noise. It's time to revolutionize education and make a genuine impact on those who mold our future. Thank you for being here, and let's work together to create a brighter, more inspired world for our children and educators.
Thanks for coming to my online TedTalk!