June 5th, 2020 – A Message To Our Communities:

We continue to meet weekly and you can find updates, notes, additional action items, at the end of this post.

Last week our team reflected on the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of systemic racism and police violence. This week, we have decided what we will do.

We are committed to creating an anti-racist, inclusive, and diverse environmental education field; committed to addressing eco-injustice that disproportionately impacts people of color. We pledge to continue engaging and listening about this, collaborating with diverse stakeholders, measuring, and analyzing inequities, publishing, designing inclusive innovative programming, and training our staff who reach 12,000 people annually. For Wisconsin, there were over 1.1 million participant days in environmental education in 2019, which means 1.1 million opportunities to impact someone’s perception of the natural world and only half of the environmental education organizations conduct training on diversity, equity, and inclusion (Hougham et al., 2020). Only half are consciously training their teams to bring equity and inclusivity to their teaching. 1.1 million opportunities every year. Upham Woods and other organizations in this field have the power to make a difference – so we must.

We will:

  1. Convene environmental educators across the state to a reflective discussion on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our field. We will organize a Zoom call in July.
    • We plan to seek the input of and invite:
      • Teachers in the Wisconsin school system with a focus on Milwaukee
      • The Wisconsin Association of Environmental Education
      • University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Natural Resources Institute
      • You can sign up here.
  1. Host a public in-person diversity, equity, and inclusion training this fall or winter (pandemic permitting).
  2. Create a resource list on our website that addresses these issues in environmental education.
  3. Lead a status and needs assessment of environmental education organizations in Wisconsin that addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  4. Grow this action list as we learn and reflect.

Lastly, we pose two questions that we plan to discuss at the July meeting:

  1. How does our industry perpetuate racism and injustice?
  2. How has the history of environmental education determined access and inclusion today?


As we prepare for these important and challenging conversations, we will consider where our understanding is on this topic and how our identities intersect with this issue. We encourage you to as well. Participate and hold us accountable. Click here to join an email group that will continue this conversation and convene in July. You can also sign up directly for the July discussion here.


Justin Hougham

Director of Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center

Associate Professor, Environmental Education Specialist

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension


June 12th, 2020

We continue to meet on this issue weekly. On June 12th, we brainstormed the action we can take in our professional roles to build an anti-racist Upham Woods. We defined anti-racist as actively intervening and preventing racism in our society.

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