Dear ICEC members and friends,
The recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black men and women have once again laid bare the underlying currents of racism and inequity in our communities. Systemic racism is, by its nature, pervasive. Christian Cooper’s experience while birdwatching in New York City is yet another example of how our field—conservation education—has become an exclusionary institution.
And it has become abundantly clear that ICEC must better advocate for and support inclusion of the Black community and other marginalized and disenfranchised communities in quality conservation education in Iowa if we are to be true to our work of improving the lives of children, creating healthy communities, and encouraging decision-making based on environmental and social responsibility. To our members, colleagues, and friends who experience racism, prejudice, and exclusion in this space, we commit to doing better for you and for the generations to come.
We acknowledge that we have a long road ahead. We are carefully exploring how we can most effectively use our organizational role and power to address racial inequities, both immediately and in the long-term, in a way that results in lasting, transformative changes for ICEC and the people of Iowa.
As we begin this work, we invite you to learn and grow with us. We have included just a few resources we have found helpful or have added to our reading lists. They address both systemic racism and white privilege generally and how racism manifests itself in environmental / conservation education, the natural sciences, and the outdoor recreation industry. We have also included a selection of nature writings from Black authors and poets to bring to the forefront these voices that are so frequently excluded from this field.
We are committed to piecing apart the ways we contribute to the system of racial exclusion in conservation education. In the coming weeks and months, we will be evaluating and identifying how we can build a strong foundation of inclusion in our work, and we ask you to hold us accountable to these changes. Conservation education is for everyone, for the benefit of everyone, and ICEC is dedicated to ensuring this vision is realized.
ICEC’s Executive Committee
- Racial Equity Tools: Tools, research, tips, curricula, and ideas in the work to achieve racial equity.
- Equity Resources from the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
- Podcast: Code Switch: Made for You and Me
- Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimaging the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney
- The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham
- The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors by James Mills
- Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry edited by Camille T. Dungy
- The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World edited by Alison H. Deming and Lauret E. Savoy