Fall Conference Reflections

 By Chief Naturalist Anthony Escobedo

Each year that I attend conferences, I always gain something new: a new teaching technique, a new plant I’ve learned to identify, a new friend. This year I was fortunate to attend two conferences, the Environmental Education Association of Indiana conference at Camp Mack in Milford, and the North American Association of Environmental Education in Spokane, Washington.

At the top of Spokane Mountain

At the top of Spokane Mountain

One recurring topic at both conferences was the importance of hope and positivity in chaotic and stressful times. That message really resonated with me. Seeing all the different people doing amazing things all over the world, you have hope. Hope that everyone will have an opportunity to have a profound experience in nature and that one day people will see themselves as a part of nature.

While in Washington on a field trip up Spokane Mountain, I met Jenna Gatzke, who is the Coordinator of the Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center in Wisconsin. I was surprised when I found out that Jenna began as a Dunes Learning Center Naturalist! Her DLC experience is what inspired her to do this kind of environmental education work. It’s great to learn that the next generations of environmental educators are arriving through groups like Dunes Learning Center.

Jenna Gatzke and Anthony Escobedo

Jenna Gatzke and Anthony Escobedo

All in all, the greatest part I took away from this year’s conference wasn’t something new; rather it was a renewal. The renewal of inspiration to continue to do the life changing work that we do everyday at Dunes Learning Center, a renewal to continue to inspire people to imagine, question, and explore. My insatiable desire to connect people to their environment is now stronger than ever, and I’m so grateful to be with an organization like Dunes Learning Center.


Anthony Escobedo

Chief Naturalist

(In character during the Walk through Time)