Each year, the overall NSW Environmental Educator of the Year Award is presented to one person who has made an exemplary contribution to the field of environmental education. It had been a long wait for some of our award winners, as the announcement for overall award winner was held until the conference, as is the tradition, which then had to be postponed until this year due to Covid.
So we were thrilled to finally share that announcement at our dinner function for the 35th Environmental Education Conference, and it was wonderful to have our patron, Costa Georgiadis there to celebrate with us.
It was a great honour to announce Lisa Siegel as the 2021 NSW Environmental Educator of the Year Award.
As Sue Martin, AAEE NSW President shared, “Lisa is a trailblazer and a champion of youth as the future custodians of our world. She is known and beloved for her dedication to nature, to humanity and to humans as nature in her many spheres of influence. She breaks new ground in difficult territory, including our own awards where she gave the judges a terrible time by winning not one, but two categories! She was the winner of the 2021 NSW Community Educator of the Year Award and the Tertiary Educator of the Year Award.”
Lisa is an enabler in the community of environmental educators, and works to elevate the voices of others. She was instrumental in helping a group of students establish Bellingen Environmental Youth Experience (EYE) in 2007, which was a youth-led environmental education and nature connection group based around wilderness camp experiences. Lisa has mentored hundreds of young people and helped facilitate local action groups, such as Plastic-Free Bellingen and Youth Against Plastic, Bellingen Shire Learning Alliance, Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub, Eco Outings, Eco Workshops, NatureConnect camps, Nature Play Mentor Training, Waste not Bellingen, Composting Workshops, Wild Camps and Young Naturalists Club. Lisa co-founded the not-for-profit, registered charity group CEL (Centre for Ecological Learning). Lisa has always maintained a strong focus on youth-led activism. Whether it was facilitating a meeting between the teens and their hero Bob Brown, arranging for them to take part in youth-led climate action in Sydney, or supporting their campaign fundraising to make Bellingen a plastic-free town. Hundreds of local young people who attended the Youth Experience and CEL’s weekend bush camps continue to reach out and keep in contact with Lisa, years and decades later. Many have written attesting to the critical influence of EYE or CEL’s camps as the force behind their decision to study environmental tertiary degrees or dedicate themselves as activist campaigners on climate and social justice.
Lisa Siegel is now an Associate Lecturer and Doctoral Candidate at SCU. She has been instrumental in the move to make environmental education a core subject for all education students at the university, not just an elective. Lisa has been part of the organising committee for two national AAEE Research Symposiums. She also co-facilitated a workshop at the 20th AAEE Research Symposium in 2018, which resulted in a published article in the Australian Journal of Environmental Education. Lisa is in the leadership team of the Sustainability, Environment, and Arts Education (SEAE) Research cluster at SCU, and has presented her academic work nationally and internationally. She was the recipient of the Higher Degree Research award for Best Publication in both 2018 & 2019 for her publications relating to waste education and pro-environmental behaviour.
Congratulations to Lisa, thank you to those who nominated her, and to those who have supported her to become an exemplary environmental educator.