12 Local Educators Recognized

 In News


After a year hiatus, CBEEN’s Awards of Excellence has returned, and we are excited to celebrate 12 outstanding local educators from across the Columbia Basin region for their efforts in educating students and the public on environmental stewardship and sustainability.

“The 2022 award winners include early years, Indigenous, and community educators, along with primary and intermediate teachers. All are committed to creating opportunities for people to connect with, learn about, and learn from our amazing local environment” said Mia King, Program Manager for the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN). “We are grateful for their dedication to increasing the ecological literacy of students, professionals, and community members throughout the Columbia Basin, and for supporting outdoor and environmental learning.”

CBEEN’s 2022 Awards of Excellence in Environmental Education were awarded to:

  • Indigenous Educator – Jenna Jasek (Invermere)
  • Indigenous Educator – Lisa Moore (Revelstoke)
  • Primary Teacher – Caren Nagao (Golden)
  • Primary Teacher – Jodi Casey (Invermere)
  • Primary Teacher – Rita Corcoran (Slocan Valley)
  • Intermediate Teacher – Matt Kieller (Revelstoke)
  • Intermediate Teacher – Sarah Newton (Revelstoke)
  • Early Years Educator – Cheryl Anderson (Kimberley)
  • Early Years Educator – Evelyn Walker (Columbia Valley)
  • Community Educator – Kathy Murray (Fernie/Elk Valley/South Country)
  • Community Educator – Hailey Ross (Revelstoke)
  • Community Educator – Jade Berrill (Revelstoke)

When notified of her award, Rocky Mountain SD6 Vice Principal for Indigenous Education and Equity said, “My passion for learning about my culture and sharing knowledge with students and staff is a gift for Mother Earth. She is our greatest teacher. Outdoor education, learning about the environment and Indigenous perspectives weave together like the perfect braid. I will always be on this journey and invite others to join me. KUKSTSEMC!”

Primary school teacher Jodi Casey explained how she started delivering lessons outside: “It began with the inspiration from an outdoor conference and with some trepidation, I started taking students outside once a week through the seasons. Quickly I came to see that all children thrive and find inspiration in nature. With a few fabulous outdoor resources, it became so easy to take our learning outside for any subject through all the seasons. Now it’s my students and my favourite time in the week. We always come back rejuvenated, having shared a common experience in a fresh, new space. The possibilities are endless! With all the amazing outdoor learning and leadership in this region, I am beyond honored to receive this award.”

These educators were recognized during an awards ceremony at the provincial Classrooms to Communities 2022 Provincial Conference in Revelstoke on October 21. https://www.c2c-bc.org/annual-conference-2022

For more information, contact Mia King, CBEEN Program Manager: wildvoices@cbeen.org

Some of the 2022 CBEEN EE Award winners at the Classroom to Communities (C2C) Conference in Revelstoke, October 21. (Left to right: Patrick Robertson of C2C, Sarah Newton, Lisa Moore, Hailey Ross, Matt Kieller, Jade Berrill).


Jenna Jasek (Invermere) is the current Rocky Mountain SD6 Vice Principal for Indigenous Education and Equity. Prior to this role, Jenna has been a leader in the community, encouraging and supporting environmental education. She works closely with CBEEN to provide advice and guidance on Indigenous learning resources to share with other educators and as co-host of the “Every Child Matters Year-long Learning Challenge, and has also been an advocate locally for ensuring that the Every Child Matters movement takes root in the Columbia Valley. Jenna strives to provide her students with opportunities to explore, learn, and immerse themselves through outdoor education.

Lisa Moore (Revelstoke) is an Indigenous Education support worker with SD19. Beyond empowering SD19 students and staff to have more Indigenous based ecological knowledge, Lisa has also made Truth and Reconciliation in SD19 a welcome and desired topic thanks to her efforts. Lisa is a loving and calm educator, leaving everyone she works with (which is probably every teacher and every classroom in SD19!) feeling welcomed and inspired.

Caren Nagao (Golden) is a seasoned early primary teacher, providing students with authentic outdoor learning experiences daily. She breaks down barriers (resistance, lack of clothing) and promotes a positive mindset and understanding of outdoor experiences. Over the course of her 30+ year teaching career, Caren has provided hundreds of children (and by extension their families) with rich outdoor learning experiences and the opportunity to fall in love with our natural world. Caren celebrates and incorporates her Indigenous heritage into her teaching has the enviable ability to be both in the moment as well as intentional when she is experiencing time in nature with her students.

Jodi Casey (Invermere) has been practicing environmental education with her students for more than a decade and has generously modeled her environmental education practice to colleagues within her schools by welcoming teachers and their classes to join her in taking their teaching and learning outdoors. Jodi has had such a positive impact on the Columbia Basin by helping students develop a relationship with the land, teaching students to be stewards of the land, and demonstrating to students that through wonder and curiosity, we can connect deeply with our communities and surrounding environments.

Rita Corcoran (Slocan Valley) is a firm believer that instilling an environmental ethic from a young age has a lasting impact on people. As such, Rita has made environmental education her life’s focus. Currently, Rita has weekly class for K-3 students, immersing them in place-based learning and normalizing being outdoors. Rita is a strong believer in making space for emergent curriculum, and her confidence in plant identification, tracking, and bird ID has leveraged many emergent experiences.

Matt Kieller (Revelstoke) is an intermediate level teacher that melds outdoor education, social emotional learning, and Indigenous ways of learning with the regulars of science, socials, math, language arts, and career education. His students spend 1/3 of each day outside, whether it is to check the weather in the morning, to do science, or for journal writing. Matt personifies how valuable and possible environmental education can be and makes each day a meaningful one for the planet and his students.

Sarah Newton (Revelstoke) has been a classroom teacher for over twenty year and has always been committed to bringing her students outside to be part of nature. She often helps facilitate and lead workshops and district with Pro-D days on outdoor education and climate change education. Her field guide to local trails responded to the needs of busy teachers who want to take their classes on field trips, but don’t have time to organize the logistics. Sarah was also instrumental in coordinating the building of three outdoor classrooms in Revelstoke and organizing the 2019 Climate Action Fair, which was a student led day of education and action against Climate Change. Sarah is a wealth of knowledge and sprinkles hope and joy in all her classes.

Cheryl Anderson (Kimberley) is the manager of Purcell Preschool where she fosters a strong commitment to outdoor learning and natural curiosity. Supporting her team of educators, programs at the preschool are alive and play-centred, embracing the natural classroom of the outdoors. Purcell Preschool also has a close connection with the ?aq’am community of the Ktunaxa Nations,  and integrates Indigenous knowledge and perspectives into early years learning, further developing connections and perspectives to the land. Cheryl also was involved in the developing Kimberley’s first Forest School for ages 4-6, which is centred on outdoor and nature-based learning.

Evelyn Walker (Columbia Valley) is the lead teacher at Little Badgers Early Learning where students experience everything from ice fishing to hatching chickens! helped to establish. When Evy joined the Little Badger team, she had a dream to build a garden for the Akisqnuk Community. The Learning Garden that resulted has brought together the Akisqnuk Community and Little Badger community, with students learning first-hand about the cycle of planting and harvesting a garden.

Kathy Murray (Fernie/Elk Valley/South Country) recently retired as a WildSafeBC educator after 16 years, doing outreach with communities, residential homeowners, and school children, educating on topics of bear safety, managing wildlife attractants, and being aware of the wildlife around us. Kathy has also mentored many new WildSafeBC coordinators over the years, helping them to make connections and to maintain strong relations with stakeholders and community members to ensure effective educational messaging is delivered. Kathy’s dedication to her work has resulted in the WildSafeBC program being supported, received, and in demand from organizations throughout the RDEK, helping to keep wildlife wild and communities safe.

Hailey Ross (Revelstoke) has been the executive director of the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology (CMI) since 2013. CMI is a non-profit organization supporting people doing applied ecology with educational and professional development opportunities. Identifying needs through a network of biologists, scientists, resource managers and environmental consultants, Hailey has organized numerous professional development courses and events. She also organizes the very popular Columbia Regional Ecological Discussion (CRED) talk series, a less formal event that appeals to professionals as well as the general public. The most recent CREDtalks series included eight different speakers focusing on the theme of Climate Disruption in the Upper Columbia Basin. Beyond CMI, Hailey has also done a lot of work on the topic of food security in Revelstoke, writing the first version of Revelstoke’s Food Security Strategy in 2014, and currently working on the updated version.

Jade Berrill (Revelstoke) has experience teaching outdoor and environmental education in classrooms, school yards, and natural spaces across the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada for over 10 years! Jade also shares her wealth of knowledge and passion for environmental education through her job at the Outdoor Learning Store, whether co-hosting the Earthly Chats podcast, or delivering custom workshops to various organizations interested in improving or increasing the environmental education in which they are involved with delivering. By providing support networks for teachers and other educators, Jade is helping to grow the outdoor education community.

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