Six Local Educators Recognized

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Six Local Educators Recognized

Each year a volunteer team sits down to the task of reviewing nominations to recognize outstanding local educators from across the Columbia Basin region for their efforts in educating their students on environmental stewardship and sustainability.

“Our 2020 recipients represent a diversity of communities and backgrounds, and collectively they have made an incredibly positive impact across our entire region” said Duncan Whittick, Executive Director for the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN). “This year has been a particularly challenging one for educators, but it is heartening to see that outdoor and environmental educators are now being broadly recognized as essential to ensuring the health, resiliency, and sustainability of our students and our society.” 

CBEEN’s 2020 Awards of Excellence in Environmental Education were awarded to:

  • Indigenous Educator – Faye O’Neil (Cranbrook)
  • Primary Teacher – Jenn Doll (Cranbrook)
  • Intermediate Teacher – Anita Vibe (Nakusp)
  • Secondary Teacher – Dan Clark (Kimberley)
  • Community Educator – Darcee O’Hearn (Trail)
  • Post-secondary Educator – Carol Andrews (Castlegar)

In response to being notified of her award, community educator Darcee O’Hearn exclaimed “I cannot express how overwhelmed and proud I am to receive such an amazing compliment. To be recognized by my peers like this…I have no words other than pure gratitude!”

Primary teacher Jennifer Doll reflected that “Being given this award encourages and motivates me. I believe we need to keep creating positive learning opportunities that teach generations of people about their community, their province, their nation, and their world to ensure the future of these places are respectfully honoured. It’s important to nurture environmental literacy opportunities with caring, insightful, and fun activities.”

And from Selkirk College, post-secondary instructor Carol Andrews shared that “I love my job and my reward has always been the sharing that takes place between me and my students.  This award is a wonderful recognition from my peers and the community.”

These educators will be recognized at the provincial Classrooms to Communities Gathering on June 18th.

Nominations for the 2021 Awards of Excellence will open in January, 2021:

For more information contact Duncan Whittick, CBEEN Executive Director:


Faye O’Neil (Cranbrook) is a member of the ?aqam Community in the Ktunaxa Nation. She is the Aboriginal Education Coordinator for Southeast School District 5, and she previously worked in Delta School District as an Aboriginal Support Worker. She sits on the ?aqam Education Committee and Lands Committee, and she also has been actively engaged in supporting educators across the region by helping connect their programs and lessons with Indigenous knowledge, perspectives and land-based learning.

Anita Vibe (Nakusp) has been a leader in environmental education for many years. Her classes participate in a wide range of outdoor learning opportunities. She mentors students to understand their role as change makers and responsible caretakers of their place – community, world, earth. From learning about our watershed to hatching chicks, Anita weaves the importance of nature and the stories of those that walked the earth before us into her curriculum. Her classes have been actively involved in gardening, composting, and recycling programs within the school and the community. Her enthusiastic involvement in outdoor pursuits inspire others to engage in the many activities to connect with nature in the Columbia Basin.

Jenn Doll (Cranbrook) works everyday to inspire and educate her students and fellow teachers. She is a passionate educator who leads students to think about their everyday actions, and is affectionately known as the superwomen of recycling, reducing and worm composting. She strives to be a role model, and this has inspired her students to compost, recycle and reduce. She is also working on ensuring Indigenous ways of knowing are recognized throughout the curriculum.

Dan Clark (Kimberley) has had an impact that reaches far and wide. As an educator within the school system, he has led multi-day outdoor trips with his students at the Kimberley Alternate School (KAS). He has also worked with the Interpretive Guides Association, creating resources and training opportunities for educators. He is well versed in risk management and shares this knowledge freely with others. And he is dedicated to incorporating the First Nations Principles of Learning across his teaching practice, making the Circle of Courage a foundation for programming at KAS.

Darcee O’Hearn (Trail) loves teaching students about her experiences with nature by bringing nature to the classroom or even better, bringing students to nature. As a forester, she watched the forest come alive before her eyes, inspiring her to help others find their connection with trees through storytelling. She has been an environmental educator for many years, including delivering programs for Wild Voices. She is the award winning author of “Legends of the Forest”, a series of books that connect youth to their natural world using clever legends that help identify trees that grow in our forests and in our backyard.

Carol Andrews (Castlegar) was raised in Castlegar and has lived and worked in many communities within the Columbia Basin. She is a Registered Professional Forester and worked as a consultant across the province before becoming an instructor in the School of Environment and Geomatics at Selkirk College in Castlegar. Carol teaches that modern forestry is so much more than it used to be. Her forest technology program is a blend of core sciences (soils, ecology, engineering, geology, hydrology) and the broader social, historical, political, cultural and community values connected to forests.

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