Sustainability Leadership Journey with Avery and Heather

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AveryAvery Deboer-Smith and Heather Leschied recently attended the Sustainability Leadership Journey in South Africa with support from CBEEN’s Professional Development Bursary Program. The journey offered them a rare opportunity to engage together, with other participants, around the key issues affecting sustainability around the world. The focus was not on these issues, but on the role we, as environmental educators play inside these key issues. They learned how we can ensure our thinking is good, our decisions are good, our actions are good, and our outcomes are good in order to be more effective change agents.

They maintained a blog of their trip which you can find here:

“Much of my environmental education programs focus on teaching participants what to do, how to respond, steps to take, and concepts to consider when it comes to watershed sustainability. I will use the new tools available to me to change my approach in a way that supports people to think for themselves with rigour, imagination, courage and grace. It is through this thinking that we can most certainly develop the innovative, collaborative and genius ideas that we need to address the key issues affecting sustainability at home and around the world. It is a simple thing, but it can make all the difference.” – Heather Leschied

“This event really inspired me to host one similar in Canada. I feel the importance of acknowledging not only environmental sustainability but personal sustainability is paramount for the long-term integrity of many non-profits. How can we achieve a balance between personal and work while still feeling like ourselves? How and to who do we reach out to in the community if we are going through a difficult time? How can we be mentored and mentor at the same time? These are questions that I would like to continue focusing on in my personal time so that I may help bring them into the lives of so many inspiring individuals around me who I see working so hard for the greater good of our environment that they often forget to look after themselves.” – Avery Deboer-Smith

A few key ideas they took away from this experience include:

  1. Reflective practice: This process taught us to reflect on experiences in our work place to generate deeper learning, to construct enhanced meaning and to look at these experiences with different perspectives. We achieve this by using some foundation resources such as; Kolb’s experiential learning cycle & learning styles, Borton’s model of reflection and free style journaling used to reduce stress and improve cognitive function.
  2. Mindfulness: We approached mindfulness from the perspective of enhancing productivity in the work place. We practice awareness, acceptance and focusing on being present so that we can improve our efficiency, focus and how and how much joy and happiness we bring into our work and relationships.
  3. Creating a thinking environment for others: For this we focused on Nancy Kline’s work around the principles: The quality of everything we do depends on the quality of the thinking we do first and the quality of our thinking depends on the way we treat each other while we are thinking.

Heather & Avery recommended the following links to resources for educators in the Columbia Basin:

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