Field Chats Episode 003: The Environmental Action Civics Roadmap

Field Chats: EAC Essentials
Field Chats: EAC Essentials
Episode 003: The Environmental Action Civics Roadmap

In this episode, our Program Team shares the Environmental Action Civics Roadmap. 

The Roadmap is a tool you can use to assess where you’re at in your EAC journey and the possibilities to delve deeper. 

Download your copy here!


 Hey everyone, my name is Sarah Jennings, one of the program managers at Earth Force. Welcome to Field Chats Environmental Action Civics Essentials, Episode 3. So I’m here with my incredible staff, Taylor. Hello, yeah, hi, Taylor here, Colorado Program Manager with Earth Force. Hi everybody, Alyssa McConkey, Chief Program Officer at Earth Force.

And special shout out to Hayley Valley, our Communications Manager all the way to Arizona, surviving this heat right now. Hayley’s behind the scenes helping us put all this together. She’s wonderful. So today we’re talking about a roadmap. So I figured we would start off talking about what kind of road tripper you guys are.

I know I’ve been on a lot of different road trips. It’s one of my favorite activities, actually. And you know, I’ve been on road trips alone and I’ve been on road trips with other people and it’s very different experiences. So Taylor, what kind of road tripper are you? Do you have any good stories? Oh, no stories.

Recently, we went to Albuquerque for a family reunion with our four year old. And so I think we try and plan, but end up just flying by the seat of our pants most of the time. So we made it through. Road trips with a four year old. We made it. We made it. Lots of good snacks. Oh, for sure. Snacks and entertainment, right?

That’s for all, all road trips, period. I am a planner for sure, but I also I’m kind of like structural road trip planner, but then go with the flow. It’s kind of my life motto to like put some plans and goals in place and then ride the waves, right? So definitely that’s my kind of style for a road trip and I do have a good road trip.

Yeah, that really resonates, Alyssa. I think I, I used to plan a lot and then I’ve just found so much more fun and adventure when you’re just like, I know where I’m going. I’ll figure out where I’m staying and what, what the next day is, but I, I have at least a little bit of structure and a lot of flexibility.

So, and I think that really pertains to, right, to the roadmap to environmental action civics and letting that adventure kind of unfold in front of you. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’re here to get started. With Environmental Action Civics. And if you’re new to this, this space and this new field chat, well, welcome.

And I’ll tell you that Environmental Action Civics is a really unique approach where young people are working in partnership with, with adults to identify local environmental issues and engage community members to take action by advocating for systemic changes to environmental policies or practices.

So that’s a little bit more about the work that we do at Earth Force and the fields that we are helping to develop. And so to support this new field, we’re, we’ve developed a tool, and this is the Environmental Action Civics Roadmap. So this really provides scaffolds that will help you get to environmental action.

And Taylor is going to tell us more about those key pieces and how this roadmap is really helpful at breaking down the experiences and the outcomes that we have found through research support environmental citizenship. So you can find this link to this tool in our transcripts and in the blog post.

It would be helpful for you to, to kind of look at while we’re chatting, but if you want to look at it after too, that’s, that’s great. Good to have a visual and we hope you follow along with us today, learning about how this resource can help you get started. Taylor, do you want to tell us more about these key experiences and the different sections in the roadmap?

Absolutely. So those of you who are just listening in, I’ll kind of help describe. resource, this document. So the key elements kind of exist in three categories. So imagine a large table and on the left side, you’ve got these three sections. Each one is the issue. Second one is experiences, and the last is civic components.

And so with the issue. That’s a simple one. It just has this component of the issue, and as you go from the left to the right, it kind of, kind of shows you where you’re trying to go. And so in the beginning, you might not have a clear issue, but you’re still working around it. But then all the way on that logical extension, that what you’re really trying to get at with the issue is identifying something that reflects youth lived experience, interest, and community needs.

Like, that would be a stellar issue to kind of set on this road map with your student groups. And then this experience piece kind of has four separate components which kind of really dives into the Earth Force process, which you’ll learn about more, but the skills required for those experiences and those key elements really center around youth at all partnership.

Kind of that shared power that is related to kind of some of the, the project and, and task management elements so that you’re really co creating everything along the way. So sharing that power both in decision making as well. So having this youth voice be really at the center. So all the decisions were made as a group with all voices considered, you know, using discussion and deliberation.

So that a true consensus is really held. And so that like shared responsibility is a really key experience. As well as this last one, which is kind of my favorite kind of this community engagement piece. So, not only are students and educators working together to decide. Share responsibility and power.

But those groups are also engaging with the surrounding community members. So that’s could be organizations or individuals that surround or are impacted by the issue that they selected on. And we really encourage students to work with, you know, three or more community members or organizations to engage, gain different perspectives, gain more expert level information.

A lot of the times those individuals, those students engage with are your resource professionals or individuals who have already been working on this issue. And so with that engagement, it really helps students create strategies, which this kind of leads into this next piece. So with all that information and collective action and collective sharing of power that students and those individuals that they work with can really create some strategies that create sustainable and impactful and effective solutions.

Which then leads me to the last piece, which is the action and the impact, which is that civic component that we’re really striving for and really with the, the action we, or environmental civic action, we’re really hoping students engage in a, in a form of policy and community practice change approaching decision makers and, and asking for that change is really what environmental action civics is kind of at its core, but there’s so many other strategies students engage with.

It could be such big, you. Or small. So I really like that. And then ultimately, the action is aimed to create that long term systemic change that addresses those environmental issues that they selected. So it’s, it’s such a unique process. And I really love working with my other staff members because everyone has a different perspective.

You always get to the It’s the end of the road in a different way. Each community is different, each set of students is different. So that is the fun part of this because we kind of need to work together to understand, well, where do you need to go with your students or your community? So thanks Taylor. That was awesome. And I feel like I want to like zoom out on those experiences and the kind of scaffolding of them a little bit and just think so, so this roadmap, you can kind of think of like Taylor said, like a table, it’s kind of like a, a rubric too.

Right. It’s a way, like you could use this to think about like where. Where am I on the continuum of environmental action civics? What are the key components that I’m nailing? What are the components that I can work on with my young people and such with the ultimate goal of getting to environmental change in our local communities while sharing responsibility and decision making powers with young people. So in this like rubric table, you know, as, as Taylor went through all of those things, I’m just going to zoom out and just say, we want young people and educators and adults to be working together to define a problem in their local community to work on solving. That’s that issue piece, right? And the experiences we want them to have. We want them to work in in youth adult partnerships. We want there to be project and task management that is shared. We want shared decision making. We want that community engagement and we want those long term actions, those civic components and an impact that is aimed at creating systemic change, right?

And so We’re not all going to get to all of those pieces all the time and all at once. Like sometimes it’s gonna, it’s gonna take us, you know, we’re like, maybe we can’t do the entire earth force process to get to environmental action civics, or maybe maybe we just don’t have capacity. We have one class, but we are really interested in focusing on youth little partnerships or more shared decision making.

Right. So we can also use like, while this roadmap, Yeah. can be sort of a, a way for us to try to create the best process that we can of environmental action civics. It’s also a way to identify some key experiences and try to pull those out and then say like, so I’m hoping that y’all are like actually looking at the roadmap right now, but if you’re not look at it later, but you’ll see there’s kind of this beginning, this getting there and this environmental citizen space where we’re saying like.

You know, if you’re just getting started, this is maybe what it’s going to look like. And if you’re a little further along in your, you know, your. You’re really working on some pieces. Then you’re going to be like getting there. And the environmental citizen category is really saying this is what, you know, a gold star earth force process towards environmental action civics looks like.

And so think about on that line, right? Like where you can, like where you can pull in these pieces, where you are and where you want to go. Right. And Sarah, I feel like you have this great idea of how that. Like, you know, we’re talking kind of conceptually right now, but in, I love the language you like to use a kind of an analogy to help people think about.

You know this in a true like road happy kind of way Yeah, I mean when I think about a map that I’m kind of a map geek I once did a road trip across the country where I only used maps and this is Not that long ago when I could have used Google Maps But like with any map, you know you have to make decisions and you have to make decisions together with everyone in your car, right and You know, there could be a better turn than than the next.

Right. But you don’t have to take all the turns. And I just wanted to kind of Non to what you were saying about those scaffolds to write, like, if you know, you have so much gas in the car, right? You only have so much money then you’re going to have to take this this road, right? And you might only get to I’m getting there or I’m beginning environmental action, civics or right?

And that’s okay. And so I just did to want to name, like, between curriculum constraints and budgets and time, right? All of those things need to be like packed up on this journey with you. And you can use what I love about the road map is you can use it to scaffold your experience as well. So really look at the experiences that we have found through research are needed to get to environmental citizen. But then also look at and say reality is I only have the, you know, the time and the capacity and the funds to, to work on these specific pieces and be really good at youth adult partnerships right now, you know, or know that I’m going to work with three plus community members, but I’m not going to be able to have my students, you know, choose the issue.

Like, I have to do that this time around. So just being honest of, of where you’re at in this map. And so continuing with that analogy, I really do love, love this, this idea as a roadmap and in thinking of Earth Force as your pit crew, right? Like, as I was kind of drawing this all out, I have us, us in the middle really supporting, giving that specialized support when, when needed.

And so definitely rely on us as you’re, you’re taking this journey. One of the things I like to think about that is so foundational in this roadmap is who is driving the car, the young people are right. And for anyone who has some young people who are getting their permits. This can be really scary, right?

Like I coach middle school soccer and all of a sudden they started driving themselves, or at least with their parent in the car to practice. It’s like, whoa, I better get outta the way. But really building off that trust in that self-efficacy in the young people who are in the driving. Seats, right.

With their peers. Mm-hmm. . Yes. So you have this facilitator in your passenger seat. That could be your educator or someone in the afterschool space, whoever that is, who’s really that main point of contact. And then who do you have in your backseat? You have all your community members, right? And so you’re taking this journey not alone.

It’s with all of these, these people. And, and I was thinking about this saying, you know, no one likes a backseat driver. And so I think something important to think about too, is reflecting on your own approach to working with young people and how you’re entering that. partnership in that allyship space with young people to make sure that they are having fun, that there’s the buy in there, that it’s truly a safe and meaningful journey that is, you know, ultimately going to get to some systemic change.

And, and, and really focusing on, on that journey, right? Like another, you know, Quite stereotypical thing is like, right? It’s not the, it’s not the destination. It’s the journey. And we really do talk a lot about process over product. So, you know, if you need to kind of go in reverse and pick up more community members back at your previous pit stop, like that is totally understandable and it’s not always forward moving.

So it’s, It’s iterative. It’s something that takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns. And I think for anyone who loves a good adventure and is okay with giving up, you know, some of that control to young people they’ll be, you know, it’s just so rewarding. Like, you don’t know where you’re going to end up, and that is a beautiful space to be in. So I’m just kind of leaning into this analogy and really what I love about this roadmap and how it takes our linear process and really just zooms out and scaffolds the key experiences that we found are, are, are instrumental to getting to environmental citizens. So we hope that you all find this super useful and and can access it and kind of be able to gauge where you’re at and where you’d like to go and kind of use this as a planning tool and a way to kind of evaluate how you’ve done and look at maybe how you might do it differently next time. Have students look at this and determine where they’re at.

Taylor, what would you add? I’m not certain if I would have anything. I think you really covered it. and just kind of talked about kind of how the experience can be unique every single time. So identifying where you are, where your students are, where your community is, and going from there. And then be like, what’s the goal?

And we’ll see what we can accomplish together. All right. Well, we hope that you all see that you can use this and thank you so much for listening. Again, you can view the show notes and the transcripts on our blog at earthforce.org/blog

Don’t forget to leave a comment and tell us where you are on the roadmap, how you like it, and we’ll see you in a couple of weeks, everybody.

Youth Adult Partnership
Youth and adults worked together, in partnership, to choose the issue and strategy and carry out the action plan. Adults and youth shared responsibilities and power throughout the process.
Project & Task Management
Youth led and were responsible for tasks throughout, using peer accountability measures.
Democratic Debating & Decision-Making
All project decisions were made as a group with all voices at the table, using discussion, deliberation, debate, voting methods, criterion-based decision making, etc. to decide the issue selection and solution.
Community (Stakeholder) Engagement
3+ community members (including those impacted by the issue) were engaged to better understand the issue and inform an equitable and impactful action plan.
Youth advocated for a policy or practice change to decision makers in their community.
The action aimed to create long-term, systemic change that addresses the environmental issue.
Written by -

Hayley Valley, Earth Force's Communications Manager, joined Earth Force in 2010 and has since held too many roles to count - all drawing on her experience in communicating Earth Force's commitment to environmental action civics. When she’s not knee-deep in Google Docs, you’ll find her chasing her two boys around.

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