Montana’s Many Voices

Recordings and Resources from the Virtual 2021 Annual Conference

Keynote: Ranger Shelton Johnson

Mr. Johnson is a Yosemite National Park Ranger and known to many as the interpreter who brought stories of Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks back from obscurity. He is an author, the star of Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion in parks and outdoor spaces. “Shelton is a treasure, and he brought to life this chapter that was largely forgotten and linked it to Yosemite,” says Frank Dean, president and CEO of Yosemite Conservancy, the non-profit fundraising arm of the park. “He is a gifted and talented performer and park historian.” Read more about Mr. Johnson and his work.


Keynote: NDN Science Show Live Podcast Recording

“The idea “NDN science” didn’t jump out at us right away but it’s central to the theme of this podcast. This show is about hope for our future and not taking life too seriously. It’s about learning how to listen and have conversations again. It’s about exploring the problems that keep us up at night and every human’s ability to observe deeply and understand how the world works. It’s a show where we have conversations about science… and Indin’ stuff.” Learn more about the Podcast on their website.


Keynote: Mandy Smoker Broaddus

Mandy Smoker Broaddus has over 15 years’ experience working toward social justice, equity, inclusivity and cultural responsiveness, particularly in the realm of American Indian education. She has served at the tribal college, K-12 and state education agency levels across her home state of Montana where she is an enrolled member of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of the Fort Peck reservation. She received the 2015 National Indian Educator of the Year award by the National Indian Education Association, as well as an appointment by President Obama to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.”


Follow the Tracks to Dynamic LGBTQ Outdoor Programming

Not being out or feeling comfortable being out creates obstacles for meaningful nature connection-it’s vital to help people become more aware of, understand, and remedy potential barriers for LGBTQ participants in environmental education settings. In this session we’ll explore successful inclusive programming examples ranging from day options to overnight stays in outdoor settings, including a multi-day retreat for LGBTQ participants, family members, friends and allies in Yellowstone. We’ll also investigate strategies for welcoming greater community input, participation, and feedback to strengthen the life-changing outdoor experiences we provide for an increasingly diverse community of cultures, genders, and orientations.


Early Childhood Education

A facilitated discussion about early childhood education. We’re hoping to discuss innovations with educating early learners, nature preschools, and challenges educators are having but the conversation will depend on who shows up! Led by Sarah Chatwood, Preschool Coordinator at the Audubon Center in Billings. Sarah is a former classroom teacher, a Montana Master Naturalist, and was awarded MEEA’s Educator of the Year in 2015.


Inclusive Restoration: Bringing Special Education Populations to the Outdoors

EE providers are well-versed in the benefits of time in nature. These benefits are especially apparent in people with disabilities, who often have limited opportunities for outdoor time. Over the last 3 years, the Montana Audubon Center has provided outdoor experiences for Special Education classes from two local high schools. These students participate as volunteers through the Center’s “Inclusive Restoration” program, which focuses on project-based learning and meaningful connections to nature. This session will outline the successes and challenges of this program, which can be a model for other organizations interested in increasing their outreach toward diverse groups.


Educator Professional Development

A facilitated discussion about professional development trainings for educators. We plan to discuss programs that EE sites across the state are hosting as well as opportunities we collectively know about. If you’re looking for PD opportunities, this is the discussion for you. Lead by Robin Hompesch, Conservation Field School Program Director and Abigail King, Executive Director – both from the Jack Creek Preserve Foundation.


Adjustments for Inclusion of Neuro-atypical Learners

Outdoor and environmental education programs are often touted as being good for a variety of learners, even kids who might struggle in the classroom, but how can we be sure our programs really live up to these ideals? How can we create programs that are accessible and inclusive to learners with Autism and other atypical ways of thinking and experiencing the world? In this session, explore and learn some ways that you can adjust your programming, your materials, and your teaching to make them more inclusive of all learners, while setting students with Autism and other learning differences up for more success. You’ll take away some practical tools and ideas for adjusting, while also having an opportunity to share your own experiences and tips and tricks for working with and welcoming members of these communities into the world of EE.


COVID-19 Protocols for Programs

A facilitated discussion about reducing the risk of coronavirus infection during in-person activities for children from birth to age 18. We plan to discuss preventive actions taken by the facilitators and participants, including what worked and what didn’t. Led by Ryan Hannahoe, Executive Director of Montana Learning Center at Canyon Ferry Lake, and Holly Bander, a Montana licensed attorney who worked with Ryan last Spring to create the COVID-19 Manual for Montana Summer Camps, used by 20 nonprofits for their 2020 in-person children’s camps.


Helping Educators Create Inclusive Environments

We all want (and need) to create inclusive, supportive educational environments for our students and participants, but it can be difficult to know where to start. At EPI Yellowstone, we’ve developed a training for our field instructors to help them become more inclusive educators, no matter whether they are just beginning the journey or are fairly advanced. The training not only explores foundational concepts and practical tools, but it also builds a common language and a community of peers that we can leverage throughout the program season. We hope to share the training structure and some activities with anyone who is looking for ways of helping their own staff or community become more inclusive.


Highlighting Black Experiences in the Great Outdoors

Representation in the outdoors is sadly still low, but the interest of BIPOC communities wanting to engage with nature is increasing. Join co-organizer of Black Birders Week and founder of Black in National Parks Week for a discussion on how representation can give hope to and empower the next generation of BIPOC outdoor recreation enthusiasts and park advocates.


Getting Outdoors Afterschool

Afterschool programs provide unique opportunities to get kids learning outside. Many also offer summer programming, which is an ideal time to teach Environmental Education. From taking kids on a hike to exploring their very own backyard, come learn how one afterschool program in rural Montana incorporates outdoor learning. The students at the Stevens Youth Center in White Sulphur Springs have been spending their summers in their backyard garden for over a decade. They can even be found in the winter months outside hunting for bugs. If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can work with your afterschool program to increase students’ outdoor learning, this is the workshop for you.


Diverse Education Partnerships at Travelers Rest State Park

Travelers’ Rest State Park offers a variety of cultural field trips, both virtual and in person, to students around Montana and beyond. We have created partnerships between Montana, Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) staff and AmeriCorps members, with our park friends group, the Travelers’ Rest Connection, and the Salish Culture Committee, to bring indigenous history and content to our park interpretive and education. During this Question and Answer session, staff will discuss how these partnerships can create successful and engaging content for curriculum based field trips, as well as creating formal programming and events, special guest speakers, and cultural demonstrations at our park.


PLT Focus On Environmental Risk


Part of listening to many voices in Environmental Education includes a good understanding of Risk in our Environment. Project Learning Tree’s Focus on Risk module challenges grades 6-12 how to understand risk, identify costs and benefits associated with environmental issues, and apply critical thinking skills to real world choices and policies. We will give an overview of the guide, go through an activity and share thoughts on how this guide can be used both in the classroom and in community planning.


Stop Calling Me “Diverse”

Presentation Description: Diversity is a code word, but what do we really mean? In this brief peak into the critical thought work of Youth Outside out of , participants will consider the impacts and implications of coded language on educators of color in environmental education. Through facilitated learning, small group discussion, and a Youth Outside designed tool, participants will walk away empowered to change the language they use when discussing equity and inclusion, and by extension the narrative of environmental education itself.



Indigenous and Academic Science

Culturally aware environmental scientists have grappled with differences between academic science and indigenous science. Though not always recognized, both are important to sustainability. Educators should have strategies for engaging students in both sciences, a concept which is encapsulated by Mi’kmaw metaphor “two-eyed seeing”. The presentation draws complexity from the fields of land education, sense of place, and social justice education to help educators strategize around the conflicting goals of indigenous land repatriation and place-based environmental connection. Education practitioners who have questions about what these differences mean for environmental education will learn how to incorporate these Indigenous values into their teaching.


Educator Awards & Closing by Shane Doyle


Incorporating Environmental Justice into Hands-On EE

Presentation Description: Environmental justice is social justice. To teach about environmental justice as part of environmental education is anti-racist, according to Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. This is a goal we should all strive to meet as environmental educators. However, many educators struggle with how environmental justice fits into curricula with environmental science. This session will use one of Project WET’s activities about water to demonstrate how hands-on activities about water science can open discussions and research into environmental justice and use examples of historical and current environmental racism in Montana.


Why Cultural Relevancy Matters

Cultural relevancy in educational situations starts with acknowledging the diversity of individual identities in your group. In this session we will look at a practical application of James Banks’s four levels of integration of multicultural content: Social Justice, Transformation, Additive, and Contributions. All four levels can be integrated in a meaningful and respectful way whether doing a one time tour, a summer program, or in the K-12 classroom.


Virtual Field Trip Across Montana