Amigos de Bolsa Chica Summer Institute for Educators

Educating for Sustainability in Times of Uncertainty
Amigos de Bolsa Chica/ National Geographic Summer Institute for Educators
July 13th- July 24th 2020

Program Overview

A free workshop series designed to help California Middle and High School Environmental Science/ Ecology/Sustainability teachers convert their existing in-person class plans to whatever COVID-19 response plan is to be implemented by their school districts for fall 2020 (e.g. distance learning, in-person, and/or hybrid formats).

In collaboration with teachers, workshop facilitators will identify areas of need, discuss topics of interest, and share/test/troubleshoot strategies to overcome expected challenges in adapting class plans for COVID-19 “new normal” (whatever that be for their districts).

This Summer Institute will also include Phase 1 training to become a National Geographic Certified Educator. Teachers who complete phase 1 training of the NG certification gain access to an online community of global educators who share your passion of teaching students about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and make it a better place.

The organizers of this institute believe that black lives matter. We are committed to help teachers in whatever ways we can to prepare for fall 2020 so that they can support their students and communities during this important time in history, as we strive to effectively address systemic racism and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in all segments of society, including in STEM and environmental fields.

This Summer Institute is completely FREE of charge to participants. The organizers, facilitators, and guest speakers of this Summer Institute are all volunteers who have agreed to work on this project without pay or other direct financial rewards. Any clerical costs and operating expenses associated with the development and implementation of this project have been covered by Amigos de Bolsa Chica’s general funds. Amigos de Bolsa Chica is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization formed in 1976. The mission of the Amigos de Bolsa Chica is to advocate the preservation, restoration, and maintenance of the Bolsa Chica, to encourage the public acquisition of all the wetlands and sufficient surrounding open space to create a viable ecosystem, and to provide education about the importance of wetlands. All organizers, facilitators, guest speakers and participants further agree to seek no future remuneration or financial reward for the time and effort they have invested in this project and confirm that there are no financial conflicts of interest to disclose.


Kimi Waite, M.Ed., 2019 EE 30 Under 30, North American Association for Environmental Education & US Forest Service Teacher Trainer & Education Blogger, National Geographic Education, Teacher Leader & Consultant, California Global Education Project.

Gwen Noda B.S. in Marine Biology and M.A. in Biology, Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations Diversity Director at USC, Former Co-Director of the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE-West.

Joana Tavares-Reager, B.S. in Oceanography, M.S. in Marine Science and Policy, PhD Candidate in Earth System Science, Former Community College Professor, Curricula Developer

Training we are planning to offer*

*The Summer Institute for Educators will be co-created alongside participating teachers through a collaborative application process and program. We will consider the needs and offerings that you share in your application, and we draw upon your responses to shape the program. We know that many solutions already exist in our communities and that one of the most important things we can do is facilitate the spaces for educators to exchange solutions in an empowering and peer-led setting. Below we list some of the offerings that will be made available to educators to choose from, as a group.

  1. Science of Distance Learning: data-based strategies for distance learning education to engage, motivate and support students during these challenging times.
  2. Differentiating in times of distance learning: how to adjust online instruction to meet the individual needs of students, particularly those dealing with extreme hardships due to COVID-19.
  3. Taking full advantage of existing online resources
    a) Connecting the National Geographic Geo Inquiry Process to your teaching practice and how to become a National Geographic Certified Educator by completing Phase 1 of National Geographic Educator Certification Process.
    b) Other resources compiled here.
  4. Hands-on activities, experiments students can do at home, backyard explorations and self-guided tours
  5. Fostering student civil engagement and environmental activism online and remotely: strategies include creating petitions and related media content, in addition to writing letters to public officials, institutions and agencies.
  6. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the classroom: tools to empower underrepresented minorities and promote the development of allyship by addressing racism, discrimination, and oppression through discussions about environmental justice and intersectional environmentalism.
  7. Practical self-care suggestions for teachers, including strategies on how to improve work-life balance, personal wellbeing, and resources for teachers seeking emotional and mental health support.


Program will take place entirely on zoom and will consist of 6 meetings of 2 hours each for a total of 12 hours of “facilitated workshop time" plus optional work time for small teams of 3-4 teachers to collaborate in actually preparing their lesson plans for the semester. Pre-workshop preparation (suggested readings and assignments) is expected to take an additional 4-6 hours. We are aiming to run the program for 2 weeks (July 13th- July 24th 2020) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (time TBD).

  • 2-hr Zoom meetings will take place three times a week (M-W-F); time TBD
  • Teachers will receive reading suggestions and other preparation material before each zoom meeting
  • Each meeting will begin with warm up activities to review what has been accomplished so far and go over progress made in smaller teams.
  • Brainstorming session from which a list of goals for each day will emerge.
  • The main topic of the day will be presented by the facilitator (Joana Tavares, Kimi Waite and Gwen Noda) and/or guest speaker and will include demonstrations, tutorials, collaborative/ interactive teaching activities and active learning activities.
  • Teachers will develop the daily topic further by sharing their own experiences, expectations, and concerns.
  • Facilitator will help teachers synthesize the discussion and articulate main practical takeaways.
  • Teachers, facilitator and presenters will wrap up day’s meeting by reviewing what was done and previewing what will be covered in the next meeting.
  • Daily notes will be shared with the group.
  • Notes, instructional materials and discussion products (e.g. summaries, thinking maps and other visuals) will be later edited and formatted to be shared with general public online (so that other educators can also benefit from program).
  • Teachers meet in smaller teams as often as they need/ can to work collaboratively on their individual lesson plans.

Application and Selection Process

Teachers must apply online by completing this application form.

All educators from the State of California are welcome to apply but due to limited capacity (20 educators), enrollment is not guaranteed and preference will be given to middle and high school teachers that teach STEM and/or sustainability-related courses in Title 1 schools within Southern California. A selection committee will review applications and selected participants will be announced on Monday, July 6.