Ecoliteracy Love Letter

Dear the Person I Aspire to Be,

I love the way you laugh, the way you let go, the way you realize this place is far bigger than you and me. The way you’ve accepted your natural hair, natural face, natural lawn, your naturalness.

But what does it mean to be natural anyway? For you, it’s your ability to strip the synthetics, the man-made, the negative and realize that all you need surrounds you. It’s gratitude; for the birds that sing each morning, the sun that kisses your skin, the plants you eat, the ability you have to experience such a wonderful place with senses that are able. Sometimes, it’s the bad. It’s the disaster, the entropy, the fire that burns inside. But all this too has a purpose. Power within, strength to conquer, resilience, and the opportunity for succession. Finally, it’s the connection. It’s the symbiosis. It’s the community I form with not just my own kind, but the many others that inhabit this planet Earth. It’s reciprocity.

A natural being is one that cares, one that is aware, one that is adaptable. Most importantly, one that is kind. One that disrupts only for benefit. One that realizes that the greatest opportunities stem from this space we share. Life stems from this space. What did we do to deserve this space? It is time we start giving back, appreciating this place for all it does for us while asking for nothing in return, flowing like the rivers and being as open as the sky. It is time I change this letter’s address from the person I aspire to be, to my future self instead.

With love always,

Natalie

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CJ2 – Powerful Acts of Reciprocity with the Land

Creative Journal Two:

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A recent grocery repeint indicates I may not be doing my best to help reduce my waste and carbon footprint on this planet. Highlighted are all the items which generate some form of non-compostable waste, whether it be a plastic wrapping or contents inside of a can. Circled in red are all the items that not only produce non-compostable waste, but also non-recyclable waste. Most of these items were wrapped in a thin plastic or wrapper that is not easily recycled at local facilities, or not recyclable at all. Even fruits and vegetables fell victim to this unnecessary packaging.

“Maple Nation” reminded me that there is much more to this life I live than the people I interact with. My choices directly effect the environment which I reside in. The phrase on the top of the receipt “You’re at home here” could allude to the fresh produce, meat, and diary which is often local, but I do not wish to live in a home filled with plastic waste. I want to start making choices that my environment would be proud of, ones that would make the birds sing louder and the trees stand taller. This is my ecological pledge, my leap for action: to live sustainably. I will act on this pledge by reducing my waste and being more considerate in my purchases. This could include taking advantages of farmers markets or choosing food that is not going to generate non-compostable waste when possible. While I already use my own reusable grocery bags, I could begin to support businesses that do not excessively wrap fresh food in plastic for ‘sterility’. I feel that if I begin with what I consume most of, food, others will follow. This could include but is not limited to my toiletries and clothing purchases. For now, I will commit to this change of reducing my waste even before consumption.

Creative Journal One:

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When pondering upon the things that matter most to me, I cannot help but mention the environment we live in. As I further my scientific knowledge, I gain a stronger appreciation for the things that I see, hear, touch, taste, smell, can do, and can coexist with. My recent travels to Hawaii were liberating; confirming that my presence in this space is meaningful, purposeful, and cannot be taken for granted. As I experienced new life in the ocean, I felt connected to the creatures beneath the water. Each with their own brilliant colour and methods of movement, I was fascinated by the world we often forget exists, but the world which greatly effects our place on this Earth. I related deeply to the Sound of Silver Bells by Robin Wall Kimmerer. As a science student, majority of my learning involves theoretical, hypothetical, or observed processes which are discussed in a classroom setting. It was rare to see these things talked about so regularly observed in live action. The students, biologists rather, embarking on the journey with Robin reminded me of myself, and the first time an instructor took our teaching outside the classroom roughly four months ago. This moment surveying plants disrupted all pedagogy I was exposed to prior and catalyzed the realization I was missing for so long; I am part of this environment and it is part of me too.

This realization seems so simple yet is lacked by so many science students I know. I began to connect this thought to all things I saw in the environment, particularly while in Hawaii. The bright and beautiful colours of these fish swim within me. The sand I grew to know so well runs in my blood, but as minerals necessary for survival. The sun kisses my skin, sometimes a little too affectionately. The green grass, the trees, and all the plants provide me with air to breathe and food to eat. All of these worlds collide with mine; they flow into me. Ignoring this would be the largest disservice I could do to myself. Ignoring the ways in which I am in this place and how this place is in me means I could not successfully save this place nor save myself. I am motivated more than ever to do better.

CJ1 – What Does the Environment Mean to You?

Who am I?

Hello! My name is Natalie Selinger. I am currently in my third year of studies at the University of Regina. I hope to complete a Secondary Education degree with a major in Biology and a minor in Inclusive Education. I am very passionate about all aspects of science, health, sport, art, inclusion, and community. I hope to reinvent the ways in which we think about, teach, and approach scientific concepts. This includes the introduction of Indigenous ways of knowing, inquiry approach, and problem solving.

I am employed at EYES where in May and June, I deliver educational and uplifting workshops from students in grades one through nine who attend schools across southern Saskatchewan. In July and August, I am an instructor who leads a science, engineering, and technology camp weekly at the university. Here I do scientific demonstrations as well as guide campers through activities rooted in science, engineering, and technology practices created by the staff. The activities and demonstrations correspond with the Saskatchewan curricula for grades one through nine. In the fall and winter months, I am an EYES Clubs instructor, where I develop new activities and demonstrations that campers can explore on Saturday afternoons. I have also created an All Girls Club, a branch of EYES which focuses on encouraging young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math careers. This program occurs after school and tackles relevant global issues such as climate change, sustainable energy sources, infrastructure design, and technological discoveries.

When I am not at the university working or attending classes, I enjoy playing and coaching ringette. I have been a member of the ringette community for over ten years and began coaching fall of 2017. I discovered a lot about myself coaching a young group of grade four to six girls and further developed myself as an instructor, motivator, and positive role model. Ringette itself has taught me fantastic teamwork and social skills including patience, compassion, positivity, and the importance of listening.

I have always been interested in the area of teaching and am ecstatic to be starting my journey! Explore the various pages to learn more.

Curriculum as Literacy

Reflecting on my schooling experience as well as my upbringing, I have come to realize my worldview has changed dramatically, my knowledge of certain topics has (hopefully) increased, and the biases I carry have shifted. Although I would love to believe I grew up without influence from racial, sexual, gender, or other biases, I know this is not the case. I along with many others in Saskatchewan grew up in a neighbourhood that had a strong white majority, attended religious schools with very few differing racial groups, was not exposed to the LGBTQ+ community, and did not quite understand why or how any marginalized group concerned me. It is safe to say I did not know diversity and how powerful it could be.

I heard many ‘single stories’ of different cultures and groups most of which were extremely stereotypical, heteronormative, and racist. They ranged anywhere from impoverished Africans who lived in clay huts, Asians who were bad drivers, Indigenous peoples who received everything for free, white men who were most qualified, to sitting with a young boy while in grade one and having everyone ask if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. These narratives are extremely harmful. Reinforcing such narratives learned through popular culture, media, family, and friends, encourage a ‘superior’ person and oppress everyone else.

It is evident I was exposed to biases that moulded me into a person who was uneducated,  misunderstanding, and had plenty of room for improvement. Had I not decided to actively unlearn such biases to ensure I do not oppress my future students, I may have been an educator who made incorrect assumptions, reinforced stereotypes, and brushed off the importance of activism and social justice. The classroom environment would have been far from inclusive and I could have potentially harmed students with my previous and incorrect understanding of certain groups and communities.

It is crucial educators undergo this transition to unlearn these biases by educating oneself on the facts, considering many biases stem from little evidence and consideration or are simply dated from many years ago. Making effort to keep an open, but critical mind is also important as this will filter content which may not be logical or just while being available to hear the perspectives and opinions of others. Listening to a person can be very beneficial! Ultimately, everyone will make the decision for themselves to unlearn such biases when they are ready or see necessary. It is unfortunate some people may see no opportunity to make this change but I am thrilled that I decided to do this in my young adulthood. I could not imagine living how I was raised any longer. I would like to believe my parents, family, teachers, and peers had positive intentions but they imposed views onto me which I did not create for myself.  I will work for the rest of my life on recovering from such biases and work hard to not pass the biases I carry with me to my students or family in the future. This will be a life long battle and I will learn everyday, but I am thankful I have the opportunity to change my life which will better myself and the lives of those around me.