Teaching ‘Outside the Classroom’ — Environmental Education with a Twist

WeNaturalists names Joe Grabowski as the Environmental Educator of 2021 for the WeNaturalists People of Nature awards.

As kids, we were always fascinated by the beautiful pictures in geography class. The diverse landscapes and colorful scenery captured our attention and captivated our minds. At some point, we all have dreamt of visiting these surreal places and experiencing their natural beauty.

Similar was the case with Joe Grabowski too. A science communicator, educator and scuba diver, Joe is working to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers. He is the founder of the non-profit Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, which brings science, exploration, adventure, and conservation into classrooms across North America through virtual speakers and field trips.

Through his efforts, he has brought the natural environment closer to hundreds of thousands of children and given them a nature-centric upbringing.

Joe — The Science Communicator

While traveling in Australia, Joe was struck by an interesting idea, and he knew immediately he had to act on it. He got the thought of using technology to provide students the experience of science, exploration, adventure, and conservation from the comfort of their classrooms.

This was the beginning of Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants. To bring the most realistic experience of the outdoors, Joe collaborated with individual explorers. He equipped them with small, textbook-sized satellite units to use for broadcasting their live trips into the classroom. Joe also made the live stream available on YouTube so that more classrooms could watch it.

His initiative has been a massive success. Since 2015, he’s broadcasted more than 2,500 live events and connected half a million students with explorers from more than 85 countries.

Every month, he also holds about 20 events — full-day, week-long and month-long ones, on topics like biodiversity, ocean plastics, conservation, engineering, women in science, space exploration, climate change, ecosystems, technology and others.

Through his work, he has brought the experience of the natural world to many students across the world. Joe’s efforts have been instrumental in fostering ecocentric values in children and raising them to be environmentally conscious.

For his work, he won the Canadian Scholarship Trust’s Inspired Minds Learning Project Grand Prize in 2016. In 2017, he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and later was named National Geographic’s first Education Fellow. He is also among the top 50 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Joe’s efforts go beyond the limits of a formal education. Through his initiative, he is making a serious attempt towards providing the next generation with a Green Childhood.

As the environmental lessons get ingrained in the very character of the child, they leave a lasting impact. The learnings contribute to their all-around development, thereby raising an entire generation of eco-conscious citizens. In a world where nature has largely been an afterthought, such teachings are the need of the hour.

On October 1, WeNaturalists earmarked World People Of Nature Day. The theme of the year is Green Childhood. As part of the event, we hosted a webinar with a panel of experts from different fields of nature. Learn more about it here.

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WeNaturalists is bringing Nature Professionals and Organizations together with customized tools to network, learn, work and collaborate. For a larger impact.

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