I’m eager to take the strategies and techniques I’ve learned in years of environmental education and see how they transfer to the classroom. I want to co-create interdisciplinary, relevant lesson plans with my students and fellow teachers, tying science to issues of justice, public health, art, and beyond.”
Biology and Environmental Science
Why Biology and Environmental Science
“I’ve been drawn to plants, animals, and ecology since I was a small child. It’s also the discipline that grants me the easiest excuse to get kids (and myself) outside. And everything in biology and ecology relates to us, humans, at a profound, bodily level.”
Liz worked as a seasonal park ranger at various sites. From 2010 to 2012, she worked as an interpretive park ranger at Isle Royale National Park. In this role, she taught programs on island ecology, botany, freshwater ecology, predator-prey relationships, and geology. In 2013, Liz worked as an interpretive park ranger at the Colorado National Monument. In this role, she taught programs on desert ecology, botany, geology, and fossils. In 2017, Liz returned as a volunteer for an eight-day “Moosewatch” research trip at Isle Royale National Park. Moosewatch teams support the Isle Royale wolf-moose research project, combing the island’s wilderness backcountry. In 2019, she served as a summer Moosewatch trip leader, where she was responsible for leading a team of five volunteers off-trail. Liz hopes to return as a trip leader.
From 2011 to 2013, Liz worked as a teaching assistant in an Ecological Issues course at the University of Michigan. As a teaching assistant, she taught discussion sections for an undergraduate course for three semesters. Also during her graduate studies at the University of Michigan, Liz and three others founded the Sustainable Food Program and a new campus farm. The team worked with university faculty and staff, students, local farmers, and community members to establish the farm and an umbrella program to support and bring together all of the groups on campus working towards a sustainable food system. Since its inception, the farm has more than doubled in size, acquiring multiple full-time staff members to support the program. Additionally, the dorm dining halls serve food grown on campus, and thousands of students have volunteered at the farm and satellite gardens.
From 2014 to 2018, Liz worked as the full-time Connections Coordinator for the Minnesota Zoo, coordinating, developing, and teaching conservation education programs for the public, with a focus on teen and adult programs. She won the outstanding staff award and developed several popular new programs for the zoo and the community, including “Zoo Camp for Adults.” Her goals included adding content about large-scale, community-based issues and solutions in the realm of conservation, adding inquiry and experimentation to programs, and increasing representation of female scientists and scientists of color in programming.
From 2018 to 2019, Liz worked full-time for the Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District as their Education & Outreach Coordinator. In this role, she worked with their staff, board, and community partners to develop a three-year Education & Outreach Plan and to commit to a list of Equity and Inclusion Goals. She also managed the Landscaping for the Clean Water program, adding a cohort of trained volunteers and increasing participation across the county; led the Outdoor Education Days program; and created K–12 programming on water quality for local schools.
While she enjoyed working in informal environmental education, Liz felt that she was missing out on the chance to build meaningful, longer-term relationships with students. Liz decided to make the move to teaching in public schools, where she could teach science, ecology, and discovery, and support young people’s natural curiosity while building relationships in a different environment. She aims to be an anti-racist, abolitionist teacher and to teach biology and environmental science in a context of social justice and environmental racism, while highlighting the victories and work of youth and Black, Indigenous, and people of color activists.
Liz will begin teaching at the School of Environmental Studies during the 2020–2021 school year.
Liz has been the co-chair and trip leader for the Sierra Club group Inspiring Connections Outdoors since 2014. The organization partners with youth-centered agencies in the Twin Cities who work with youth or families who have limited access to the outdoors. They collaborate with the youth and staff to plan safe, fun, empowering, educational outdoor trips at no cost to the agencies or the kids.
Liz also runs an environmental education project called the Sidewalk Plant Lab, which raises awareness and appreciation of the plants that thrive in human-dominated places, while empowering passersby to become scientists.
Liz practices Irish step dancing and teaches dance. She also enjoys backpacking, hiking, paddling, skiing, and other outside adventures. She is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
- University of Minnesota (Master of Education)
- University of Michigan (Master of Science in Conservation Ecology)
- University of Michigan (Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies)