On June 11, 2009 sixteen emerging leaders from AL, GA, FL, NC, SC and TN arrived at the Marywood Retreat Center in St. Johns, FL to begin a journey of professional growth and personal exploration.
Fellows arrived at their 4 day orientation retreat with a myriad of questions such as who were the other 15 members of their fellowship class, how does their individual work on the environment relate to that of their peers, and what is the power of ELP’s Fellowship Network of over 400 emerging environmental leaders.
As every Fellow arrives at orientation retreats with the same questions, we dedicated the day to finding out who was in the room. Through a series of exercises and small group work, Fellows learned about what led each other to pursue careers in food security, sustainable investments and art for at-risk youth (read all the bios of the 2009 Southeast Regional Network Fellows at http://www.elpnet.org/southeastnetwork/meet09.php). Additionally, Fellows spent time gaining a better understanding of each participant’s personal interests such as Shannon Binns who likes photography and experimenting with different angles and lighting or Ivy Simmons who takes self-sufficiency to another level by making her own skin moisturizers, almond milk and is moving to the country to live off the land.
By the time the first day of the retreat was completed, Fellows had built trust among their peers and were prepared to delve into the difficult conversations that take place when we take an in-depth look at diversity in the environmental field.
During the two days of diversity training, Fellows take an introspective look at their own “lens” or how and why they see the world as they do. All too often we assume others see the world as we do and this assumption can lead to misunderstandings and conflict. In addition to learning more about their own lenses, Fellows began to dissect the diversity that exists within their own workplace and how they might go about increasing the diversity at all levels of their organization and institution.
The last day of the retreat was dedicated to learning more about the Environmental Leadership Program and the many exciting opportunities that await them as they join a unique community of visionary leaders such as joining one of ELP’s Affinity Groups, collaborating on projects and moving public discussions forward at the local and national scale.
Thanks to your generous contribution to the Environmental Leadership Program’s Southeast Regional Network, 16 Fellows are on their way to increasing their leadership potential and the exciting collaborations that will move the environmental movement in the right direction! We hope you’ll share our progress with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to follow your foot steps as together we work for a just and sustainable future. http://www.globalgiving.com/projects/emerging-environmental-leaders-of-the-southeast/
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