Kids, conservation drives Conservancy educator
Nature and kids has always been a passion for Steffani Clark-Jijon, even as a small girl growing up in Quito, Ecuador.
After high school, Steffani and her mom and moved to the United States so she could attend The Ohio State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology with a focus in conservation biology. Steffani later interned and worked for various conservation organizations as a field biologist, furthering the conservation efforts of several raptor species.
While her focus had always been about protecting nature and conducting research, after becoming a parent, Steffani’s perspective shifted. Her personal and professional goals aligned well, and she became very passionate about helping children learn, appreciate, and bond with nature, just as she had done in her childhood.
So, Steffani went back to school and earned a Masters in Community-based Conservation & Inquiry-based Learning. These studies took Steffani to remote areas in Mexico, Mongolia and Kenya to learn first-hand about how cultures around the world address environmental conservation using the bottom-up strategies and partnering communities with scientists to develop effective and long-lasting conservation strategies.
Steffani was also exposed to a learning pedagogy that was based in inquiry and discovery more than merely acquiring knowledge. The time spent acquiring this degree, reshaped her professional career.
Today, Steffani runs a Nature-immersive & Bilingual Outdoor Learning Program for elementary-aged children, connecting them to nature and fostering environmental stewardship. She is also an educator with The Escondido Creek Conservancy, where she teaches 3rd graders conservation science as part of the Conservancy’s Habitats program. She also helps facilitate a statewide outdoor education coalition started by the Conservancy called California Statewide Outdoor Learning initiative (CalSOL). CalSOL advocates for every K-12 student in the state to have equal access to outdoor education.
Steffani’s passion truly lies in connecting children with nature, and empowering youth to be environmental leaders and nature stewards in their communities. The environmental challenges our world faces are many and quite concerning.
She wholeheartedly believe that many of the solutions to our problems lie not only in education, but in equal access to an education that is filled with opportunities and experiences in nature, so that we collectively shift our perspective from a young age and take meaningful actions for chance.