Volunteers have played a vital role in the history of AAEE for over 40 years. Their giving of time, energy, and enthusiasm helps move the organization forward to fulfill our mission and support environmental educators. This quarter we recognize a volunteer that has gone above and beyond lending her expertise in early childhood environmental education, and her superior editing and content building skills to help us offer quality resources through our website. Meet Ellen Bashor!
Raised in the prairies of Southern Minnesota, in the little town of “Cows, Colleges, and Contentment,” Ellen Bashor fell in love with the world. On the shores of 10,000 lakes, she built mud homes, and stacked the soft golden grasses into nests where she could fall asleep with her Beanie Babies in the sticky summer sun. Cursed with insatiable curiosity and blessed with adventurous parents, Ellen spent much of her childhood summers paddling and portaging her way through the Boundary Waters, slapping mosquitos, backpacking Western mountain ranges with her father, and helping her mother tend and eat the snap peas in the family garden. Yet, trapped inside by blizzards & burning wind chill, every October-March she would daydream of a place where winters didn’t hide the land.
With this dream in mind, she packed up an old minivan and moved to Prescott, Arizona in 2011 to attend Prescott College and, hopefully, say goodbye to winter forever. Needless to say, her research was inadequate, and she was more than surprised as the first snows rolled in over the Bradshaw Mountains. Yet, as an aspiring rock climber and mountain biker, she was already in love with the landscape: the scent of the Ponderosas, the shining pink granite, and the familiar prick of bushwhacking the chaparral. At the college, she found an inspiring community and began to pursue the roots and emerging trends of Environmental Education, and develop her personal philosophies and passions in the field. Working with professor Mariana Altrichter and her company Educational Expeditions, Ellen assisted in the design and creation of All Children in the Woods: a nature camp for children ages 5-9.
Continuing her work with the nature camp, Ellen graduated from Prescott College in 2015 with a bachelors in Transformative Education, a self-designed major that wove her personal philosophies into a critical & place-based pedagogy. After working for a year at Skyview School, a local multiple-intelligence theory based charter school in Prescott, Ellen affirmed for herself that her true passion lay in working in Early Childhood Education (ECE): a world where magic still exists. Focusing her personal studies on the history & methodology of nature-based ECE, and the direct benefits it provides, she began integrating new theory and approaches into her work with the young “Bobcats” at the nature camp. In 2016, Ellen became the program coordinator for the Prescott College Nature and Place-based Early Childhood Education Center (NPECE Center) and began assisting in the design & facilitation of their annual Summer Institute for early-childhood educators and administrators from around the country.
“whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over again announcing your place / in the family of things”
Along with her continued work with Educational Expeditions and the Prescott College NPECE Center, Ellen became a member of the Arizona Association of Environmental Education (AAEE), and began volunteering there in 2017, helping with various tasks, including developing early childhood education content for their website. Her vision for a vibrant and sustainable future continues to motivate her work. Currently, she is pursuing her masters in education at Prescott College and will be teaching the undergraduate Fundamentals of Environmental Education course this Spring. She is also the children’s programming coordinator for the City of Prescott’s Earth Day celebration, mentors youth & undergraduate students, is pursuing her Environmental Education certificate through the AAEE. Ellen dreams of creating an “Explorer Mobile” that could travel to underserved communities across the state, honoring Arizona’s natural and cultural history by facilitating holistic connections between the land & its inhabitants through pedagogy and play. For the future, Ellen envisions a world where the Southwest is supported by ecologically and culturally relevant educational opportunities for children, grown folks, and families, and where positive connections with our local landscapes cultivate and unite a community dedicated to preserving our earth and our heritage.
“Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ” Lakota phrase meaning we are all related.