Thanksgiving in June at Environmental Education Assembly in Ireland

Carrick-a-rede in Northern Ireland. At the recent Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) General Assembly in Dublin, 70 countries were represented. (photo by Laura Hickey)
I’ve just returned from the Foundation for Environmental Education’s (FEE) General Assembly in Dublin, Ireland.

The General Assembly is where all the participating host countries that run FEE’s education programs gather to make decisions on the group’s direction.  NWF is the FEE host organization in the United States for the Eco-Schools USA program and the soon to be launched Young Reporters for the Environment program.

This year’s meeting was especially important, as decisions were made regarding where FEE will be located and how it will be structured in the future.

Coming Together as a Family

It reminded me of Thanksgiving in many ways. For my non-American friends, Thanksgiving is a traditional U.S. holiday held in November, and it is often highlighted by friends and family celebrating together and giving thanks for life’s many blessings.

An Taisce was our host for the FEE General Assembly. (photo by Laura Hickey)
The FEE General Assembly is very much like that, mostly because we are all part of a very large family. Sure, there’s cranky Uncle Bob who wants to argue about minutiae, and good-humored Cousin Sue who just wants us all to get along, but there’s also a general feeling of connectedness and solidarity, especially with respect to the FEE programs we deliver nationally, and how we learn, share, respect and admire each other as well.

An Taisce was our host for the FEE General Assembly in Ireland. An Taisce is an incredible organization that has a tremendous staff and leader in Pat Oliver, the head of their Education programs—one of my favorite people ever (I so want to be her when I grow up). Her amazing staff, Dr. Michael John O’Mahony, Anthony Purcell, Annabel Fitzgerald, and so many others arranged a well-orchestrated meeting, travel logistics, and fun cultural events that would be difficult to eclipse.

One of the items that was in our “welcome” bag was a lovely bottle of perfume called Inis.  Even more sweet was the sentiment on the packaging:

Inis is Irish for island,
But no one is an island:
We are all connected,
By seas, by oceans, by dreams,
Through keeping the channels clear.
A sea change – for all of us.

An Taisce's Pat Oliver and colleague. (photo by Laura Hickey)
I’m thankful for all of my colleagues from all around the world, working so hard to make it a better place for all of us.  I’m equally as thankful for the incredible FEE president, Jan Eriksen, and staff (Finn, Bernard, Sarah, Anna, Rikke, and everyone else), and the hard working FEE volunteer board. My personal thanks to those departing board members, John Summers (our FEE mentor), Henny Kromhout; and Petr Danis—thank you for your leadership, advice, and support; and hearty congratulations to our newest board members.

I’m lucky in many ways: having two Thanksgivings in one year, being connected to such a fantastic extended family, and getting to visit incredibly beautiful countries like Ireland.