(Above) Lorna Pettifer receiving her award.

Congratulations to Lorna Pettifer – AAEE’s Environmental Educator of the Year! As the Learning Innovation Director at CERES in Melbourne, Lorna directs the organisation's education and training programs. We caught up with Lorna to find out more about her work.

For those of us who aren't familiar with CERES, can you tell us a bit about it? 

CERES is an urban oasis in East Brunswick, Melbourne. Our vision for change is to help people fall in love with the earth again. We do this through our amazing sustainability and cultural education programs, through our social enterprises and our visitor experiences by providing a place for people to connect with. We strive to make change and give people alternatives and knowledge in climate systems, food systems and people systems. In one year we reach and teach 288,606 early childhood, school students and teachers and 2,277 youth and adults in our courses and global programs. CERES’ reach goes beyond our formal or scheduled education programs including all visitors and online we engage around 1.3 million people per year! CERES has 267 staff or 97FTE  and 3,400 volunteers per year supporting us. 

Can you tell us more about your role and the CERES Education and Training Programs? 

I have the wonderful job of overseeing all the education areas at CERES. This includes our school programs - excursions / incursions / teacher professional development, adult programs - courses / workshops / NDIS Day service programs and our global programs. As well as working on the strategy and approaches for CERES Education, I support staff and areas to flourish, I bring in new business and projects, foster partnerships in the sector, develop and design programs and deliver our Environmental Education Course to groups a couple of times a year. Although now in a director role, I am an educator at heart and love to deliver programs, events and workshops for staff and external organisations on climate change, community engagement, environmental management, behaviour change and environmental education.

What has been the most rewarding highlight of your work in environmental education?  

So many to choose from so I will choose a recent experience that has inspired me. Earlier this year I attended the Climate Reality Leadership Training in Brisbane. Surrounded by a room full of people from around Australia and the world that were there to champion the need to act NOW on climate change. As an organisation, CERES has declared a climate and ecological crisis and we are having a deep look at how we can better support our community to connect, build knowledge and be impactful. We are soon to launch the School of Climate and Nature. We are shifting what we doing up a gear and ensuring our learning design, delivery and approaches are affecting change and inspiring learners in a time where we need to meet the 10-11 year deadline to reduce CO2 by at least 45% by 2030.  

What does the AAEE Environmental Educator of the Year award mean to you? 

I am so proud to receive this award. It recognises the work and energy I put in to what I do and all the programs at CERES that I am lucky to represent. It shows my 6-year-old twin daughters that when they work towards something that they are passionate about they can be celebrated and supported by their community. It made me stop, take a breath and celebrate. This is so important to do and often we forget to do this. Celebrating the good things that people do is so important to keep up momentum in teaching about the environment and activating others. This award represents the 90+ program coordinators, educators and trainers that support our learning ecosystem at CERES and all the staff that make my workplace a magic place to work and community to visit and learn from.