A Pandemic Silver Lining: Planning a Collaborative Virtual Event to Reach Students Everywhere

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A Pandemic Silver Lining: Planning a Collaborative Virtual Event to Reach Students Everywhere

Reid Walley

By Cassidy Williams, Student Membership Committee Chair

It’s no surprise that with the majority of students learning remotely that student outreach for the 2020-2021 school year is looking a little different than previous years.

In the midst of the pandemic, most of us have had to adapt many, if not all, aspects of our work as well as our personal lives, and that has made us have to think creatively to adapt to these changes. This was recently exemplified in the planning, collaboration, and overall success of our Chapter’s fall student kickoff event, a webinar entitled “Planning for the Future: A Panel Discussion on Environmental Careers.”

Over the summer, Cassidy Williams, the Channel Counties Chapter Student Membership Committee Chair, was participating in a virtual meeting with the other California Chapters’ student membership chairs and realized that with student events being hosted virtually, it opened up the benefits of planning a cross-chapter event. Subsequently, Ms. Williams reached out to Kristen Bogue of the Orange County chapter and Emilie Wolfson of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter and the team to host a cross-county collaborative virtual event was born. Over the course of the summer, Ms. Williams, Ms. Bogue, and Ms. Wolfson met over Zoom and worked out the framework for the event and recruited colleagues to form a panel of environmental professionals.

The panel was composed of five individuals who came from different environmental professions and years of experience, and included Claudia Garcia, an environmental planner from Sacramento, Pierre Glaize, an air quality and climate change specialist from Santa Ana, Travis Belt, a biologist from San Luis Obispo, Vanessa Shevlin, an arborist from the San Francisco bay area, and Lee Reis, a transportation specialist from Walnut Creek. 

On October 22nd, the day of the event, 100 students had registered for the event and everyone was ready to go. When the clock struck noon, the event began and each of the panelists shared their stories and perspectives on their own career paths, the challenges and rewarding aspects of their profession, and what key skills they felt were crucial to develop to be successful in their field. Multiple students submitted their questions to the panel and they were answered live. At the close of the webinar, students were provided with additional opportunities to stay engaged through AEP membership, the AEP conference, and scholarship opportunities.

All in all, this event demonstrated that while student outreach efforts this year will be different and present new challenges, that they can be just as successful as past efforts and in some areas, even more successful. By hosting more virtual events this year and in the years to come, the Channel Counties Chapter hopes to continue to reach out and engage with students no matter where they’re at.

Listen to a recording of the panel (audio)

Watch a recording of the panel (video and audio)