Community Engagement & Education
Climate change communication
Best practice Education for Sustainability (EfS) and Transformational Learning for Sustainability (TLfS)
Social research- interviews and focus groups
Stakeholder engagement, consultation and partnership development
Strategic planning, project planning and management
Evaluation framework design and implementation
Workshop delivery and facilitation
Educational communications and marketing - film, video, websites, enews, social media, print and radio
Leadership and Training
Climate leadership- trained Climate Reality Leader (2020)
Staff and volunteer mentoring, support and capacity building
Coordination of Communities of Practice and professional networks
Development of resource materials including guides and case studies
Workshop presentation and facilitation
Government Grant Management
Reviewing of grant applications and reports
Grant writing and project management
Grant program redesign
Climate Communication Guide
Communicating about the climate crisis can be hard, but we need to be able to talk about a problem if we want to solve it.
This has led me to create '10 Communication Tips to Change the Climate Story', for the Australian Association for Environmental Education - NSW Chapter (AAEE NSW).
This short guide is useful for any professionals who wish to influence others and for all those in the climate movement.
Rethinking NSW Environmental Education Grants
Working with the Australian Association for Environmental Education- NSW Chapter, I am using my project management skills to lead a team of academics and industry experts to redesign the NSW Environmental Trust's Environmental Education Grants Program.
This has involved acting as key client liaison with the Trust to develop grant application forms and a monitoring and evaluation framework, as well as an innovative educational resource (below).
This guide looks at how to apply Transformational Learning for Sustainability, social practice and values theory into the design of environmental education projects. The result is a practical framework on research and testing, changing the systems that can support or hinder behaviours, using transformative experiences to engage and evaluating changes that have occured. Thanks to the talented Les Robinson for all of his work on this resource!
Storytelling to educate and engage
Working with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment (DPIE), I used my social research, stakeholder engagement and communication skills to deliver the short film Everlasting Clarence (below).
When DPIE got in touch with the idea of an educational video, I pitched the concept of a community film with personal stories of why the threatened freshwater wetlands are important (rather than interviewing 'experts' such as scientists or government staff).
I conducted social research to find a diverse range of people who believe the wetlands are important and built trusting relationships with them so that they would be willing to be interviewed on film.
I then brought talented film maker Simon Portus from Headline Productions into the project and worked with him to conduct interviews on set and develop the educational messages of the film. (Here we are filming recreational fisherman Stu Murphy on the beautiful Clarence River).
The resulting innovative resource is helping to educate and engage the Clarence community about the threatened freshwater wetlands of their region. But just as importantly, the film premiere in Grafton during the Jacaranada Festival enabled DPIE staff to form community connections that resulted in new wetland conservation projects being initiated in the Clarence Valley.
Supporting grant-funded project teams
Working with the NSW Environmental Trust, I use my skills in evaluation and best practice to critically review the progress and final reports of Trust-funded environmental education projects. This involves providing positive and constructive feedback to build the confidence and capacity of the project teams delivering grant funded projects.
Engaging with businesses about food waste
Working with the MidWaste Regional Waste Forum, I am using my stakeholder engagement skills to support food businesses and aged care facilities to reduce food waste.
I used my communication skills during this project to deliver the social media case study video (below) with Magic Cupboard Interactive about one of the Coffs Harbour restaurants I worked with to reduce their food waste.
Educating the community about new practices
Working with Coffs Harbour City Council and MidWaste Regional Waste Forum, I used my stakeholder engagement skills to deliver a NSW Environment Protection Authority project to reduce the illegal kerbside dumping of bulky household goods by residents of Coffs township.
Empowering my peers
Working with the Australian Association for Environmental Education- NSW Chapter (AAEE NSW), I used my research and communication skills to develop the guide and project plan template Right from the Start! A guide to planning best practice Sustainability Education and Engagement projects (below).
This guide was developed to build the capacity of the 40 sustainability educators I was mentoring as part of the 18 month AAEE NSW professional development program 'Leadership for Sustainability'.
As a result of my leadership, nine regional sustainability education networks used the guide to plan and deliver best practice projects.
I used my communication skills to develop a set of engaging case studies on these projects (see one below), including a printable snap shot format and longer online formats, which highlighted the results, challenges and lessons learned from each project.
Using my training skills I then developed a full-day workshop on best practice sustainability education and engagement, that was delivered in 13 locations across regional NSW and attended by over 400 environmental educators from government, education and community.
As well as co-ordinating the marketing and event management of these workshops, I also presented and facilitated five of these full day workshops in regional NSW.
Supporting best practice and innovation
I have been a member of a NSW Environmental Trust Technical Review Committee since 2015. In this role I use my evaluation skills and expertise in best practice to assess Environmental Education grants applications from local government and the community.
Giving back to my sector
I also do pro bono work for the Australian Association for Environmental Education (I am on the Executive of AAEE NSW) and the Great Koala National Park Steering Committee, to assist with climate leadership and strategic campaigns.
"Through her work for AAEE NSW, Erika demonstrated significant leadership, capacity, capability and commitment that significantly influenced both sustainability education professions and the community. Erika’s significant commitment to the highest quality education shows her capacity to infuse enthusiasm for environmental education. She walks the sustainability talk every day, all day".
Grahame Collier, President Australian Association for Environmental Education- NSW Chapter (AAEE NSW) 2018
"Erika has provided MidWaste with outstanding support for a range of our community behaviour change education programs both in terms of face to face work with stakeholders and writing components of large funding submissions. Erika is always enthusiastic, highly professional and her experience is a great asset for our team".
Wendy Grant, Project Officer MidWaste Regional Waste Forum
"Thank you to Erika for helping us with the 'Birds of a Feather' best practice sustainability education and engagement project. Erika secured extra time and resources to help us get the project finished after we were delayed because of the Tathra fire."
Doug Reckord, Principal Bournda Environmental Education Centre
"Erika achieved outstanding results remotely coordinating the collaboration of a dynamic team of industry leaders. Our task was challenging, with complex stakeholder needs and an evolving project scope, but Erika maintained an outcomes focus and delivered beyond our expectations".
Jem Hansen, Executive Officer Australian Association for Environmental Education- NSW Chapter (AAEE NSW)
"MidWaste engaged Erika to deliver a pilot program to combat urban illegal dumping in the Coffs Harbour region. The job entailed significant liaison with Council staff, merging the pilot project outcomes with existing protocols and processes and on-ground community engagement and liaison. We were extremely happy with the project outcomes and Erika’s performance. She provided thoughtful and thorough project delivery and open, regular communication".
Ali Bigg, Coordinator MidWaste Regional Waste Forum
Hi I’m Erika Van Schellebeck. I'm a Sustainability Engagement Consultant with over 20 years experience engaging with communities, not for profit and government to deliver environmental outcomes.
I'm available to work on projects that utilise my strategic and practical expertise in community engagement and sustainability education.
I love working with people to empower them to make their lives and workplaces more sustainable. I also love supporting my colleagues to do their important work to help our planet.
I’m just as excited today as I was 22 years ago when I first started working with our community on environmental issues.
People are now more aware than ever about our climate & biodiversity crisis and food & water security. And with education, engagement and leadership, our community can be empowered to be a part of the many exciting and achievable solutions to these problems.
My professional background
With a BA from Macquarie University in Resource and Environmental Management and a TAFE Certificate II in Bush Regeneration, I started my career with the Catchment Management Committees of western Sydney.
For the next 16 years I worked in Local Government at Willoughby and Coffs Harbour, until 2016 when I stepped out on my own and formed Eco Engage.
My contribution to our industry was acknowledged in 2018 when I was awarded Community Educator of the Year by the Australian Association of Environmental Education- NSW Chapter (AAEE NSW).
Here I am receiving my award from Costa Georgiadis (the patron of AAEE NSW) and the 2017 Educator of the Year Nick Carson.
To find out more about my career please visit my Linked In page.
Need help with a project?
Send me an email and I'll give you a call.
We can discuss your organisation's needs and find out how we can work together.
Eco Engage - Sustainability Engagement Services