Dear EcoRise Community,

My name is Denise Ortiz, and I teach AP Environmental Science and Aquatic Science at New Braunfels High School in Central Texas. As EcoRise’s winter fundraising campaign enters its final weeks, I’m here to tell you first-hand how this organization has changed the lives of my students and empowered me as a teacher leader.

My initial draw to EcoRise was its ready-to-go curriculum and student innovation funds. EcoRise provided seamless resources, support, and expert feedback. I was able to enliven my classroom using small-group instruction, student-led learning strategies, and community collaboration. As a result, students walked into my classroom ready to learn. Now, they have the opportunity to develop real-world solutions to environmental and social issues. This type of experiential learning is what school should be all about!

Not only has working with EcoRise strengthened my teaching skills, but it has provided me with professional development and leadership opportunities. I became an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador to “give back”—because I have seen first-hand how invested EcoRise’s staff is, both in student learning and in building relationships with teachers. As a Teacher Ambassador, I facilitate EcoRise professional workshops for new teachers, write curriculum, and collaborate with peers. I love that I can connect with teachers who share the same devotion to their students and sustainability education. In this role, I have sharpened my leadership, organizational, communication, and networking skills. These opportunities impact teachers by proving a clear and concise vision for their own classrooms.

I am thoroughly impressed at how EcoRise never loses its focus on students and teachers. The organization has made a huge impact on my students’ leadership and problem-solving skills. And it has had a huge impact on me: With over 20 years’ experience, I still had never quite seen myself as a leader, and I carried a fair amount of self-doubt into my classroom. EcoRise leadership training and staff have provided the safety net and support to help me become a strong, independent, confident advocate and high-performing science educator.

Help EcoRise bring resources, community, and opportunities to new teachers across the U.S. by donating this giving season. Any amount you choose to give, whether one-time or monthly, will go a long way in helping to support teachers like me who are preparing the next generation to create a more sustainable world for us all.

A monthly donation of $10 will give three teachers access to eco-literacy curricula while $100 per month will sponsor one Teacher Ambassador like me to become a community leader and local champion of environmental education programming. The EcoRise Board and Advisory Council are matching one-time and the first monthly donations up to $12,000, so consider donating today.

Thank you for your support of EcoRise teachers and students!

Together, #WeRise.

Denise Ortiz
AP Environmental Science and Aquatic Science Teacher
New Braunfels High School, Texas

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