The Centre for Ecological Learning has been created to foster ecological wellbeing for ourselves and the planet. We do this by supporting people of all ages to experience to experience Earth-based, immersive, educational experiences that deepen our relationship with ourselves and the natural world. These experiences nourish, inspire and equip participants with the knowledge and skills to go forth and adopt more ecologically sustainable ways of living in their personal lives and local community.
We are biologically and psychologically hard-wired to live in the natural world but many of us don’t get enough wild-time for our own good. We believe every person needs the opportunity to reawaken their wild nature, repair their connection to the planet, and through this, comes the motivation to make a positive difference in the world. The survival of human civilisation beyond this century depends on it.
Based on years of research and experience, the Centre for Ecological Learning offers a series of meaningful and authentic walks, camps, and presentations to support people of all to develop a sense of awe of, deepen their relationship with, and increase the value people place on nature.
Our story began in 2007 as the Bellingen Environmental Youth Experience (Bellingen EYE) when a small group of high school students decided to “go bush”, under the mentorship of two of their former teachers. Weekend camps and bushwalks led to a deepening connection to nature, which saw the young people build leadership skills, express their creativity, find their voice, and become empowered community change agents. In 2011, a group of EYE mentors formalised and expanded the organisation to the Centre for Ecological Learning Inc.
A unique strength of our organisation are the far-reaching and long lasting partnerships we create. We are part of the Jalligirr Biodiversity Alliance, and lead partner for the Coffs Coast Regional Science Hub and Bellingen Sustainability Learning Alliance. Founded in 2011, CEL has worked with a range of partners through our projects and alliances. These include Bellingen High School, Bellingen Urban Landcare, Taronga Zoo, VicZoos, Cascade Environmental Education Centre, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Bellingen Shire Council.
CEL is a registered charity and has Deductible Gift Recipient status. CEL has established a Public Fund for the specific purpose of supporting our environmental education objectives through donations and gift funding.
Lisa Siegel and Andrew Turbill are two of the co-founding members of CEL and speak publicly about nature connection behalf of CEL.
Lisa Siegel has a Masters in Education from Columbia University in New York, and a Masters in Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney, and is currently undertaking PhD research in Environmental Education at Southern Cross University. She is a fellow with the Australian School of Social Entrepreneurs and convenor of the Mid North Coast Sustainability Educators Network.
Andrew Turbill is a one of a kind environmental educator, leading climate change science communicator, and wildlife naturalist. He has a professional career in conservation land management and environmental education, both as a private consultant, and with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Andrew has two decades of practical experience developing innovative nature connection programs for youth, businesses and community along the East Coast of Australia and is a founding member of the Mid River Group of Environmental Educators.
CEL is governed by a Board of Directors with vast experience who help to guide the direction of CEL. Our facilitators and mentors have many years of experience running programs that change people’s lives. Their depth of knowledge and passion make our projects truly inspirational.