Environmental Education 
Association of Indiana

Keynote Speakers

 Rue Mapp


Rue Mapp is the Founder of Outdoor Afro, a social community reconnecting African Americans with natural spaces through outdoor recreational activities.  She oversees a carefully selected and trained national volunteer leadership team of 30 men and women who represent 16 cities around the US.


Through Outdoor Afro, her non-profit organization with offices in Oakland, CA, Rue, as CEO, shares opportunities to build a broader community and leadership in nature.  Her important work has generated widespread national recognition and support.


Originally beginning in 2009 as a blog, Rue has since captured the attention and imagination of millions through a multi-media approach, grounded in personal connections and community organizing. From its grassroots beginning, now Outdoor Afro enjoys national sponsorship and is recognized by major organizations for the importance of diversity in the outdoors,


In 2010, Mapp was invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference, and subsequently to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. She was appointed program officer for the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment to oversee its grant-making program from 2010-2012.


Since that time, Mapp’s work has been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Backpacker Magazine, Ebony Magazine and Sunset Magazine and many others.


Rue’s ongoing work has been recognized with numerous Awards and Distinctions:  The Root 100 as one of the most influential African Americans in the country, Outdoor Industry Inspiration Award, 2014 National Wildlife Federation Communication award (received alongside President Bill Clinton) and in May 2015, Family Circle Magazine selected Rue as one of America’s 20 Most Influential Moms.


Mapp remains in high demand to speak around the country and in Canada about her innovative approach that has successfully connected thousands, especially from the African American community, to nature and the benefits of spending more time outdoors.


She is proud to serve on the Board of Rails to Trails Conservancy and American Camp Association. Most recently, Rue was appointed to the California State Parks Commission by Governor Jerry Brown.


A graduate of UC Berkeley (with a Degree in Art History), Rue’s skills and background make her a unique voice via the programs she has instituted through OA and enlightened a diverse community  to the wonders and benefits of the outdoors. Rue resides in Oakland CA, and is the proud mother of three active teenage children.



Dr. Leon Walls, PhD.

Dr. Leon Walls is a former electrical engineer, middle school science teacher, and currently Associate Professor of elementary science education at the University of Vermont.  Dr. Walls received his doctorate in Geoenvironmental Science Education from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN in 2009.


Along with preparing preservice teachers in the theory and methods of inquiry based science instruction, Dr. Walls also focuses on multicultural science education and education for sustainable development (ESD). Dr. Walls' research expertise is in the area of the nature of science (NOS) particularly as it pertains to very young learners of science.  With an emphasis on equity and social justice, Dr. Walls is especially interested in NOS views of young children of color as participants in his research.


Two of his select research studies are:

Third grade African American students' views of the nature of science

Awakening a dialogue: A critical race theory analysis of U.S. nature of science research from 1967 to 2013.

In his spare time Dr. Walls writes poetry and is a singer/songwriter performing locally in the Burlington and Montpelier area of Vermont with his group CBT.


My talk:

My session will focus on my relationship with music and in particular the many ways songs are developed.  I will share some of the interesting paths that I have often taken to bring random thought and words to fruition as a song ... I will of course, also perform some of my own original music and some familiar cover tunes. 


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