firefly2 “Mapbearers, Toolkeepers, Starmakers”

Distilling his many years of experience in the field as a school teacher, youth leader, camp counselor, educational consultant, workshop trainer, curriculum writer, program developer, university professor, and conference speaker, Steve Van Matre has come up with three forgotten essences vital for anyone serving in the role of an educator on the path of life. “The word educate comes from the Latin, meaning to draw out, but today the very name educator belies what has happened to our roles; somewhere along the way ‘draw out’ seems to have become ‘cram in,’ and even for those who follow the original meaning the intent has changed. Some teachers and leaders want to draw the learning out of their students instead of drawing their students out into the adventure of the world. Ancient and indigenous people living closer to the land and thus the real sustenance of their lives saw the role of their educators in a more pragmatic and organic way. It’s time we began ‘unlearning’ much about how we see ourselves and returning to discover again the lost secrets of our first professionals.” Sprinkled with wonderful stories and unusual perspectives, this powerful talk provides seventy-five minutes of insights and ideas for creating an atmosphere conducive to meaningful learning adventures. It’s for anyone interested in sharing some lost secrets about the most important role of our times.

Winter, 2014 I felt this keynote was directed to each of us individually and collectively…. as a cry for help and a challenge for leadership. He empowered us to action, and I felt he inspired everyone on a personal note…and especially the younger folks in the audience…to be part of the change. He challenged us and motivated us. It was déjà-vu from 30 years ago when we were the youngsters in the group and wanted to be part of the leadership and take the challenge to create a better environment. He rallied so many of us then and I saw it happen again this time, but this time we need to learn from our past and join forces with the wisdom of sages and the energy of the youth. I truly was empowered by his analogy of us as the “keepers of the map.” PAEE represents the collective “keeper of the map” for PA environmental educators. We are a collective voice. We must be wise about that responsibility…review where we have been, see where we failed and where we had success, plan and create the direction for the future, and channel the voice for all of us.
Estelle Ruppert

Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Alliance for Environmental Education

Summer, 2011 Words cannot express my gratitude to you for speaking at the California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (AEOE) this past April. We have been blessed to have many wonderful speakers over the past several years of whom our membership has truly enjoyed, but lacked that certain spark that left them inspired to change the world. As this year’s conference chair I wanted someone who could do just that. Someone who would stand before a group of environmental educators battered by the economy and state standards and leave them with a sense of hope. You filled that role beautifully. Your speech, “Mapbearers, Toolkeepers, and Starmakers” was the perfect fit for our membership. It blended inspiration with humor while challenging us to do more in our field. I had many longtime members approach me during and after the conference expressing how moved they were by your words. “Best we’ve had in years,” “I can’t wait to get back to work and be a ‘Starmaker,” and “Can we have Steve speak every year?” were just a few of the comments I received. On behalf of all of us here in California, “Thank You!” for all the work you do in earth education, and for inspiring not only us but people all over the world. 1 would wholeheartedly recommend any organization I encounter to have you speak to their membership. You are a true treasure whose words and wisdom are priceless.
Jymn Meier

Chair, California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (AEOE)

Previous Comments

Steve Van Matre has traveled the world for nearly a half-century delivering well over a thousand sessions on six continents. Here is a sample of what others have had to say about the professor’s talks:

A vivid presentation, setting out clearly and unequivocally the limitations and failings of environmentalists and conservationists. The audience, all of whom would claim to be ‘green,’ was provoked into new thinking and responded with great enthusiasm. Many said that Steve Van Matre had stimulated their personal commitment, and all agreed that Outward Bound courses should more effectively promote the purpose of ‘earth education’. 
John Lagoe

Chair, International Outward Bound Conference Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom

One thought leaped to mind when I first came into contact with earth education programs: These programs are so powerful because they use the best possible applications of learning theory. It was exciting to hear Steve Van Matre present this vital aspect of the institute’s work in his powerful speech, “Mapbearers, Toolkeepers, Starmakers.” Steve challenges, inspires and motivates us to look at ourselves as educators in a thrilling new light.
Jim Blake

Environment Program Coordinator, The Third International Camping Congress

Steve Van Matre evolves his topic metaphorically -his logic reflecting pedagogy based in both reasoning and emotion. His description of the precariousness of the earth’s ecological balance is both scientific and evocative. His message conveys an appreciation for the web of life while indicating the possibility of an environmental disaster in a way that warns but does not cause despair. Professor Van Matre is an entertainer, prophet, and humorist; a cross between Mark Twain and Ernest Thompson Seton. He is a storyteller of wonder and truth.
David Kahn

executive director, North American Montessori Teachers Association Cleveland, Ohio

We were particularly pleased with how well Steue Van Matre’s challenging message was received by so many people in influential positions in education authorities. Environmental education is at last coming round to addressing some of the issues which Steve highlighted.
John Rhymer

conference host, Environmental Education Advisors Association United Kingdom

Hearing Steve Van Matre’s speech, ‘Mapbearers, Toolkeepers, Starmakers,’ I realized again that educators have a great profession. I would recommend this presentation to all students who are going to be educators, all teachers who sometimes face difficulties in their daily work, and anyone who is interested in education in general. They will find something informative.
Kozi Hayasi

Natural History Museum Chiba, Japan