You Have the Power to Empower

“My first Bioneers experience was one of the most emotionally uplifting 72 hours of my life! Bioneers brings solutions to life… in a most electrifying and loving environment.” – Mimi Riley, Sociology Instructor at Butte College

In 2007, after Mimi Riley attended the Bioneers Conference in California for the first time, she began raising funds for and coordinating the attendance of Butte College faculty and students every fall.

Prior to receiving enough funding to get herself and her students to the conference, Mimi used her own money to pay for their registrations – which is not an easy commitment to make living on a teacher’s salary. But thanks to the generosity of Bioneers donors, Mimi’s students and fellow teachers have benefited greatly from the John Mohawk Conference Scholarship Fund, receiving both partial and full scholarships over the years.

Since attending the Bioneers conference, Mimi has designed and disseminated campus-wide sustainability education materials, and aided in the creation of a Sustainability Studies certificate program at Butte College.

Most of the instructors teaching within the Sustainability Studies program at Butte College have incorporated Bioneers plenary videos into their curriculum. Students are well acquainted with what and who the Bioneers are before they enter into Butte’s Capstone Seminar program, which centers on attendance at the conference in October.

Mimi says: “That first year, I was amazed at the effect the 3-day conference had on the students. They were instantly electrified (current sunlight!), inspired, and motivated to make big changes in their own lives, on our campus and in our community as a whole.

“I’ll never forget the words and range of emotions these students expressed as they shared their experience. They were crying, laughing, loving, supporting and bonding with each other in a way that I had never witnessed in my years of teaching. One 24 year-old male student confessed, “ I feel like I have been wasting my whole life up to this point hiding behind video games. Now I have been touched and I know that my life must and can count for something way beyond myself.”

You have the power to empower the next generation of visionary educators and students by donating to the John Mohawk Scholarship Fund today.

Butte Community College’s relationship with Bioneers has transformed its institutional culture to prioritize and focus on sustainability.

  • Every year after attending the conference, students have conceived of and coordinated inspiring campus-wide initiatives.  They designed and gained funding for a restoration project on campus. They instituted a healthy food initiative that incorporates organic gardening and a monthly Eat Local vegan lunch that serves the entire campus. They created a national student sustainability initiative called Camp UBUNTU. And they linked up with the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSCS), and will be instituting a chapter of CSCS on their campus in 2012.
  • Butte students have advocated for policy changes at the institutional level, calling for change in cafeteria purchasing policies, which culminated in the hiring of a new organic-minded food services director. Perhaps most importantly, the students have pushed to reorganize the structure of the Associated Students council to include a new component, The Student Alliance for Sustainability, to make sustainability the “lens through which everything else on campus is viewed.”
  • Initiating community-based projects has also played an important role for students returning from attending the Bioneers conference. Pathways to Change is a collaborative organic garden project in a low-income minority neighborhood in Oroville.Gleaning Chico gathers volunteers to go to orchards and private yards to gather up unused fruit and vegetables to distribute to the local homeless shelter.
  • Students are also empowered to advocate on behalf of issues about which they are passionate, traveling all over the state and country to make their voices heard within government about fracking, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline,and other fossil fuel issues.
  • At a time when leadership development remains a critical gap, and many established leaders are aging and becoming invaluable elders, there is little infrastructure to help develop young leaders and connect across generations and interest areas.

As a Community of Leadership and Mentors, Bioneers is filling in the leadership gap. Butte College is proof positive that participating in the Bioneers conference has profound effects on the capacity of both educators and students to collaborate for change on school campuses and in communities.

Won’t you help us fill the leadership gap by making a donation to the John Mohawk Conference Scholarship Fund today? Your contribution will provide full and partial scholarships to dynamic educators, young people, indigenous people, people of color, young and low-income women leaders and other community-based change-makers.

You have the power to empower!

Please give what you can and give generously. Future generations are counting on us. Thank you!

With grateful appreciation,

Nina Simons and Kenny Ausubel

Bioneers Co-Founders & Co-CEOs


2012 Conference Educator scholarships give educators access to a dynamic scope of sustainability materials and opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer learning to support integration into their year-round teaching and curriculum. Highlights include a participatory network formation workshop and evening reception, a session exploring the transformation of education, and the availability of Continuing Education Credits.

Learn more about the education programming at this year’s conference to see how your gift today can transform our educational institutions to prioritize and focus on sustainability.

2012 Conference Youth Scholarships  enable youth to engage for the full three days in skill sharing, leadership development, networking and project collaborations with other youth from across the country. Highlights this year include talks from Brower Youth Award winners, Rhiannon Tomtishen, Madison Vorva, De’Anthony Jones and Rachel Barge. Also, youth will have the opportunity to participate in 12 interactive panels, workshops, campaign connections and special events, including a panel on jobs, an interactive workshop on eco-apartheid, a collective art mural and a slam poetry contest, just to name a few!

Learn more about the youth programming at this year’s conference to see what a difference your gift today will make in the lives of young change-makers from around the country.

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