About SEAS

SEAS brings students together to amplify youth voice in environmental problem-solving. Student presenters, green/eco teams, and classroom groups share their projects reducing waste, conserving energy, improving water quality, and preserving natural habitat in their schoolyards and communities.

SEAS allows students, teachers and administrators to network, build knowledge and gain ideas to further their school’s efforts in environmental stewardship. In addition, two dozen partner organizations such as federal, state and local agencies and NGOs provide hands-on green STEAM learning activities for the students and talk to kids about their careers.

The event is held in partnership with George Mason University’s Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) and with Earth Force, which annually hosts the Chesapeake Bay Caring for Our Watersheds competition finals as part of the event. We also partner with the Thinkabit Lab at Virginia Tech, affording students an opportunity to tackle environmental problems using programming and sensors.

Each year SEAS features an eco-art event. In past years these have included a recycled-material mascot contest, a Video Visions exhibition, a photo contest, and a music festival with performances on instruments built from recycled materials.

Elected officials, senior school personnel, corporations, state education officials, and others are invited to the event to share with the students and to become more aware of the strength of student environmental action in Northern Virginia and the importance of supporting such work.

SEAS 2020 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but you can view the entire recorded virtual SEAS 2021 and/or check out this detailed recap of SEAS 2019.

About NoVA Outside

NoVA Outside is an alliance of environmental educators, schools, businesses, nature centers, non-profits, “green” groups, government agencies, and others who strive to connect people of all ages to the natural environment. Since 2010, NoVA Outside has served as the regional network offering professional development, networking, and resource sharing in Northern Virginia.

2021 Sponsors + Sponsoring Partners

Community Foundation of Northern Virginia

Earth Force

Fairfax County Federation of Teachers

George Mason University Office of Sustainability

George Mason University’s Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center

2021 SEAS Committee

Thanks to the following people for participating in this year’s SEAS Committee!

  • Alexis Thorbecke – Earth Force
  • Kurt Moser – Co-Chair
  • Elizabeth Spike – Co-Chair
  • Dylan Persinger – Event Coordinator
  • Ben Auger – George Mason University
  • Ali Culhane – Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Jim Egenrieder – Virginia Tech
  • Jeanne Jabara – Prince William County Public Schools
  • Debra Lane – NoVA Outside
  • Peter Mecca, NoVA Outside
  • Ashley Palmer – Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District
  • Cindy Smith – George Mason University
  • Donna Volkmann – Fairfax County Public Schools

2021 Keynote Speakers

Natalia Uro De León is a 2020 graduate of Wakefield High School where she played field hockey and lacrosse and managed the wrestling team. Natalia chaired Wakefield’s Environmentally Conscious Organization of Students (ECOS). Throughout high school, she found joy in being a proactive advocate for sustainability, producing a video series for Wakefield’s media program titled ‘How to Save the World,’ in which her team covered many topics from fighting fast fashion to proper recycling methods. Natalia now attends Dickinson College studying Sustainable Business and Environmental Studies. She is an active Eco-Rep who works with the Center for Sustainability Education to create a more sustainable community through peer education, and she is a volunteer for the school’s Free xChange, a clothing swap program that also spreads awareness around fast fashion. This Earth Day, she’s ecstatic to share her story alongside her best friend Ela for the SEAS keynote address.

Ela Gokcigdem is a first-year student at Babson College. A Wakefield High School class of 2020 graduate, Ela was involved with the varsity tennis/swim team and served as the president of the History Honor Society and DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America). Outside of school, she ran her own venture called ePearl Technologies, providing customers with wireless earbuds made out of 100% recycled materials. She served as a student liaison alongside Natalia for the Arlington Public Schools Superintendent’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. At Babson, Ela continues to pursue the intersection between environmental conservation and entrepreneurship. She is a member of EarthEcho International’s Youth Leadership Council, deputy director of finance for the youth-led climate organization This Is Zero Hour, and she was recently selected as one of the youngest members of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers fellowship. On campus, she is working on redeveloping Babson’s climate action plan to turn the college’s operations carbon neutral, while also serving on the executive boards of the Sustainability Intern program, Food Recovery Network, and the Babson Sustainability Club. Like Natalia, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to talk alongside her closest friend and hopefully inspire youth across Northern Virginia to save the planet.

Distinguished Guests:2021 Our Power


    • Jennifer Boysko, Virginia State Senator
    • David Bulova, Virginia Delegate
    • Karrie Delaney, Virginia Delegate
    • Adam Ebbin, Virginia State Senator
    • Barbara Favola, Virginia State Senator
    • Celeste Land, Trustee, Land Family Foundation
    • Melanie Meren, Fairfax County School Board Member
    • Kenneth Plum, Virginia Delegate
    • Atif Qarni, Virginia Secretary of Education
    • Elaine Tholen, Fairfax County School Board Member
Keynote Speaker Natalia Uro De León
Keynote Speaker Ela Gokcigdem