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Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Program for Teens (GELS)

The University of New Mexico Continuing Education (UNMCE) is proud to partner with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Extension, to offer a week-long Academic Connections program in New Mexico. The program, which runs from July 21-28 2016, will introduce participants to the biodiversity and cultural diversity of the Land of Enchantment.

Benefits of the Program

  • College-level scientific research with university professors, presentation skills and leadership training with a skilled instructor
  • Exploration of the geology of the Sandia Mountains, the Pajarito Plateau and life on a working Pueblo
  • Learning to take the lead in sustaining our planet environmentally
  • Earn college prep units and recognition for program participation on college admission applications
  • Study with other like-minded academic students from all over the country

New Mexico Residents: The $100 application fee is waived for all New Mexico residents applying for the New Mexico Academics Connections program.

Apply to the Environmental Leadersip Program

Scientists & Supervisors

Dr. Edward Abeyta, Director of K-16 Programs at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension

Prior to joining UCSD Extension in 1995, Edward began his service at UCSD as a counselor for the Early Academic Outreach Program serving underrepresented students in San Diego high schools and later assumed the role of Registrar and Director of Academic Services at UCSD Extension. Dr. Abeyta has a BA from the University of New Mexico, a MA from the University of San Diego and a Ph.D. from Capella University. Edward has been recognized from UCSD and the UC Office of the President for his involvement in staff diversity and development initiatives. In 2008, he was selected to a two-year term as the Staff Advisor to the Regents. He currently serves on the UC Diversity commission, Post-retirement Task Force, and the Regents UC Commission on the Future.

Don Barrie, Instructor at UC San Diego (UCSD)

Don Barrie is an instructor for University of California San Diego’s Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability program. He is a professor at San Diego Mesa College, where he chairs the physical sciences department and teaches courses in geology, earth science, physical geography, and science education for prospective teachers. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in geology from Humboldt State University and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, respectively. In addition, he holds professional registrations in geology and engineering geology. Don regularly gives lectures and runs field trips with the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA) and other organizations. Don has been involved in UCSD's program since 2012, working with researchers from U of Arizona, U of New Mexico, and U of Hawai'i, teaching students about the environment and how to care for the earth. Before becoming an educator, he worked as an environmental consultant both domestically and abroad, in California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam. As an educator, his passion is to make geoscience accessible to general audiences.

Amy K. Greene, Youth Programs Supervisor, UNM Continuing Education

Amy has more than 10 years of progressively increasing responsibility and engagement with youth development, service-learning, and nonprofit management. Her academic background includes a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from the University of Rhode Island, and a Master of Public Administration from Suffolk University in Boston, MA. Her past experiences include coordinating a teen green jobs program, counseling at-risk adolescents in a court-ordered assessment program, directing offices of community service in higher education, and leading international service trips for young adults. She currently serves on the board of the New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community. She is looking forward to combining her love of education and the natural environment to support the Global Environmental Leadership & Sustainability program.

Susan Moerder, Program Coordinator at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension

Susan Moerder is the Program Coordinator and Lead Instructor for University of California San Diego’s Global Environmental Leadership and Sustainability program. She is a member of the Advisory Board of CASL (California Association of Student Leaders) and teaches presentation and leadership skills. Susan is also an instructor for Rotary International, training Interact officers and advisors. She has been recognized for her excellence in teaching with Stanford University’s Teacher Tribute Award (2007), The Mulliken Award for Excellence in Teaching (2008), was named Outstanding Leadership Advisor for San Diego and Imperial Counties (1995) by the California Association of Directors of Activities and was inducted into their Hall of Fame (2008). Susan has been involved in UCSD’s program since 2011 working with researchers from U of Arizona, U of New Mexico and U of Hawai’i teaching students how to be leaders in caring for the earth. Susan has led groups to Hawai’i, Mexico, Ecuador, Arizona, New Mexico and Washington D.C., teaching leadership and training participants to address current climate issues and make positive changes in the world.

Robie Wittman, Program Manager at UC San Diego (UCSD) Extension

Robie Wittman has over 20 years of experience at UCSD providing project management, strategic planning and operational support. Robie was also an investor relations specialist and stock plan administrator for Websense, the global leader in Web filtering software. In 2010, Robie leveraged her combined experience in the public/private sector and higher education by assuming the role as UCSD Extension K-16 Program manager. Her program portfolio includes the UCSD LAUNCH undergraduate program, Academic Connections Research Scholars and studies, College Exploration courses and High School Independent Studies.


  • The University of New Mexico - Albuquerque, NM
  • Jemez Pueblo, NM
  • Los Alamos, NM
  • Sandia Peak Tram - Albuquerque, NM
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM