The feds are scrambling to fill spots to train employees on the “environmental mountain.”

According to an internal email obtained by The Washington Times, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “environmental mountain” training is more widespread than originally thought and has already been conducted in “many” regions of the agency.

But the agency was struggling to fill all the spots in Friday’s upcoming training round, with 10 of the 35 slots unclaimed as of Tuesday.

“We still have a few spots available for this training, which is open to everyone,” organizer Kathryn Hill asked in an email to colleagues. “The purpose of this workshop is to care for our people working in these challenging environments: to help you all build resilience, recognize stressors, understand loss and be empowered to take care of yourself.”

Environmental grief is the name some psychologists have given to the distress that some people experience due to environmental change.

FWS, an agency within the Department of the Interior, pays $4,000 for each virtual session, which is funded through the agency’s regular training and employee development budget.

A spokeswoman said the training was being carried out in response to “employee request”.

The training, first reported last month by The Washington Times, has become a lightning rod for criticism.

Representative Ryan Zinke, who served as interior secretary in the Trump administration, said that if someone had brought the idea of ​​environmental education to him, he would have thought it was a joke.

“I would have kicked them out of office, whoever suggested that,” the Montana Republican told The Times.

Mr. Zinke now sits on a subcommittee that oversees funding for the department, and he said Republicans would deny funding for this kind of activity and then go find other slackers.

“There’s no way we’re going to let this go,” he said. “The question is, if it can get through the approval process somewhere, what else is there? What else are taxpayers paying for?”

Transgender Day of Visibility

Some FWS officials see the environmental mountain training as the latest in a series of agency initiatives that they say are forcing a “wake up” agenda on employees.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has announced its first ever Transgender Day of Visibility summit on March 29.

“Hear inspiring stories from DOI colleagues, learn about the different ways you can become an ally, discover best practices for supporting employees in the workplace, and celebrate the importance of the day with our colleagues, leaders and keynote speakers,” department staff were told.

The summit, which is held virtually, lasts more than four hours on a midweek business day.

Employees also questioned the content of mandatory diversity training.

One trainer referred to the staff as a non-binary gender queer and insisted that the staff not use the label “male”.

One employee said it was particularly surprising for the Fish and Wildlife Service, a scientific agency where biologists are trained to recognize and classify animals as male and female.

Ecogrief is part of a family of new terms to describe distress. It is also called “climate grief” or “environmental anxiety”.

The American Psychological Association says it can manifest as feelings of being overwhelmed by massive changes in the environment, or even a sense of “anticipated loss” — essentially mourning what one sees as inevitable, especially with climate change.

The association acknowledged in a 2020 article that “not much is known about climate grief” and said there have been no clinical studies on how to treat it.

But the group suggested that the concerns affect young people more than older people, and also hit indigenous people harder because they are more likely to be affected by climate change.

Climate scientists and activists would make for particularly acute suffering, the association said.

FWS training is provided by Tom Kalus, a psychologist who specializes in emotional intelligence workshops; Michelle Doerr, a wildlife biologist who offered FWS preliminary courses on self-care and the language of cooperation; and Jimmy Fox, FWS staff.

The Times reached out to Mr Fox for comment on the ecogory training but did not hear back.

Ecogriff training is voluntary. The course, which The Times learned of, is offered by the FWS Southwest Region, which covers Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.

After the session on Friday, April 5, there will be another one.

waste of time’

Ms Hill, the organiser, who asked staff to sign up, said the training had previously been “offered in many of our other regions with great response”.

FWS told The Times in a statement that the training took place in Alaska and the agency’s Southeast region.

Ms. Hill said in her email to staff that the training was in line with the agency’s core value of “caring for people.”

“The challenges that affect our conservation work, our neighbors and the communities in which we live, work and recover are constantly changing, including droughts, wildfires, the decline or loss of species, habitat loss and impacts on public recreation outdoors,” she said.

Representative Tom Tiffany, Republican of Wisconsin and a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, called the training “a colossal waste of time and resources.”

“The Home Office should perhaps focus a little less on promoting fringe environmental bigotry in the workplace and a little more on better land management practice and lower prices at the pump,” he said.

Representative Harriet Hageman, speaking on the House floor last month, called the training “another example of the insanity of Wookism that permeates our society.”

The Wyoming Republican has vowed to take action to stop the spending.

“For our friends at the Fish and Wildlife Service who may be watching this speech, you might want to take this workshop on ecological grief now before we legislate it out of existence,” she said.

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