There is a famous expanse of quaking aspen in Richfield, Utah, that has been given the name Pando, which is Latin for “I spread out.” To the untrained eye, Pando looks like thousands of individual aspen trees stretching across the rolling fields. But looks can be deceiving: Pando, or the Quaking Giant, is actually one ancient, massive organism. (It really is. Google it.)
As early childhood professionals, we’re part of an ecosystem like that, and our root structure is just as intertwined as Pando’s. Every day, we build early childhood homes, classrooms, schools, and communities moment by moment, extending our connections through nurturing care, supportive interactions, intentional teaching, and more. And while those encounters with children and families are deeply sustaining, our work can isolate many of us from others in our field.
That’s where NAEYC affiliates play a huge role. When I started working in early childhood over 15 years ago, I did not know where to turn for collegial camaraderie, leadership development, or collective action in our state. But on my first Rhode Island AEYC retreat, I found my local professional home. Over the years, I served in many capacities, and I learned about a whole lot more than early childhood. Our affiliate testified at the state house on critical legislation for children and families; we managed several critical state contracts for professional development, resource and referral, and Rhode Island’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS); we hosted the annual state early childhood conference.
Without the experience our local affiliate provided, I would not have developed the leadership skills that I bring to my work today. And having met other leaders from across the country at NAEYC affiliate events, I benefited from a whole new network of supportive colleagues who encouraged me even further.
That’s why I’m proud to serve on NAEYC’s Affiliate Advisory Council. In this role, alongside vibrant professionals from across the country, I get to support all of our affiliates, their members, and their leaders as we walk together to advance our noble profession. It’s an amazing time to get involved—and I encourage you to do so!
If that sounds enticing, why not spread out and become part of the root system of our growing profession by applying to serve on the Affiliate Advisory Council? Just stop by the NAEYC website (NAEYC.org/get-involved/leadership) or contact the council at email@example.com. Your reach can be far greater than you think!
Chris Amirault is a school director for Tulsa Educare in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He also serves on NAEYC’s Affiliate Advisory Council.