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DCC Career Exploration Series: Nature Based Practice in Social Work

December 8, 2023 @ 1:00 pm 2:00 pm

Join Starla Simmons, LCSW-S and Erin Cantrell-Martinez as they discuss their eco-therapy backgrounds and share ways to bring more nature awareness into social work. RSVP here!

Starla Simmons, LCSW-S is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Earl Maxwell Scholar Program at the UT Steve Hicks School of Social Work. She is strongly rooted in racial justice and liberation, with a passion for supporting the vitality, resilience, and collectivism of Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. Starla has over a decade of experience as a school social worker, providing a range of direct care services to students, families, and staff. She worked as the liaison and coordinator for Austin ISD’s School Mental Health Centers, providing consultation and operational support for school-based therapy services at 19 middle and high schools.

Starla is a skilled and experienced facilitator around racial equity, social justice and holistic practices such as mindfulness and eco-therapy. Previously, she served as Interim Executive Director for Black Mamas ATX, and Board Chair for Mama Sana Vibrant Woman. In 2016, Starla served as Austin leader for the national non-profit Outdoor Afro, which celebrates and inspires Black leadership in nature. Currently, she sits on the Board of UT Elementary School and is the faculty liaison for the Environmental Justice & Ecotherapy (EJET) student organization and Black Student and Scholars Network at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work.

At home, Starla is mama Bear to her two children Maya and Langston and spirited partner to her husband, Thomas. She loves exploring natural swimming holes, sitting under trees, camping and creative expression.

Erin Cantrell-Martinez, a creative minded social and environmental justice and wellness advocate, has a keen interest in helping provide more equitable access to both traditional and nontraditional career opportunities in the field of social work. As an advocate of creating equitable and sustainable food access, Erin is an alumna of Farming In Relationship to Earth program at SoulFire Farm and an Immersion Program Applicant Reviewer for their 2023 programs. Her personal mission is reconnecting folks with their inner compass and innate gifts through the intersection of social justice, wellness, nature, creative writing, and art. She holds a BA in Liberal Arts with concentrations in anthropology and music from Sarah Lawrence College, a Masters Certificate in Healthcare Policy and Administration from CUNY School of Professional Studies and an ecotherapy certification from the Earthbody Institute.