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Meet Julie Phillips, a Distinguished Educator

Julie PhillipsJulie Phillips, environmental studies instructor and Morgan Family Chair in Environmental Studies, is passionate about teaching and stewardship of the earth. "We have to change the way we teach and motivate our students. We must work in teams — both faculty and students — to learn about environmental stewardship. The skills of leadership, team-building and stewardship must be taught to every student who enters De Anza College," says Phillips.

She shapes her own teaching style after basketball coach Ken Carter from Richmond High School. "We are all in this together and every member of that team or class must be successful if we are to do our job right. And we are teaching our students in the largest classroom in the world — our outdoor natural environment."

Phillips holds a bachelor's degree in recreation administration from Chico State and a master's in biological sciences from SJSU. After college she was a field biologist focused on wildlife management. "I envisioned myself tracking wildlife for my entire life," Phillips says.

Phillips was inspired to become a teacher after witnessing the environmental destruction occurring throughout California, particularly the threats to biodiversity and habitat fragmentation. "I had spent almost seven years tracking reintroduced tule elk, a subspecies of North American elk found only in California, throughout much of the southern Coastal Ranges," she says. "This experience gave me an opportunity to see both public and private lands throughout this great state - and the challenge of long-term environmental protection for the species and plant communities found on those lands."

During one of her last field studies, Phillips encountered a dead female tule elk caught in a barbed wire fence. "It was at that moment that I decided I needed to go back to the classroom and teach others about the challenges ahead to save areas large enough for these magnificent animals, and other smaller ones as well, in California. I told the elk I would be back later - to help develop long-term wildlife corridors to connect many of the 20-plus elk herds throughout the state of California."

She came to De Anza in 1988 as a part-time instructor, and has taught full time since 1993. Phillips wanted others to experience the beauty of California's wild lands, to learn be good stewards of the environment. "I had been so lucky to grow up roaming through the Santa Cruz Mountains, which helped shape who I am today," says Phillips.

She also considers herself lucky to work under the leadership of wonderful people within the BHES division and the Environmental Studies Department. "I love people! I am honored to introduce some and reintroduce others to the incredible planet we all inhabit. De Anza College is an amazing place to work — you are encouraged to visualize new ways to teach and motivate students to learn. It is my job to help push forward the sons and daughters of our collective community."

Office of Instruction
Building: ADM 128

Contact: Olga Evert
Phone: 408.864.8940


Last Updated: 9/30/08