A world of hurt: Workshops aim to help federal employees cope with ‘ecogrief’
– The Washington Times
The Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service is offering “ecogrief” training to employees who are struggling with a sense of trauma or loss as they witness a changing environment.
The class will give staffers a chance to define what they mean by ecological grief, space to examine their emotional reactions and tools to grapple with those feelings, the agency said in a note to employees in the Southwest region, where the training is offered.
Those who sign up will be led to “find ways to act while caring for themselves.”
“This 4-hour workshop seeks to normalize the wide range of emotional responses that conservationists experience while empowering participants to act while taking care of themselves,” the notice said. “The workshop is intended for those experiencing ecological grief and for those who wish to support them.”
The workshop is being offered twice to employees in the Southwest, which covers Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Up to 35 people can attend a workshop.
The Washington Times sent multiple inquiries to Fish and Wildlife for this article.
The agency responded to the initial inquiry by asking for more details on the notice, but it did not provide answers to The Times’ questions, including queries about cost or whether regions besides the Southwest were offering similar training.
Congressional Republicans panned the course as a boondoggle.
“When I first heard of the ‘ecogrief’ class sponsored by FWS, I thought this was a joke,” said Rep. Pete Stauber, Minnesota Republican and member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“This is taxpayer waste, plain and simple, and our House Republican majority will be holding this administration accountable,” he said.
Ecogrief is part of a family of terms to describe distress. It also has been labeled “climate grief” or “ecoanxiety.”
The American Psychological Association says it can manifest as a sense of being overwhelmed by the immensity of changes to the environment, or even a sense of “anticipated loss” — essentially mourning what someone believes to be inevitable, particularly with climate change.
The APA acknowledged in a 2020 article that “not much is known about climate grief” and said there were no clinical studies on treatments.
One Fish and Wildlife employee, who asked not to be named, pointed to a massive backlog of projects at the agency and said there are better ways to spend money than on ecogrief training.
“The FWS is in absolute crisis when it comes to funding and staffing,” the employee said. “Most refuges I know have lost 50 to 60% of their staff over the last 12 years. And yet consider how much time, money, energy and staff time is being spent on spreading the woke message.”
The employee cast the ecogrief training as part of a larger push toward that “woke” agenda.