Alumnus Fosters Diversity and Inclusion for Students as Educator and PBS Consultant
As a student assistant in Allegheny College’s Creek Connections environmental education program, Will Tolliver Jr. ’14 wrote grants, developed lesson plans, coordinated school visits, and taught students in the U.S. and abroad about the significance of water quality.
Tolliver’s time with Creek Connections would ignite his career providing accessible, equitable education for the next generation.
“Creek Connections was the foundation of my professional experience,” says Tolliver, who earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and sustainability with a minor in community and justice studies. “The administrative and thought leadership that was demonstrated also helped cultivate an understanding of what it takes to be a good leader.”
After graduating from Allegheny College, Tolliver served as a project manager for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, where he created interactive nature programs. He continued to develop, implement, and teach programs to students under the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and Grow Pittsburgh in the coming years. These opportunities allowed him to cultivate relationships with community organizations, school districts, and other stakeholders. With Grow Pittsburgh, for example, Tolliver taught students about the food supply and helped maintain a corresponding garden.
“The environmental studies major has given me a strong sense of understanding ecosystems, how everything is interconnected,” Tolliver says. “ It has also given me a strong content knowledge and expertise. I’ve developed numerous environmental programs. I can speak confidently on the environment.”
In 2018, Tolliver became the manager of early childhood learning at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, where he managed the early childhood staff and improved exhibits. During the pandemic, he taught an environmental education class at Allegheny College as a visiting professor.
Currently, he advises the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) as an education and equity consultant. Tolliver has been recognized as a PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion for an approach to learning that fosters diversity and inclusion for students.
“The biggest reward I can think of is that ‘ah-ha moment from a student or a learner where something clicks, and they get what you’re saying, especially if they don’t know something or if it’s their first time trying something,” Tolliver says. “I appreciate that I get to be a part of their growth. That’s the biggest impact.”