The more we understand about our connection to the environment, the more possibilities we have to influence how those connections impact our health and our planet. That’s where environmental education (EE) comes in. As students understand their relationship to the natural environment—its impact on us and, in turn, our impact on it—they become increasingly aware of how their small, individual actions add up to a big difference. EE offers countless opportunities to improve lives, protect the environment, and prepare all students to address critical challenges ahead.
The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) invites everyone to celebrate National Environmental Education Week, April 23-29, 2018. Educators, students, government agencies, businesses, and community members are partnering with others to inspire environmental learning and encourage stewardship of our natural resources. NEEF encourages that this week, people explore their own connection to the environment, showcase how they are making a difference on behalf of the environment, and share their stories with others.
The NEEF website offers links to a variety of resources that support EE in the classroom. Teachers can choose from several toolkits that feature activity guides and lesson plans on different topics. In addition, resources are available for local businesses to use with employees to promote sustainable practices in the workplace; for Non-Profits and Community Groups to use to support school projects and youth programs; and for Health and Wellness Professionals to use to promote healthy lifestyles and improve environmental quality.
Experts at Stanford University analyzed studies that measured the impacts of EE for K-12 students. Not surprisingly, the studies clearly showed that students taking part in EE programming gained knowledge about the environment. But learning about the environment is just the tip of the iceberg. Studies in the review demonstrated that EE has led to a number of positive impacts, from improving academic performance, to enhancing critical thinking skills, to developing personal growth and life-building skills including confidence, autonomy, and leadership. In addition, a number of the studies showed that EE increased civic engagement and positive environmental behaviors.
What Can You Do to Promote National EE Week?
- LEARN about what is happening at your school or in your local community aimed at helping students and families understand their impact on the environment.
- DO something that demonstrates your connection to the environment and that shows the possibilities of collective impact.
- SHARE stories and ideas of how environmental education leads to a healthier planet and healthier, happier people.
Join thousands of educators across the country in supporting National Environmental Education Week. Tag your friends and colleagues using hashtags #EEWeek2018 or #EEin Action.
Director of Environmental Education
Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education