The main goals of environmental education include raising awareness of issues affecting the environment, providing tools and knowledge to address these problems, and fostering involvement in activities that are designed to tackle environmental matters and encourage problem solving. For example, educational programs can help kids learn about the importance of recycling and its role in reducing waste. Moreover, studies have shown that students who participate in environmental education improve their academic test scores and often develop an interest in environmental careers.
Environmental education is not only for children, though. Adults can also greatly benefit from it. If you want to learn more about saving the environment, you can sign up for a variety of programs both online and in person. The following are but a few of the many options available:
Based in Seattle, Washington, IslandWood was founded in 2001. The organization not only educates children about the environment, it also provides valuable resources for educators to share with their students.
IslandWood has a wide variety of programs that provide comprehensive instruction on environmental issues. The School Overnight Program, for example, is a three-day immersive that takes place on Bainbridge Island, near downtown Seattle. This program gives kids and their teachers the opportunity to explore natural resources and gain a deeper understanding of the environment in which they live.
Complimenting its children’s educational curricula, IslandWood partners with the University of Washington’s College of Education to offer two master’s degree programs in education: Urban Environmental Education and Education for Environment and Community. Through these programs, IslandWood demonstrates its commitment to ensuring educators have the breadth of knowledge required to adequately confront the great challenges facing the planet and lead the next generation into heightened environmental awareness.
In addition to its higher education offerings and school-based programs, IslandWood also hosts a variety of summer camps and Action Summits. IslandWood’s Action Summits are designed to promote social and environmental change by facilitating discussions among individuals on a local and national scale. Action Summits cover topics ranging from the environment to health and take place on IslandWood’s 255-acre campus.
In our increasingly sedentary society, school-age children spend very little time outdoors and therefore have little environmental awareness. To remedy this problem, schools in many states have sought to bring environmental education into the schoolroom, even holding class outdoors in some cases. Outdoor school programs seek to allow kids to spend more of their school day outdoors and strive to give kids pertinent information on the world around them and what they can do to mitigate environmental issues.
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is one of the most widely utilized programs in schools across America. With the goal of begin the environmental education process early, this award-winning program has trained more than 500,000 teachers, parents, and community workers to provide an environmental-focused curriculum to millions of kids.
To improve environmental education programs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided schools with dedicated grant funds. These grants are geared to the precise environmental challenges being faced in each state.
We ACT for Environmental Justice
We ACT is an organization based in New York City that believes in empowering the community with knowledge of dire environmental issues and what we need to do to fix these problems. Since 2000, the group has collaborated with the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health in an effort to educate over 600,000 adults and kids on the environment. We ACT also encourages students to explore environmental and health-related career paths and regularly hosts forums, trainings, and conferences to accomplish these goals.
We ACT promotes what it refers to as “environmental literacy” and works with local, state, and federal agencies to create programming that furthers its mission. Further, the organization seeks to tie together the political policies that affect the environment of everyday people. Following 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which decimated the East Coast of the United States, We ACT worked to raise awareness of the political and environmental fallout of the super storm.
Although these are just a few of the environmental education initiatives available, the field of environmental education continues to grow. Environmental Education programs are giving more and more people the necessary tools to help solve our environmental crisis.