Within the United States and in Connecticut, the need for comprehensive environmental education has never been greater. The health of Connecticut’s future depends on its citizens being environmentally literate and able to make informed choices about environmental issues such as water use, air quality, and land development. Connecticut, along with many of its sister states and conservation organizations, is working with the federal government to create Environmental Literacy Plans (ELP) to prepare today’s youth to become tomorrow’s stewards of the environment.
What is environmental literacy?
- A fundamental understanding of the systems of the natural world and the interactions between the living and non-living environments
- The ability to make responsible decisions based on scientific, economic, aesthetic, and ethical considerations
- The confidence and motivation to exercise rights and responsibilities as a member of a community
How is environmental literacy achieved? Environmental education is the learning process through which citizens attain environmental literacy. Environmental educators provide hands-on, place-based activities that weave real world experiences into the classroom. Environmental education is neither an addition to, nor a replacement for, standard classroom curricula.
Environmental education has been shown to contribute to overall academic achievement. Quantitative and qualitative studies highlight the immense benefits of an integrated environmental education framework. In Lieberman’s 1998 study of 39 schools, 92% of the students who were taught using the environment as the integrating context “academically outperform(ed) their peers in traditional programs.”
Evidence gathered from this same study indicates that students learn more effectively within an environment-based context than within a traditional educational framework.
Observed benefits include:
- Better performance on standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies
- Reduced discipline and classroom management problems
- Increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning
- Greater pride and ownership in accomplishments
Why does Connecticut need an Environmental Literacy Plan?
There are a couple of bills working their way through the U.S. Senate and Congress that are likely to include new language and funding that supports environmental education. One of those bills, No Child Left Inside, currently includes $500 million to equip teachers with the skills, knowledge, and confidence needed to integrate the environment into their curricula.
Only states with qualifying Environmental Literacy Plans will be eligible for a percentage of this funding. COEEA has been supporting the No Child Left Inside Coalition since 2007. The No Child Left Inside Coalition is a broad-based organization made up of nearly 1000 member groups from across the United States. The membership, which is growing steadily, includes environmental, educational, business, public health, outdoor recreation and conservation groups.
The Coalition’s focus is passage of the federal No Child Left Inside Act. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the NCLI Act in September 2008, on a bipartisan vote of 293 to 109. The legislation is expected to be re-introduced in the new Congress in early 2009. The lead sponsors are Rep. John P. Sarbanes of Maryland and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
Regardless of the status of the federal legislation, this is a timely concern. In our media-rich world, children are exposed daily to environmental news stories that range from global climate change to natural disasters to local fish kills. We need to ensure that our children have the critical thinking skills and content knowledge to process and assess this information effectively.
An Environmental Literacy Plan for Connecticut will be the stepping-stone for our state’s future. It is imperative that we act now to prepare today’s students-tomorrow’s policy makers with the proper knowledge and skills to make critical decisions regarding our global and local resources.
Please Download our Case For Support Brochure.
In order for Connecticut’s Environmental Literacy Plan to become a reality we will need your help. There are several levels of invovlement you can select from and add your voice and support to the project.
Levels of Support
I support the development of the Environmental Literacy Plan for the State of Connecticut!
Add your name or organization name to the list of supporters to help us make the goal of 100 organizations and/or 10000 individuals who see the need for a plan to support a more environmentally literate public. I will help publicize the project and participate in letters of support and basic advocacy for this project when needed.
Select this level and we will add you to the list of supporters to keep you informed of developments as the plan progresses by email.
I support the development of the Environmental LiteracyPlan for the State of Connecticut and wish to help in the promotion of the project through my member organization and publicize it by assisting with press and promotion of the plan, the process, and the product that develops.
Select this level of involvement and you will be part of the network of supporters who sill aide us in getting the word out by helping write press releases and sending out notices via a network of contacts at schools, associations and/or clubs. You will help in promotion of the ELP and in developing the support network by adding your name or organization to the list of supporters.
I support the development of the Environmental Literacy Plan for the State of Connecticut and will serve on the implementation committee for the Environmental Literacy Plan.
Selecting this level of participation commits you to being part of the second phase of the plan. This includes bringing the plan to action, re-evaluation as needed, promotion and application of the No Child Left inside Act.
I support the development of the Environmental Literacy Plan for the State of Connecticut and want to help in the design and review of the plan.
By selecting this level of commitment you are signing up for the writing/review process including participation in full-day writing workshops.