What is Environmental Literacy?
Environmental literacy is having an understanding of the natural world and the ability to make decisions about the environment based on scientific, economic, aesthetic and ethical considerations.
How is Environmental Literacy Attained?
Environmental literacy is gained through the process of Environmental Education where citizens build knowledge and awareness of the total environment and its associated challenges.
Why Does This Matter?
Research indicates that Environmental Education not only builds environmental literacy but also increases:
- Overall student academic engagement and motivation
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Academic achievement and performance on assessments
- Collaboration and communication
- Physical and mental health
- Positive collaboration among educators
Whether becoming a scientist, joining the green jobs economy, running for elected office, teaching or simply being able to make informed decisions, New Hampshire citizens need to be environmentally literate.
What Does a Statewide Environmental Literacy Plan Do?
- Provides an organized framework to expand environmental education for all people
- Provides an opportunity to engage people in the outdoors and the world around them
- Ensures that Environmental Education providers, state natural resource agencies, organizations and others are involved appropriately and effectively in schools and communities
- Ensures that Environmental Education activities are aligned with student graduation requirements and address state education goals
- Ensures that teacher professional development opportunities in Environmental Education are aligned with student achievement goals
- Ensures consistency and accuracy in environmental knowledge
- Serves as a necessary component of a comprehensive state Environmental Education program
- Serves as a required element for federal funding based on the pending No Child Left Inside legislation
Who is Involved in the New Hampshire Environmental Literacy Plan?
The New Hampshire Environmental Educators (NHEE) formed a working group of multiple partners* to move New Hampshire forward on this critical project. In addition there is a formal bridge to the New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition (NHCiNC) to address the role that outdoor experiences play in developing an environmentally literate citizenry.
What Does an Environmental Literacy Plan Look Like?
The plan is a document outlining the framework for reaching environmental literacy while also conforming to federal guidelines. In New Hampshire the plan will be a multi-step process with stage I focusing on K-12 education and stage II focusing on community extensions beyond K-12.
What Are the Next Steps?
1. Engage and involve all potential stakeholders in the planning process including the NH Department of Education, state natural resource agencies, non-governmental organizations and institutions, teachers and other interested individuals through a variety of venues.
2. Continue efforts of the working group to develop a plan.
3. Raise funds to support the completion of the plan.
Get Involved by Joining the Working Group or Participating in Stakeholder Opportunities.
Contact us at: www.nhee.org
No Child Left Behind legislation has been identified by the United States Department of Education as a key element in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
1. Elder, J., (2003) A Field Guide to Environmental Literacy: Making Strategic Investments in Environmental Education. United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education, 1977.
2. Athman, J., and Monroe, M. (2004). The effects of environment-based education on students’ achievement motivation. Journal of Interpretation Research, 9(1).
Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for learning 1998.
New Hampshire Department of Education http://www.ed.state.nh.us/necap.
Wheeler, G., Thumlert, C., Glaser, L.,Schoelhamer, M., & Bartosh, O. (2007).
Environmental education report: Empirical evidence, exemplary models, and recommendations on the impact of environmental education on K-12 students. Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
3. North American Alliance for Environmental Education Developing a State Environmental Literacy Plan, 2009.* Antioch University New England Appalachian Mountain Club Department of Resources and Economic Development: Division of Forest and Lands New Hampshire Department of Education New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services New Hampshire Fish and Game Department New Hampshire Sierra Club Plymouth State University Department of Environmental Science and Policy Southern New Hampshire University School of Arts and Sciences Squam Lakes Natural Science Center The Rey Center United States Forest Service