Key Area 6

Ensuring Environmental Literacy through Community Connections

Current Context

photo credit: NH Department of Environmental ServicesNew Hampshire’s communities play a key role in educating citizens of all ages about local environmental issues. Knowledge of the local environment is passed from generation to generation and requires proper communication to preserve the stories and understandings unique to that place. With this information, communities can work to support and preserve their local resources.

Strategies

Strong communities are those that are diverse, resilient and connected on many levels. In order to properly prepare the next generation to be responsible and knowledgeable citizens, it is crucial that they have experiences with real-world projects and connections with community members. These community members in turn will benefit from continuing involvement and education in their towns.

  • Lines of communication will be opened between the many key stakeholders in a community, including school administrators, teachers, business owners, students, NGOs, local government officials and community groups from early childhood education to senior citizen centers.  NHEE and NHCiNC can each serve as a vehicle for opening these pathways of new communication.
  • Partnerships must be made to educate citizens, coordinate environmental practices and oversee local decisions.
  • Local projects and environmental issues must be identified with a plan to involve citizens in decision making and resolution of the problems.

The Environmental Literacy Plan Working Group has defined two goals to support community connections in New Hampshire.

1. Strong Connections

Short Term Outcome

  • School projects incorporate and increase service-based learning on the environment and environmental issues.
  • Community members volunteer in schools around environmental topics.
  • Environmental literacy extended learning opportunities should be developed in communities.
  • Programs specifically for early childhood education providers should be offered.

Medium Term Outcome

  • Communities and government units support local businesses to adopt sound environmental practices and those businesses use natural resources in sustainable ways.
  • Partnerships between community members and schools continue to strengthen environmental projects that are interconnected between school and community.
  • Community partners including local government partners like park and recreation departments, businesses, profit and non-profit organizations should work together to maximize efforts.

Long Term Outcome

  • The community benefits from strong environmental connections between businesses, schools and government.

photo credit: Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

2. Local Environment

Short Term Outcome

  • Students study relevant environmental issues in their community and work to resolve those issues.

Medium Term Outcomes

  • The community’s overall health and vitality continues to be strengthened.
  • The environment is viewed as a key component to a community.

Long Term Outcome

  • Environmental, social and economic impacts on a community and the natural environment are considered.
  • Community members have developed skills to investigate issues and develop solutions with consideration for the natural environment.