Creating New Hampshire’s Environmental Literacy Plan
Since the 1970s, New Hampshire has had an active group of education professionals that have focused on using the environment as a context of learning. Members of the New Hampshire Environmental Educators (NHEE) have been involved in providing professional development opportunities resources to educators. Through the years, NHEE has collaborated in several educational planning efforts, including statewide conservation and environmental education plans, as well as being actively involved in the development of the current science and social studies frameworks.
In 2008, efforts began on the NH Environmental Literacy Plan, but only became a reality after a New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA)-sponsored workshop, led by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) in the fall of 2009, that focused on developing state Environmental Literacy Plans. Each of the six New England states, including New Hampshire, embarked on the process, and consequently have been able to provide support to one another via monthly conference calls. This collaboration has been invaluable to the process, as it has allowed for sharing of ideas, methods and processes. Members of NHEE and the New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition (NHCINC) came together to create a working group. This group created a “Case for Support” document outlining the importance of Environmental Literacy and the specifics of the plan. Representatives of the working group then met with the NH Commissioner of Education to discuss a potential plan. The commissioner was supportive, and the working group representatives continued with a presentation to the NH Board of Education in June of 2010 to formally establish communication with the Department of Education. The working group then performed a “crosswalk analysis” (comparing NH Frameworks with environmental education concepts) of the current NH Science and Social Studies Frameworks (Appendix C). They engaged key stakeholders and added people to the Environmental Literacy Plan Working Group. Members of the working group (Appendix E) held five community forums and three focus groups across the state to gather ideas from teachers, environmental educators and interested citizens for what an environmentally literate citizenry would look like and how such might be attained. In addition, almost 200 public school teachers and a few dozen private, charter and non-formal educators from all over New Hampshire participated in an on-line survey to gather ideas regarding environmental education and literacy. The committee then created a timeline for the development of the ELP draft. A graduate student was hired in an internship position to coordinate writing groups, assemble the draft and further assist in the writing process.
A preliminary ELP draft was prepared and presented at the New Hampshire Environmental Educator’s conference in March 2011 to gather feedback. In April, the Advisory committee came together to review and make suggested changes and additions to the document.
A final draft was prepared by the graduate student intern and reviewed by the Environmental Literacy Plan Working Group. The draft will then be available for public comment, after which it will be presented to the Commissioner of Education and the NH Board of Education for review.