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"We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive."
“The goal of environmental education is to develop a world population that is aware of, and concerned about, the environment and its associated problems, and which has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations, and commitment to work individually and collectively toward solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones.”
Why Environmental History?
Helping the next generation of adults develop a strong environmental ethic and smart decision-making skill set is a continuing challenge to K-12 educators in the United States. While environmental education has been well-instituted in science classrooms, little information for social studies classrooms existed before the If Trees Could Talk curriculum. Future decision-makers need a knowledge of and connection to the environment that surrounds them, as well as an understanding of what policies and issues have brought us to our current place in time. If Trees Could Talk fulfills this need, and helps students develop critical thinking skills on environmental issues within a social context. Incorporating environmental history into the social studies curriculum will help produce better informed and more productive future citizens.
Can environmental education promote student well-being and academic success? What research is available? What proven benefits exist about the use of environmental education? With an emphasis on standards and test scores, is there time for environmental education or should educators make time for environmental education?
This web page provides you with the tools to determine if environmental education is right for your classroom and your purposes. There are numerous studies that link higher test score results to student participation in environmental education. There are also numerous studies linking students' overall well-being to participation in outdoor play and environmental education. Environmental education has been linked to increased student retention, impulse control, and concentration. Below are opportunities to learn about additional benefits of environmental education.
This 2009 article describes the successes of a large-scale, interdisciplinary environmental health education program in improving student test scores and general performance across multiple disciplines. Improvements in Student Achievement and Science Process Skills Using Environmental Health Science Problem-Based Learning Curricula
95% of adult Americans (including 95% of parents) believe that environmental education should be taught in our K-12 schools. More information on these National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) and Roper Report survey findings at Environmental Literacy in America. September 2005.
Setting the Standard, Measuring Results, Celebrating Successes – A Report to Congress on the Status of Environmental Education in the United States. Submitted by the National Environmental Education Advisory Council; March, 2005. The report details the standards established, the results measured, and the successes achieved since the passage of the National Environmental Education Act of 1990.
National Environmental Education Week's (a project of the National Environmental Education Foundation) list of Benefits of Environmental Education
A list of several national professional education organizations that support environmental education as an important part of children's school experiences, from the Kansas Association for Environmental Education: Support for EE in Schools
August 2001 InfoBrief from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development by Michele Archie: "Moving into the Educational Mainstream"
"Place-based or environment-based education uses the environment as an integrating context (EIC™) across disciplines. It is characterized by exploration of the local community and natural surroundings, hands-on experiences of environmental discovery and problem-solving, interdisciplinary curricula, team teaching, and learning that accommodates students’ individual skills and abilities. Research shows that this approach delivers many benefits to students." Dr. Louise Chawla, 2007. Read more in her Student Gains from Place-Based Education Fact Sheet
Michael Duffin, & PEER Associates, Inc. prepared this document for the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) in 2005. The document was designed to show that Place-based Education increases students' environmental literacy, as well as provides many other benefits. Place-Based Education & Academic Achievements
2005 State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER): California Student Assessment Project: Phase Two The Effects of Environment-based Education on Student Achievement.
Conclusions and analysis of data collected from students and teachers at five Bay Schools. Prepared for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation by Clare Von Secker in February 2004:Bay School Project; Year Three Summative Evaluation
Environmental education gaining renewed respect and value in the South Carolina public school system. Edward H. Falco's 2004 "environment as an integrating context" (EIC™) research findings: Environment-Based Education: Improving Attitudes and Academics for Adolescents
A November 2004 study's findings of the use of farming as an Environmental Education tool: Farm-based environmental studies as a component of middle school curriculum: benefits and challenges of integration
The National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) commissioned the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) to prepare this report, written by Joanne Lozar Glenn in 2000: Environment-Based Education: Creating High Performance Schools and Students
Report on the results of work from 13 Florida schools that implemented the EIC Model™. The schools reported higher scores on state reading, writing, and mathematics assessment tests. Written by Kathy Shea Abrams, Florida Office of Environmental Education (1999). Summary of Project Outcomes from EE and SSS Schools' Final Report Data
A report on a study of student performance in 40 schools implementing EIC™, and in partnership with 12 State Departments of Education. Data from 40 school site visits, four different teacher surveys, and more than 400 student and 250 teacher and administrator interviews. Gerald A. Lieberman, Ph.D., Linda L. Hoody, M.A. (1998):Closing the Achievement Gap:Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning
"Access to nature contributes to the health and well-being of young people, and helps to form a foundation for the development of responsible environmental behavior. The planning and development professions can play a key role in ensuring that young people have access to nature in their everyday lives." ~ Dr. Louise Chawla. Dr. Chawila lists numerous studies that identify specific benefits children can gain from interation with nature: Benefits of Nature for Children's Health Fact Sheet
Building for Life Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection. Stephen R. Kellert, Chapter 3, Nature and Childhood Development; Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2005.
Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children Looking Beyond Fitness and Fatness to Attention, Affiliation, and Affect. Hillary L. Burdette, MD, MS; Robert C. Whitaker, MD, MPH. January 2005, American Medical Association.
An April 2008 article by Pamela Wood from the Capital Gazette in Maryland: Politicians promote outdoor learning
An April 2008 article on environmental education efforts in Tennessee: Tennessee Brings Outdoors In With Environmental Education
An April 2006 New York Times article by Gail Braccidiferro: Connecting to Nature (and Not by Google)
A 2006 "Every Student Learns Outside™" success story from Oil City Magnet School in Lousiana, through Project Learning Tree: Environmental Education Saves the Day