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Making the Case for Environmental Education Kansas Association for Environmental Education, 2012

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1 Making the Case for Environmental Education Kansas Association for Environmental Education, 2012

2 Childhood Memories? American children spend less than half as much time outdoors as their parents did growing up Spending 7 ½ hours per day on electronic equipment during their free time US children under 13 spend about half an hour of unstructured time outdoors each week (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010)

3 Nature Deficit Disorder Richard Louv (2005) ADHD Childhood obesity Cognitive & conceptual development  Children need more time outdoors in structured and unstructured settings

4 “Within just one generation, the definition of ‘play’ has changed dramatically among children in industrialized countries.” Ruth A. Etzel, MD PhD, 2010

5 Impact on Children’s Health Childhood obesity Diabetes Cardiovascular disease Asthma Sleep disorders Lack of Vitamin D Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Depression (McCurdy Et. Al., 2010)

6 This Might Say It All… Today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter lifespan than the previous generation.

7 How Nature Helps Physical activity improves health Exposure to natural environments improves attention Exposure to natural environments decreases stress Play in nature is a practical method to address childhood obesity and mental health Cost-effective & easily sustainable

8 Cognitive Benefits Increased Focus Improved Cognition (Wells, 2000)

9 Emotional & Social Benefits Children with attention-deficit disorder (ADD) benefit from more exposure to nature –the greener a child’s everyday environment, the more manageable their ADD symptoms. Access to green spaces for learning and play, and even having views of green settings, enhances peace, self-control, and self-discipline among inner- city youth, especially among girls. (Taylor, 2001)

10 Emotional & Social Benefits Play and learning in diverse natural environments reduces or eliminates anti-social behavior such as violence, bullying, vandalism, and littering and reduces school absenteeism. (Coffey, 2001; Malone, 2003; Moore, 2000)

11 Health & Nutrition Benefits Children who experience school grounds or play areas with diverse natural settings are more physically active, more aware of good nutrition, more creative, and more civil to one another. (Bell & Dyment, 2006)

12 Nature Helps Adults, Too! Newsweek Web, “A Moment of Zen” Feb. 12, 2009 People who have even “electronic” views of nature had a greater sense of well- being and clearer thinking. (Kahn) Time in nature helps promote better focus, attention & concentration.(Berman)

13 Spend More Time Outdoors? It’s Not That Simple What’s Your Environmental IQ?

14 NEETF/Roper Starch Surveys Only 3 out of 10 Americans can pass a quiz on basic environmental knowledge Most Americans believe they know more about the environment than they actually do Makes case for increasing opportunities for Environmental Education

15 Benefits of EE for the Environment EE Engages children in hands-on learning activities that promote critical thinking & problem solving skills, increased environmental knowledge relevant to the place they live, and development of a land ethic. Higher levels of environmental knowledge correlate significantly with a higher degree of pro-environment behavior. The more people know, the more likely they are to recycle, be energy efficient, conserve water, etc. (NEETF, 2006).

16 Where Does Environmental Education Take Place? Formal settings: - Head Start - Preschools - Child Care Centers - K-12 Public & Private Schools - Home Schools - Technical & Community Colleges - Colleges & Universities

17 Where Does Environmental Education Take Place? Non-formal Settings: – Zoos – Nature Centers – Parks – Museums – Homes – Churches – Libraries – After School Programs – Summer Programs – Natural Resource Field Days – Fairs & Festivals

18 EE Starts in Early Childhood Early childhood educators should provide opportunities for children to experience peace, joy, and fascination with nature because these emotions undergird the developing knowledge, skills, and dispositions. (Harlan & Rivkin, 2008)

19 What is Early Childhood Environmental Education? Develop a sense of wonder Appreciation for the natural world Opportunities to experience nature Development of problem-solving skills Respect for other creatures Development of interest and appreciation for the world around us (NAAEE Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence)

20 What is Early Childhood Environmental Education? Learning is more than a cognitive process Emotions play an important role Environmental education begins close to home, encouraging children to understand and form connections with their immediate surroundings (NAAEE Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence)

21 Why Early Childhood Environmental Education? Research has shown that most attitudes are formed very early in life, and this is why it is so important for environmental education to begin in early childhood. (NAAEE Early Childhood Guidelines for Excellence)

22 Early Childhood Environmental Education & National Standards Early Childhood EE Activities are designed to address all Head Start Domains (language development, literacy, mathematics, science, creative arts, social and emotional development, approaches to learning, and physical health and development). Early Childhood EE Activities are aligned with NAEYC’s goals for children and promote learning and development in the areas of social, emotional, physical, language, and cognitive development.

23 Why Environmental Education in K-12 Schools? Outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings: Usefully employ all of a child’s native intelligences, ranging from math and science smarts to interpersonal communications Are particularly effective at helping under-resourced, low-income students perform measurably better in school Quantitatively increase student motivation and enthusiasm to learn Markedly improve classroom behavior with fewer discipline referrals and related problems Help students concentrate for longer periods and help mitigate attention deficit problems (National Wildlife Federation, 2010)

24 Why Environmental Education in K-12 Schools? Outdoor education, greener school grounds and more outdoor play time in natural settings: Help students to learn across disciplines and make them better real-world problem solvers Help keep students engaged in their school work and make them less inclined to drop out of school Measurably improve classroom performance in math, science, reading and social studies. Increase scores on statewide standardized tests in basic skills, reading, science and math. Improve performance on college entrance exams. (National Wildlife Federation, 2010)

25 Why Environmental Education in K-12 Schools? Schools that adopt EE as the central focus of their academic programs frequently demonstrate the following results (Liberman & Hoody, 1998; NEETF, 2000; Archie, 2003): – Reading, science, social studies, and mathematics scores improve. – Students develop the ability to transfer their knowledge from familiar to unfamiliar contexts. – Students “learn to do science” rather than “just learn about science.” – Classroom discipline problems and truancy decline. – All students have the opportunity to learn at a higher level.

26 Environmental Education & the 21 st Century Learner Consensus building Inquiry-driven Connection to service learning Involving the community Project-based Working in teams Presenting your case, ie town hall meetings Representing viewpoints different than your own

27 EE Supports Critical Thinking, Analysis, Synthesis, & Real World Applications Emphasized in New National Standards

28 Environmental Education, Career & Technical Education, & Green Jobs EE can serve as a real world entry point for students to discover an interest in the environment EE can provide a basic understanding of how ecosystems work and how human actions affect the environment EE can introduce students to environmental issues such as energy production and use, and help them learn the skills needed to solve challenges

29 High Quality Environmental Education KACEE offers nationally developed EE Curricula such as Project WET, WILD, Learning Tree and Leopold Education Project Activity guides developed and field tested by educators AND natural resource professionals to guarantee sound teaching methods & scientific accuracy Non-biased approach to EE, teaching HOW to think, not what to think about environmental issues Workshops delivered by trained facilitators

30 Support EE in the Community Support/Enhance Non-Formal & Out of School Programs to make EE a PRIORITY as school-based EE is limited Offer EE workshops with Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project WILD, Project WILD Aquatic and the Leopold Education Project Get involved with KACEE (

31 Support EE in Schools Kansas Green Schools Program: - Sign up! Network of schools in Kansas working toward dual goals of environmental projects/stewardship and EE (500+ schools) Small Grant Opportunities School Recognition Green School Awards Partner Organizations Sponsored by KACEE and the KS Dept of Health and Environment

32 Support Statewide & National Initiatives to Re-connect Children with Nature Children and Nature Network No Child Left Inside Coalition Kansans for Children in Nature


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