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Environmental Literacy in Schools – the California Regional Environmental Education Community

 

Environmental Literacy California

Many children today grow up hearing terms like “green” and “sustainability” without understanding the relevancy to their lives and future. Educational programs promoting environmental literacy in school children are incredibly important for the future of our planet – our children need a keen understanding of the importance of environmental responsibility in order to lead the future of the sustainability movement.

Environmental Literacy California

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to interview Amity Sandage, South Bay Coordinator of the California Regional Environmental Eduction Community – better known as CREEC. CREEC is a project funded by the California State Department of Education which provides Kindergarten through 12th grade educators with “access to 'high quality' environmental education resources to enhance the environmental literacy of California students.” The program leads the state in providing teachers with innovative resources for promoting environmentalism and sustainability in the classroom.

CREEC provides a LARGE directory of resources for teachers to search. Resources include curriculum and lesson plans, access to materials, field trip ideas, connection to classroom visitors, professional development opportunities and much more. Educators, parents, non-profits and anyone else interested can sign up for newsletters which provides information at the state and local level.

The curriculum promoted by CREEC was created by California's Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI). It is groundbreaking in that it "teaches existing California State Science and History-Social Science Standards using an environmental lens or focus."  By incorporating environmental education into general ed curriculum, the topics become much more relevant. In pilots of the curriculum teachers reported that students were much more engaged in the activities than in most other units. Students learned developmentally appropriate critical thinking skills which enabled them to come to their own answers about environmental science questions such as “why is it important” and “what does this mean for my everyday life?” Educators can download 85 free in-depth unit lesson plans at the EEI website.

“All children should have access to quality environmental education,” stated Ms. Sandage. Today's kindergarteners are tomorrow’s activists, business people, construction workers, consumers, etc. The CREEC model incorporates well-researched curriculum and a social network in order to promote environmentalism in todays' children.