Teaching About the Earth:
Ideas for environmental educators
Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education
Debbie Carraway, Hi Hill Outdoor School, Star Route, La Canada, CA 91011, (626) 792-8634, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.aeoe.org.
The AEOE hosts conferences, publishes a newsletter, and offers other resources to support
educators who want to incorporate outdoor environmental education into their lesson plans.
Association for Experiential Education
2305 Canyon Blvd., Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80302, (303) 440-8844, email@example.com; www.aee.org.
The AEE provides teachers with information on accreditation, a job bulletin, a journal,
and networking with other educators.
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment,
Department of English, Davidson College, Davidson, NC 28306, (704) 894-2487, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.asle.umn.edu. This organization is a resource for
teachers of nature writing, ecocriticism, and other courses in writing and the
Center for Environmental Education
Antioch New England Institute, 40 Avon St., Keene, NH 03431, (603) 355-3251, email@example.com; www.schoolsgogreen.org. The Center advances K-12
environmental education through a grant program, a curricula library, outreach programs,
and a database of youth groups.
10511 Saskatchewan Dr., Edmonton, AB T6E 4S1 Canada, (780) 433-8711, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.dc.ab.ca.
Help your school, whether in the United States or Canada, do an environmental retrofit to
lower utility bills and create healthier, greener classrooms.
Institute for Earth Education
Cedar Cove, Greenville, WV 24945, (304) 832-6404, email@example.com; www.earthed.com. This international group of
environmental educators offers resources for designing and implementing successful
National Environmental Education Advancement Project
College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, WI 54481, (715)
346-4179, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.uwsp.edu/cnr/neeap/. This national
organization supports educators and administrators who are creating environmental
education programs at the state and local levels.
North American Association For Environmental Education
1825 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20009, (202) 884-8912, email@example.com; www.naaee.org.
The NAAEE promotes environmental education throughout North America (and beyond) with
conferences, publications, and training sessions.
Online projects, lesson plans, and resources
Acorn naturalists www.acorn-group.com. Acorn Naturalists provides
curricula and other resources for hands-on environmental education.
Books for Young People on Environmental Issues www.epa.state.il.us/kids/teachers/books.html.
Illinois's EPA suggests fiction and nonfiction selections for grades K through 6 and 7
through 12, plus activity resources for teachers.
Center for Ecoliteracy www.ecoliteracy.org. This Berkeley-based group
publishes Ecoliteracy: Mapping the Terrain, an introduction to ecoliteracy, and The Edible
Schoolyard, a guide to using garden projects in schools.
EEK! Environmental Education for Kids www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers enjoyable educational resources for
teachers, parents, and kids in grades 4 through 8.
EPA's Environmental Education Center www.epa.gov/teachers/. The EPA provides
curriculum resources and activities, ideas for community service projects, and information
about awards, workshops, conferences, jobs, and scholarships. Educators for grades K
through 12 can subscribe to a curricula-discussion list by e-mailing
Listserver@valley.rtpnc.epa.gov with the message "subscribe k12_environet firstname
Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment www.globe.gov. Find out how your students can perform
environmental observations and share their data online with scientists and other schools.
Green Teacher www.web.net/~greentea/. This quarterly
magazine seeks to enhance environmental and global education at all grade levels,
providing practical tips, ready-to-use activities, and resource reviews.
Kidsgardening.com www.kidsgardening.com. The National
Gardening Association offers inspirational classroom stories, articles about basic botany,
educational activities, and other resources for gardening with kids.
Sharing Environmental Education Knowledge www.seek.state.mn.us. The state of Minnesota,
which has operated an Office of Environmental Education since 1990, offers extensive
resources that could provide a model for other states.
Sierra Club Environmental Education www.sierraclub.org/education/. Check
out the Sierra Club's selection of news, articles, programs, Web sites, and other
resources for environmental education.
Sierra Club Environmental Education Activists List
Apply to join this listserv if you want to discuss public policy and help counter assaults
on environmental education. For more information, send an e-mail to LISTSERV@LISTS.SIERRACLUB.ORG with no
subject and the message INFO CE-EE-ACTIVISTS.
THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM by Julie Monahan
Sunny Friday afternoons can seem interminable, as students gaze longingly out the
windows and teachers struggle to keep their attention. But in Kirkland, Washington, the
120 middle-schoolers at the Environmental and Adventure School are already outside,
exploring the forested wetlands of neighboring Big Finn Hill Park.
This public school centers its entire curriculum around environmental and outdoor
activities. Students learn science by calculating biodiversity losses and English by
reading nature essays. They meet county park naturalists, ethnobotanists, and salmon
preservationists and learn about the roles these people play in their communities.
At the end of the school week, students fan out to one of four outdoor classrooms,
where they may sweat through riverbank restoration at a former salmon-bearing creek, plan
a schoolyard habitat for native plants and birds, or continue construction on a Salish
tribe plank house. "At my old school, field trips meant we had to stay still a
lot," says Cory Zeitlin, 12. "Here we really get to go out and explore."
What students see around this Seattle suburb are salmon-depleted streams, heavily
logged woodlands, and sprawl. At least to some students, the conclusions are obvious.
"I'm learning that the earth might be completely destroyed, but if we help now, we
might be able to preserve it," says Francine Iacono, 12, who wants to start her own
environmental organization one day.
Research by the State Education and Environment Roundtable in San Diego indicates that
students learn better when teachers relate their curriculum to the kids' cultural and
natural environments. Test scores increase, reading levels rise, and teachers report fewer
disciplinary problems. Such programs also give students an appreciation for the natural
world and a desire to help take care of it.
EVERY PLACE A HOLY PLACE
by Carol Schuck Scheiber
An increasing emphasis on the links between faith and ecology is showing up in classes,
camps, and projects aimed at teaching that loving God means loving the earth (see
"The Second Creation Story," November/December 1998). Religious education can
help develop two badly needed faculties: the ability to embrace the wonder of creation and
a sense of ethical responsibility to care for it.
"Prayer and God and religion are not all about sitting in cold and, for some of
us, sterile synagogues," says Nili Simhai, education director at Teva Learning Center
in New York City. Teva specializes in immersing urban kids in nature. "When we go out
into God's creation, it's one of the best times for us to recognize God the Creator. The
kids pick up on that right away. We don't have to spell it out for them."
Founded in 1994, Teva is one of five organizations in the United States. dedicated to
Jewish environmental education for children. It runs overnight camps at several East Coast
sites, catering to students at Jewish schools. The camps are kosher, and the programs
integrate classic outdoor education with prayers, rituals, and theology.
Many Christian schools and churches take advantage of programs exported by "earth
literacy" centers, such as the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center in Tiffin, Ohio.
Founded in 1994 by the Sisters of St. Francis, the center takes ecology into the region's
public and Catholic schools, hosts day camps and overnight camps, offers gardening
classes, and even hosts a prayerful summer solstice celebration. It is one of roughly 250
U.S. ecology centers founded by nuns.
Other churches turn to programs such as Timber-Lee Christian Center, which runs
sophisticated on-site environmental education in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, area,
fine-tuning the religious content to the denomination.
Sisters of Earth, Sister Kathy Erard, O.P., 707 E. Sienna Heights Dr., Apt. 15, Adrian, MI
49221, (517) 263-1376, kerard@TC3net.com. A network
of nuns and other religious women involved in various environmental projects, including
children's environmental education.
Environmental Justice Resource Manual, $20 (plus $3 shipping)
This manual provides teaching resources and project ideas for teens and parish youth
groups. It's available from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 415
Michigan Ave. N.E., Suite 40, Washington, DC 20017, (202) 636-3825, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.nfcym.org
JEWISH Let the Earth Teach You Torah, by Ellen Bernstein and Rabbi Daniel Fink, $23
This book is a compendium of material for teaching Jewish environmental education.
Available from Teva Learning Center, 307 Seventh Ave. #900, New York, NY 10001, (860)
Evangelical Environmental Network, 10 East Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, PA 19096, (800)
650-6600, email@example.com. EEN offers resources
on Christian environmentalism, including children's education.
National Religious Partnership For The Environment, 1047 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY
10025; (212) 316-7441, www.nrpe.org. The NRPE can help
link you with hundreds of religion/environment programs for youth.
The Spirituality Outreach Guide, The Biodiversity Project, 214 North Henry St., Suite
201, Madison, WI 53703, (608) 250-9876, firstname.lastname@example.org;
www.biodiverse.org. Offers excellent advice on
introducing environmental programs to religious groups.
Timber-Lee Christian Center, Mike Manke, Director of Science Education Center, N-8705
Scout Rd., East Troy, WI 53120, (262) 642-7345, email@example.com.
Offers wilderness adventures like whitewater rafting and backpacking for youth and