Think back to your first time you were intrigued by and taught about the natural environment around you. This is environmental education.
Environmental education is simply education in or about the world around us. Its goals are to create awareness about the interconnections between ourselves, the natural world, and the built environment while also building skills to successfully navigate the challenges of today. Environmental education can take place in formal settings, such as schools, as well as informal settings such as parks, community centers, farms, and wild nature areas.
Environmental education holistically brings together the study of natural sciences, mathematics, social sciences, art, and literature both inside and outside the classroom. It is human-centered and its integration into every facet of life around us provides everyday opportunities to practice crucial life skills such as problem solving, empathy, critical thinking, lifelong learning, systems thinking, idea generation, and inclusivity.
Environmental Education (EE) benefits students in a number of powerful ways. First, environmental education offers an alternative to the “plugged-in lives” of today’s generation. Children who experience nature on school grounds or in neighborhood play areas are more physically active, more aware of good nutrition, more creative, and more civil to one another. EE also has been shown to improve test scores by providing students with engaging lessons about the natural world that can be applied to all subject areas and grades. Finally, EE improves student health by getting students outdoors and active, which helps address common health epidemics among today’s children such as obesity, attention deficit disorder, and depression.