April is associated with Earth Day celebrations, so it makes sense to incorporate a National Environmental Education Week in the month of April too. This year the week will be April 13-19 and is the nation’s largest celebration of environmental education. The week is designed to inspire environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. Every year the theme for the week changes; this year’s theme is Greening STEM: Engineering a Sustainable World.
For those of you that are teachers, you live, breathe and sleep STEM, but for others it’s just another acronym. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and is currently a large focus of teacher-efforts. With the incredible amount of work teachers are already doing, it can seem like a challenging and daunting task to incorporate STEM concepts into environmental education.
The idea of sustainability is usually associated with the three pillars of society, environment and economy. By incorporating sustainability into this year’s theme, teachers and students will explore the application of STEM in thinking critically about creating sustainable solutions for a healthier planet and healthier people.
Environmental education is scientifically proven to have many benefits for youth, educators, schools and communities. Studies have shown imagination and enthusiasm are heightened; critical and creative thinking skills are enhanced; tolerance and understanding are supported; state and national learning standards are met for multiple subjects; “nature deficit disorder” is addressed; healthy lifestyles are encouraged; communities are strengthened; responsible action is taken to better the environment; students and teachers are empowered, and more!
What can you do to help?
- Encourage your child’s teacher to incorporate environmental education in the classroom
- Bring your child to outside environmental education events, classes, programs, etc.
- Support national environmental education curriculum training programs
- Attend an environmental education curriculum training to serve as a resource for teachers and students
Upcoming/Ongoing Local UF/IFAS Extension Opportunities
There are a multitude of opportunities for you to get involved with environmental education. Consider taking some time today and searching around for a state or local environmental organization you can help support. Thank for celebrating this year’s National Environmental Education Week!
League of Environmental Educators in Florida – http://leef-florida.org/core/news/list.aspx
Project Learning Tree – https://www.plt.org/blog-top-10-benefits-of-environmental-education