AAEE Celebrates Earth Day!

The year is 1970. Over 500,000 copies of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring have been sold in over 24 countries, civic engagement is on the rise, and awareness of the connection between environmental and human health has entered dinner table conversations in homes across America. Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin, announces a plan for a “national teach-in on the environment,” and the idea for Earth Day is born. April 22, 1970, and over 20 million Americans take to the parks, auditoriums, and town halls to join the national conversation about how to address the growing concerns. Earth Day unified voters from all parties and walks of life, legislators came together and signed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency into law, and the nation united for the health of the planet and generations to come.

Forty-eight years later, in honor of these national commitments and in pursuit of our organization’s vision, AAEE joined millions across the globe coming together to celebrate the Earth and engage in these same conversations, collaborating with communities to reconnect with and protect our natural resources. For Earth Day, the AAEE co-sponsored the Kid’s Earth Day Celebration in the heart of downtown of Prescott, Arizona. With a focus on Nelson’s original “teach-in” concepts, the kid’s area was dedicated to learning through exploration & fun.

Over 280 children from the Tri-City Area surrounding Prescott attended the event with their families, indicating well over 200 seeds planted, faces painted with local critters, natural bird feeders made, nature objects explored, healthy snacks consumed, environmental scavenger hunts completed, and so much more! AAEE also gave away free nature-based kids’ books to any young Earth Day explorers stopping by our table. 

Like all of AAEE’s work, this event was made possible by collaboration with formal and non-formal environmental education organizations of Arizona and the efforts of dedicated volunteers. This year, we united with four other programs: Educational Expeditions, the Center for Nature and Place-based Early Childhood Education, Yavapai Cooperative Extension SNAP-Ed, and the Prescott Community Gardens, to collaboratively create an interdisciplinary and exciting space for kids. Environmental Education students from Prescott College designed and prepared many of the activities as well. Big thanks to those 15 student-volunteers that showed up armed with green bandanas, 60 paint brushes and gallons of paint, 1 guitar, 2 pirate costumes, 200 pine cones, pounds of peanut butter, a wild assortment of nature objects, and a whole lot of enthusiasm, collaboratively creating a day filled with enough Earth celebration to inspire us all year long. Nelson’s dream for a “national teach-in” with communities coming together united by environmental education lives on. 

Arizona Association for Environmental Education Supports #RedForEd

The Arizona Association for Environmental Education stands with #RedforEd.

We stand with the Arizona teachers who are struggling with inadequate wages, inadequate funding for supplies, and inadequate buildings to teach in. We stand with the children whose educational experiences are diminished due to this lack of funding, despite the inspiring compassion and generosity their teachers bring to the classroom each day. As an organization dedicated to the field of formal and non-formal environmental education, which promotes best practices in all we do, we know that providing children with the quality of education they deserve, indoors and out is inhibited by limited monetary and legislative support.

Currently, the state of Arizona is ranked among the bottom of the states for public school funding and equitable distribution of that funding. We have teacher shortages, students without school supplies, cut field trips, outdated textbooks with inaccurate information being utilized, underpaid or absent support staff positions, and so much more. These issues affect not only those in public education but the communities as well. The United Nations defines Sustainable Development as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Currently, we have funding issues that not only do not meet the needs of present students, but make it more difficult for our teachers to give future generations of Arizonans the knowledge, efficacy, and agency to meet their own needs. This situation is not sustainable, and the Arizona Association for Environmental Education stands with #RedforEd to advocate for change.

Right now, as environmental educators, we’re turning our green color   #RedforEd in solidarity with all Arizona educators, their students, their students’ families, and all the communities out there. AAEE envisions a future where education, environmental education, and those involved receive the resources they need to succeed!

#GreenforRed #RedforEd