Arizona Environmental Literacy Strategy

In previous communications we’ve shared that AAEE is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to develop an Environmental Literacy Plan for Arizona. The Environmental Literacy Committee has taken a few big steps toward making this happen. We’ve used feedback from our Environmental Literacy Summit that was held in March 2016 combined with research on the state of environmental education and general education in Arizona to develop some draft recommendations.

Our first recommendation is to focus on a strategy rather than a plan. Strategies are active, responsive to changing needs and adaptable; exactly what we need for Arizona. We don’t need a plan that sits on a shelf, we need a strategy that inspires and rallies.

Components of the strategy include: developing strong networks among formal, non-formal, and informal learning experiences; demonstrating relevancy to all stakeholders in Arizona; building capacity for environmental literacy through professional development, promoting strategies that prepare children for sustainable jobs; supporting the development of sustainable schools; and building a long-term support network for the strategy along with means to evaluate success.

Our next steps are to refine the strategy’s components with clear action steps and share these widely for feedback. If you’re interested in participating in these conversations consider joining the Environmental Literacy Committee.

100 Years in the Making: Wilderness & Education

This past month, the National Park Service celebrated their 100th birthday. This 100th year marks their continued effort to preserve “unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

In addition to the many programs that the National Park Service offers for preservation projects and community outreach, their education programs have also been widely acclaimed as well. With programs like Every Kid in a Park and others offered for educators such as professional development, field experiences, and distance learning, the opportunities for environmental education is vast.

The National Park Service offers some of the most effective environmental education programs and materials in the county, with many offering the ability for educators to get students into the wilderness and learn not just in a classroom, but in nature itself.

Other programs like Distance Learning provide the opportunity to interact with National Park Service Rangers and learn more about various national parks throughout the country. In addition to all of these options, the park service also offers in-class materials that can be used to strengthen curriculum and offer a variety of options for educators.

With the mission of the Arizona Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) being to improve the quality, scope, and effectiveness of environmental education in Arizona, the National Park Service is one of the most helpful and valuable assets, to not only organizations like ours, but educators throughout Arizona.

Which Arizona National Parks have you visited over the last year? How many National Parks have you visited in your lifetime?

To learn more about the National Park Service’s 100th birthday and their educational programs, visit https://www.nps.gov/teachers/index.htm. #FindYourPark