New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA), in partnership with the six state professional Environmental Education (EE) associations in New England, will award at least nineteen grants up to $5,000 each to eligible groups such as non-profits, EE organizations, schools, and local or state agencies.Â All proposals must be received by Friday, August 31, 2012. Details below.
Many of us know, either instinctively or through instruction, that time outside is good for kids. Books have been written; blogs launched; family nature clubs started. But what most people are just now learning is that, over the last decade, there has been a growing movement to engage our children in the great outdoors through formal and informal education.
In 2007, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland introduced legislation that strengthens and expands environmental education in America’s classrooms and reconnects children with nature. The “No Child Left Inside” Act has tremendous bipartisan support and will provide both funding and incentives to states to implement K-12 environmental education.
To be clear, the environmental education (EE) in the legislation is not biased environmental advocacy or providing information about specific environmental problems. The RI Environmental Literacy Plan describes EE as a way to “enhance the curriculum and instruction of multiple subjects by providing meaningful, authentic, and applied learning experiences inside and outside the classroom and school day.” EE requires students to use a variety of skills in a changing environment. Students are engaged in reading, writing, math, and science activities. So it’s learning in nature (and the community) rather than necessarily about nature.
“Why?” you might ask. Good question!
In many research studies, EE has been shown to increase students’ academic engagement and achievement. Specifically, EE has been linked to:
- increasing inquiry and problem solving skills;
- encouraging creative and imaginary thinking;
- strengthening collaboration, communication and positive behavior among students;
- improving performance on assessments;
- enhancing physical and mental health;
- and more.
Basically, GPA goes up, negative discipline goes down. What more can you ask for?
Rhode Island is one of the first states to complete an Environmental Literacy Plan. And now, the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA), in partnership with the six state professional Environmental Education (EE) associations in New England, will award at least nineteen grants up to $5,000 each to eligible groups such as non-profits, EE organizations, schools, and local or state agencies. Made possible by a $150,000 grant from the U.S. EPA Regional Environmental Education Sub-Grants program, the awards will support projects that increase environmental education capacity or advance education by helping implement state environmental education plans. Projects may include professional development, student projects, or statewide capacity building for delivering environmental education. All proposals must be received by Friday, August 31, 2012. To learn more, please visit the RI Environmental Education Association website.
- No Child Left Inside Coalition: http://www.cbf.org/page.aspx?pid=687
- RI Environmental Education Association: http://www.rieea.org/
- Last Child in the Woods: http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/
- PlayWatch: http://www.childrenmuseum.org/playwatch.asp
- RI Families in Nature: http://www.rifamiliesinnature.org/
Photo Credit: Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.