April is National Environmental Education Month, and April 10 through 16 is National Environmental Education Week. So, what’s all the fuss about?
Spending time reconnecting with nature through environmental education programs increases students’ engagement in science, improves overall academic achievement and provides students with critical tools for the future. Developing a connection with nature also improves mental, emotional and physical health in students, especially for young children.
Unfortunately, children are becoming more and more distanced from our natural environment, even here on the East End where amazing opportunities to connect with nature abound. Nature competes with computers, television, and video games for our limited free time, often keeping children and adults indoors. Environmental education is a great way to improve our connection to nature by providing students with an understanding and awareness of our natural world. This understanding is vital in nurturing a motivation to connect with nature and our local community — now and in the future.
connects local students with the East End environment by offering very low cost programs to schools across eastern Long Island, providing professional environmental education opportunities for students from kindergaretn all the way through 12th grade. In 2010, we taught more than 1,340 students, and many of them experienced multiple Group for the East End environmental education classroom or field trip lessons throughout the school year. We also provide explorations for people of all ages, summer naturalist programs for children, and habitat restoration projects for students and a wide variety of other community groups. More information can be found on the Group's website, eastendenvironment.org.
In 2010, for the first time ever, President Barack Obama included funding for environmental education in the proposed federal education budget. This great step forward highlights the importance of environmental education. This week, many New York State educators, including Group for the East End staff, are providing the state with suggestions on how best to incorporate environmental education into our statewide curriculum.
This April, if your local school has an environmental education program, write a letter or personally thank teachers and administrators for supporting environmental education. If your school lacks an environmental education program, now is the time to start asking for one!
Jennifer Skilbred is an environmental advocate for the Group for the East End.