The Kentucky Environmental Education Council is hosting community meetings around the Commonwealth, seeking input for their new five-year master plan. The Council provides teachers with environmental literature at local levels, the Green Ribbon Schools Program and an educator certification program. Elizabeth Schmitz joins Kate Lochte on Sounds Good to preview their meeting at Murray State this Thursday.
Since 1994, Kentucky has become known as a leader in the nation for environmental efforts. Much of this effort can be credited to the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, in existence since 1994. The council is a state agency whose mission is to help Kentuckians discover skills to solve current environmental problems, prevent new ones and to maintain the balance between economy and environment for the future by coordinating education efforts across the state.
Meeting at Murray State
Thursday, August 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Alexander Hall, Room 240 (Auditorium)
The goal is for the council to learn from people at the local level about what's going on in the region regarding environmental education. There will be a review of the 2009-2014 plan and a discussion on what worked and what didn't work. There will also be a brainstorming session for new ideas and goals.
Environmental Education Part of General Education
The Council would like to see environmental education as part of general education requirements, incorporated within the curriculums of math, writing, social studies and science.
"We face the impression from folks that environmental education is something extra to be added to the curriculum, when in fact it's a great way to integrate all of the essential core content areas across the curriculum."
They have seen success in schools across Kentucky, recently coming back from the Green Ribbon School Tour, to schools who have adopted the three pillars of the Green Ribbon Schools Program:
- environmental waste reduction/compliance conservation measures
- environmental/sustainability education component
- health and wellness component (physically active and eating well)
The Council found that the kids at these schools have high achievement rates in standardized tests an in 21st century learning skills like problem solving and teamwork.
Murray State University is one of five centers for environmental education in Kentucky, where students learning to become teachers are given basic environmental literacy, becoming comfortable teaching the connections between humans and their environment. Elizabeth Schmitz says that there is a new challenge now in environmental education for families at home that didn't exist two generations ago:
"I think there is still a really important role for families to take in environmental education and taking families outside. We're now facing a generation of parents who also grew up spending a lot of time indoors, so the challenge is not only to get children outside at a family level, but to get parents to take their children outside or to allow their children to play outside."