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The Future of Environmental Education in New England, with Craig Strang

Outdoor learning is one of the safest options for education right now, given that it easily allows for social distancing and reduces the risks of transmission of COVID-19. According to a recent study from UC Berkeley, however, around 2/3 of organizations that provide Environmental Education are uncertain about their ability to EVER reopen due to economic impacts of COVID-19.

We at COEEA organized a Zoom call on July 24th with Craig Strang to discuss the future of Environmental Education and how we can recover from the economic effects of COVID-19. Craig Strang is an author of the “Field at Risk” study, Associate Director for Learning and Teaching at the Lawrence Hall of Science (UC Berkeley), and the Principal Investigator of the BEETLES project.

Because this is such a serious issue that affects us all, we wanted to include as many people as possible in the conversation, including educators, environmentalists, parents associations, youth leaders, and other advocacy groups not only from CT but throughout New England. This way we can build strong, extensive coalitions to find collaborative solutions for this crisis, which will likely include redeployment of environmental educators to other education programs.

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us in our conversation about the future of Environmental education in New England and how Outdoor Learning can help schools during re-opening. We were very happy with how much interest the call received: almost 150 pre-registrations, 74 participants in the call, and almost 250 viewers on our live-streaming on Facebook (and counting).

Missed the event? Check out our recording here:

Here are a few resources and events that might interest you:

  • Resources to Support Outdoor Education

  • Free Virtual Open Space Conference: July 28-29, 10:00am-1:30pm PST | 1:00pm-4:30pm EST. The BEETLES and BaySci projects will host an “Open Space” conference on the devastating impact of COVID-19 on both formal and informal science and environmental education. Recognizing the intersections and synergies across these two fields.

  • Nature-Based Early Learning Conference: July 27-31. Join Natural Start Alliance for more than 50 interactive live sessions, enjoy 24 hour on-demand access to more than 40 sessions throughout the conference week, and access all of the sessions for up to one year. Professional development certificates are available for all sessions. “Pay what you can” registration, starting at US$10.

  • Climate Health Education Project: New Haven-based movement advocating for integrating climate health and change education into the classroom. They provide resources to lead lessons and activities geared towards climate change awareness, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating healthier families and communities, and improving energy independence. They are working to get the New Haven Board of Education to pass their proposal which will encourage New Haven schools to respond to the climate emergency through improved education and action.

  • Green Schoolyards America: Outdoor Spaces are Essential Assets for School District’s COVID-19 Response Across the USA

  • Inside-Outside July 2020: Outdoor Learning Opportunities for Healthy Students – A Solution for Elementary Schools During COVID-19

  • Practitioner Guide to Assessing Connection to Nature

  • COEEA’s COVID Related Resources

This event was co-hosted by COEEA, RIEEA (Rhode Island Environmental Education Association), MEES (Massachusetts Environmental Education Society), NHEE (New Hampshire Environmental Educators), and MEEA (Maine Environmental Education Association). Let’s continue to build strong, extensive coalitions between formal and non-formal educators, administrators, parents, students, youth leaders, and other environmental advocates throughout New England to find collaborative solutions for this crisis that affects us all.


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