Environmental Education (EE) is the study of the interaction between the human and natural systems of the world. EE increases knowledge and appreciation for the environment through hands-on exposure to the natural world, as well as fusing interdisciplinary knowledge of the natural world with core subject areas. This education and awareness strengthens the relationship between individuals and their surrounding environment to generate greater public awareness, concern and action towards environmental issues. Ultimately, EE programs seek to develop environmental literacy among all citizens by raising awareness of the environment and environmental challenges, connecting people to the natural world that surrounds them, and promoting a more sustainable society.
While there have been tremendous efforts to further engage the public on environmental issues, major gaps remain in environmental literacy. A number of factors continue to contribute to this reality, such as insufficient attention and funding for environmental education initiatives, a narrowing of the curriculum by the No Child Left Behind Act and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle that is largely disconnected from the natural world. More Americans than ever before are less informed about the planet that sustains them, even at a time when environmental literacy is more important than ever. Numerous studies have shown that environmental education can significantly improve economic and educational performance in a variety of settings, including business, government and school communities.
Earth Day Network’s Education program believes that the nation’s future relies on a well-educated public so that we can be wise stewards of the environment that sustains us, our families, our communities and future generations. In fact, the original Earth Day was billed as “the first national teach-in on the environment.” Over 20 million Americans, 10,000 K-12 schools and 2,000 colleges participated in the first Earth Day. Our Education program carries this original message and success into the 21st century. With every Earth Day Network Education project, lesson plan or event, we seek to create a learning experience for all participants that will eventually lead to meaningful action.