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Mid-Atlantic Environmental Literacy Strategy

NOAA—the agency charged with managing the nation’s coasts—works hard to ensure the best science is readily available and used by citizens and resource managers to make today’s decisions that affect the environment. But NOAA also has an eye to the future—including making sure that today’s students become tomorrow’s informed decision makers.

At the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, developing environmental literacy in our younger citizens includes supporting programs that educate students and train teachers through the B-WET grant program, delivering the latest science to educators for them to use through Environmental Science Training Center programs, and leading regional policy discussions through the Chesapeake Bay Program Education Workgroup.

Results of this policy work were recently documented in the Mid-Atlantic Elementary and Secondary Environmental Literacy Strategy, which was created in response to President Obama’s Executive Order on Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration. The Strategy, developed by education experts, is the first effort to outline a comprehensive set of shared commitments for federal/state collaboration in support of environmental education goals for students from pre-Kindergarten through high school.

“This strategy is significant—we now have a broad range of federal agencies all committing to support the states as they develop comprehensive environmental literacy programs,” said Shannon Sprague, chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Education Workgroup and Environmental Literacy Manager at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Chesapeake Bay Office. “It better connects teachers and students with federal resources that help them teach and learn about the environment.”

The Environmental Literacy Strategy sets high-level, environmental education goals to help today’s students become tomorrow’s leaders and environmental stewards. The four goals are for:

  • Every student to graduate with knowledge and skills they need to make critical environmental decisions.
  • Environmental educators—including traditional classroom teachers as well as educators who work in locations like museums, aquariums, outdoor schools—to receive the professional development they need.
  • Every school to maintain its buildings, grounds, and operations in a way that supports healthy students, teachers and staff, as well as a healthy environment.
  • The region’s education community—including national, regional, and state programs— to work together so all information and opportunities are used to maximum potential.

Each of these goals is supported by detailed approaches and methods to achieve the specific outcomes.

Developed by the Education Workgroup of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the strategy is endorsed by representatives from federal agencies; state departments of education, environment, and natural resources; and additional local, academic, and nonprofit organizations.


Mid-Atlantic Environmental Literacy Strategy