When we teach our youth about nature and the environment they connect with it and, ultimately, develop necessary skills and expertise to create a healthier, more sustainable environment for everyone. Gordon Lambert, with the Collaboration For Sustainability Inc., shares “Without environmental and energy literacy, you can’t have meaningful dialogue about most Albertan issues.”
Right now, we have a great opportunity in Alberta. Almost one quarter of our population is under 19 years old. These youth are poised and ready to learn. We must equip them to be our environmental leaders, to deal with the complex environmental problems they’ll inherit.
While ACEE has made significant advances in expanding environmental education in Alberta, we are not there yet. As it stands now, education will not create future leaders who can think through complex environmental issues and articulate solutions to those issues. We need to continue working to move environmental education from the margins into the education mainstream.
“Most students in our schools look like a deer in the headlights when you ask them to think through complex environmental issues, or articulate solutions to those issues.” Aaron Dublenko, Teacher, Edmonton Public School Board
“When it comes to climate change, students in Alberta aren’t given the tools they need to combat this global challenge our generation faces. The school system isn’t providing those skills.” Patrick Duke, Alberta public school education graduate, 2012.
Environmental education has many definitions.
Below we present two, created by environmental education stakeholders in Alberta, that guide us in our work:
"Environmental Education helps children and adults develop knowledge, values, skill and behaviours that help them meet present-day needs without compromising the well-being of future generations." From 'Environmental Education: Creating a Sustainable Future for Albertans
"Environmental education is a learning process that: Increases peoples’ knowledge and awareness about the environment and associated challenges; Develops the necessary skills and expertise to address these challenges, including critical thinking skills; and Fosters attitudes, motivation, and commitment to make informed decisions and take responsible action." From 'Framework to Advance Environmental Education in Alberta
The Value of Environmental Education
Environmental education connects people and nature, prepares students for the future, empowers environmental stewards of all ages, builds community, and changes lives. This short video, produced by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) captures some fantastic insights about the value of environmental education.