The US National Environmental Education Act was passed in 1990 and established the Office of Environmental Education in EPA. Programs implemented by OEE include a national grant program, a national educator training and professional development program, two award programs, an environmental education foundation and an advisory council.
The United States is working to substantiate the field of environmental education through national efforts such as the Guidelines for Excellence, which provide recommendations for developing quality EE materials, and national programs that provide hands-on EE to thousands of students every year and help educators integrate EE and sustainable principles into their curricula. The United States is also launching initiatives to demonstrate the value and impact of EE through peer-reviewed research and success stories, producing national reports on the status of EE throughout the country, and developing guidelines for educators working in partnerships with communities to advance environmental protection and community wellbeing.
Policy & Practice
National EE Legislation
The National Environment Education Act (NEEA) was passed by Congress in 1990 and created the Office of Environmental Education in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Programs implemented by OEE include a national grant program, a national educator training and professional development program, two award programs, an environmental education foundation and an advisory council.
EE in K-12 Education
The U.S. does not have a national K-12 curriculum. State governments determine K-12 curriculum standards. Within states, local school boards set curricula, budgets, and policies. Many U.S. states have developed Environmental Literacy Plans, and some include state standards for EE in the K-12 education system.
Professional Development and Certification
Environmental educators participate in professional development through webinars, workshops and trainings, online courses, higher education programs, and conferences. EE certification is governed at the state level, and is offered in some U.S. states. Certification programs follow NAAEE’s Guidelines for the Preparation and Professional Development of Environmental Educators.
The North American Association for Environmental Education promotes collaboration amongst environmental educators, including through its online professional network, eePRO.
EE in the National Government
The Office of Environmental Education in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides information about environmental education initiatives, educator training and professional development, environmental education funding opportunities and access to online resources and publications
National EE Campaigns and Funding
The National EE Foundation (NEEF) is an independent, national-level nonprofit organization complementary to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NEEF can receive private funds to match public funds for environmental education efforts at the EPA.
Outdoor preschools—schools where children spend the majority of the school day learning outdoors with a nature-focused curriculum—are growing rapidly in the United States.
Rocking the Boat is a non-profit organization that provides positive youth development programs for 14–18-year-old students in the South Bronx,
This case study describes how one community-based organization is engaging high school students in ongoing study and action learning toward the goal of improving air quality.
The Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) Program of Point Blue Conservation Science is a collaborative network of K–12 students and teachers leading their communities to restore their local ecosystems.