April is Environmental Education Month
Governor Martin O’Malley has proclaimed April Environmental Education Month in Maryland in recognition of public and private efforts to help children connect with and learn about their natural world.
“Maryland continues to serve as a national model for quality public education — that’s why Education Week ranked our public schools number one in the nation for five years in a row,” said Governor O’Malley. “We were the first state in the nation to adopt environmental literacy graduation requirements, which now serve as a key component of our State’s curriculum. Every day, our educators are being given more tools to create special learning opportunities that will better enable Maryland students to become informed and responsible stewards of our natural world.”
Maryland’s environmental literacy graduation requirements infuse core subjects with lessons about conservation, the Chesapeake Bay, Smart Growth and natural resource management. With support through the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, the environmental education community works with educators in school systems statewide to integrate meaningful classroom and outdoor learning experiences throughout the curriculum.
Governor O’Malley has made environmental education a priority of his administration, most recently launching the new Explore and Restore Your SchoolShed program to encourage and enable schools to study and care for their local streams. The State’s commitment to upholding these rigorous learning standards in science and other disciplines ensures Maryland students receive vital exposure to their natural world through the classroom, building a foundation for 21st century environmental decision making, problem solving and green jobs.
Environmental lessons integrated into a standard curriculum have a proven positive impact on student achievement in subjects such as reading, math, social studies and science; and involve knowledge and application of economics, geography, writing and more. Students statewide are applying what they have learned through lesson plans and stewardship projects, such as planting trees, cleaning streams and creating rain gardens to help create a greener, healthier Maryland.
To ensure young people statewide have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, Governor O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008. Under the initiative, which is being used as a national model, the Governor created the Maryland Conservation Jobs Corps and issued the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. The Partnership continues to help school systems develop their environmental literacy programs, and guide easily-accessible outdoor learning and recreation in schools and communities statewide.
“The best and most effective way for children to learn about their natural world is to get outside and enjoy it,” said Britt Slattery, Director of DNR Conservation Education. “Outdoor activities such as exploring a forest, watching wildlife and fishing provide them with the connection they need to understand and thus care for our planet.”
A copy of the Governor’s Environmental Education Month Proclamation is located here.
Additional information on environmental education and outdoor activities is available at dnr.maryland.gov/CIN.