Environmental education (EE) provides a foundation for building awareness and action about local and global environmental challenges and a sustainable future. While EE is a lifelong process, it often pays particular attention to children and youth. Its goal is to develop knowledge, values, skills, and actions focused on social-ecological systems and the prevention and solution of environmental problems.
North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) is a professional association designed to promote EE through teaching, research, and service. NAAEE was originally founded as a national association in 1971; it officially became tri-national in 1983 with the inclusion of members from Canada and Mexico and is the premier association in the field in North America. NAAEE has placed increasing emphasis on civic engagement and diversity, equity and inclusion. Their publication, Community Engagement: Guidelines for Excellence, which was developed in collaboration with public agencies, national associations, and other institutions, includes a broad range of pedagogically sound principles and practices for engaged EE that is community-centered, collaborative, and inclusive, and that fosters healthy, resilient, and just communities.
1970: The original Environmental Education Act of 1970 established an Office of Environmental Education (OEE) in what was then the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), home to various environmental programs before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established later that year.
April 22, 1970: On the first Earth Day, a massive teach-in took place in some 1,500 colleges and universities, as well as in 10,000 schools and a multitude of other community settings. This gave a huge boost to environmental education
1990: The 101st Congress passed the National Environmental Education Act (NEEA) in 1990 and it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
Want to Learn More?
Download the Full Glossary Entry for more information on Environmental Education: