Green Quiz – Why Environmental Education?


As the nation’s students head back to school this fall, it’s a good time to take a look at the benefits of making environmental education part of the curricula.

There are so many reasons why educating the next generation about the natural world is good for society. A great environmental education promotes interest in and engagement with the natural world and encourages the next generation of conservationists who will protect our precious natural resources. After all, well-informed young people and adults are the key to finding future solutions to the complex issues currently threatening the health of our air, land, water, wildlife, and economy. Part of being “environmentally literate” also means getting kids outdoors, a proven way to help combat both physical and psychological health concerns like childhood obesity, asthma, depression and ADHD.

But did you know that an environmental education can also benefit students academically? In this month’s back to school green quiz, we tested your knowledge of the many benefits of getting green in the indoor and outdoor classroom.

Last month, we asked you:

Environmental education has been shown to improve student performance in which of the following disciplines:

A. Science
B. Reading
C. Social Studies
D. Math
E. All of the above.

The correct answer is E. All of the above. Congratulations to our Green Quiz winners: Trista Anderson, Brenda Conner, and Desty Shoemaker!

Environmental education is a clear win for students, educators, our future work force, our economy… the list is endless! Numerous studies have shown that students at schools using some kind of environment-based curriculum do better academically than their peers at traditional schools, or show improvement after the introduction of environment-based education. According to a 2005 study for the California Department of Education, sixth-graders’ scores on a science knowledge test improved by 27% after participating in just a week-long outdoor education program! And, scores remained higher 6-10 weeks after the program, according to the report from the American Institutes for Reearch: read it here.

Happily there are some great programs out there to encourage a robust environmental education curriculum in our nation’s schools. EarthShare member National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) has great opportunities for everyone to get involved in supporting green classrooms, environmental literacy, and a healthy planet:

    • Nothing beats a day outside for a starter course in environmental education. National Public Lands Day, hosted by NEEF, is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance our public lands. This year’s event is just a few weeks away on September 24th! Last year, 170,000 volunteers participated to build trails and bridges, remove trash and invasive plants, plant trees and restore our water resources. Check out for educational materials and site registration information.


    • Know a high school student? Of course you do! Introduce them to Planet Connect, part of NEEF’s Classroom Earth initiative. High school students played a big role in designing the program, so you can imagine it’s much cooler than the textbooks and pamphlets they’re usually bombarded with. The Planet Connect website keeps regular listings and info about environmental careers and internships – plus students can network and seek advice by joining the online Planet Connect community.


    • One of NEEF’s core programs is National Environmental Education Week. The event is held each year during Earth Month (April), and is designed to inspire environmental learning and stewardship among elementary and high school students. Here’s a look at EE Week 2011. Know a school that doesn’t participate yet? Send them here to register! You’ll be doing a world of good.


For more about the many benefits of environmental education, check out NEEF’s Fact Sheet on Children’s Health and Nature and their roundup of real-world success stories from EE programs across the country.