By bringing together EE practitioners, evaluators, and funders to create shared outcomes, environmental educators can more effectively demonstrate the role of EE in improving quality of life in Colorado.
Environmental education has struggled to tell the story of its work and how intentional EE programs, activities, curricula, etc. enhances and improves the lives of those who participate. Because of this, the field in general has struggled to secure both financial and policy-based support for its many endeavors, leaving many organizations to piece-meal a budget together to support their work. As a result, far too many communities go without access to quality EE initiatives to help improve the lives of individuals and the life of their community.
By bringing together practitioners, evaluators, and funders, we hope to create a framework to:
Demonstrate the role of EE in improving the quality of life in Colorado
Build capacity for evaluation within EE Organizations
Provide a framework for evaluating ee across and among organizations
Align the needs of funders and EE practitioners
Over the last two years, we have hosted 5 community meetings bringing together practitioners, funders, and evaluators to develop collective outcomes and indicators to measure the success of environmental education. These outcomes are currently being piloted in the first collective EE evaluation in the state.
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years)
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Because a generation or more of children has not had a close relationship with the outdoors, state and federal natural resource agencies are having difficulty recruiting employees who have the necessary skills, experience, education, and emotional connection to the outdoors to take over the management of public lands. Simultaneously, agencies need candidates that represent the changing demographics of the state. The Careers in Natural Resources Initiative aims to work collaboratively with over 350 partners to create more pathways to enable ALL young adults to be educated, prepared, and qualified to enter and maintain professional, sustainable natural resource careers.
Engaged more than 350 partners representing more than 100 organizations through four Summits and on working committees that helped review, plan and execute project work.
Published a "How-To Guide for Pursuing a Career in Natural Resources" addressing many of the barriers youth face in navigating application and interview processes. The Guide can be viewed at: www.caee.org/NRCareers.
Increased awareness of natural resource career opportunities for more than 2,500 students by organizing participation in large-scale school district career fairs, coordinating a natural resource career fair for 67 students at an alternative high school in Denver, and hosting multiple "Work Gone Wild Weeks" for Boys and Girls Clubs and Goodwill Industries of Denver. In "Work Gone Wild Week" 27 diverse youth participated in the 6-day program and 45 staff representing 15 different federal, state, and local government organizations as well as for profit and nonprofit organizations helped provide information and experiences to the students during the week . As documented by a survey at the completion of the "Work Gone Wild Week," 78% of participants indicated that the program provided them with the information they needed to determine if they want to continue to explore natural resource careers. Based on pre and post surveys, awareness of natural resource career options increased by 19% and knowledge of the education and training needed to get a natural resource career increased by 17%. Skill level related to natural resource careers increased by 18%.
Launched a new natural resource careers online clearinghouse (www.GetOutdoorsColorado.org/Job-Center) to increase access to natural resource career opportunities.
Provided four facilitated opportunities for partner organizations to explore potential collaborations and build capacity for each of their individual programs and resources.
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
The Colorado Regional EE Leadership Councils were established to guide and facilitate implementation of Colorado's state environmental education plan, adopted in 2012. CAEE is continuing to work with the Department of Education and the Department of Natural Resources to help support strategies in the plan. The plan creates a coordinated strategy between the varied stakeholders in environmental and public education to ensure that all learners have an opportunity to learn about the environment where they live.
Four regional councils serve as guides and to implement the Colorado Environmental Education Plan.
Regional Councils are providing professional development with teachers and school districts to encourage implementation of the goals of Colorado's EE plan.
CAEE hosts workshops and webinars in different parts of the state addressing the professional development needs of environmental educators. Opportunities are offered yearly ranging from 1 hour to full-day sessions on topics as varied as volunteer management, evaluation, specific environmental issues, and guidelines for excellence in environmental education. More than 2500 people-hours of professional development are accomplished each year!
As just one example of the success of these programs, the Advancing Environmental Education Conference, evaluations have been extremely positive from past years. Over the last four years, an average of 91% agreed that the conference would help them to teach about the environment. When asked if the event was valuable, the combined past years response totaled 97% in agreement and 98% said they would recommend the conference to peers. The previous conference evaluations have been tremendously helpful for the conference committee to determine what works and what needs improvement for the upcoming conference.
CAEE also has programs that focus on quality to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn about the environment where they live through quality education experiences. These initiatives help to enhance a culture of quality through inclusiveness training that promote better understanding of inclusiveness in environmental education and a developing certification process to ensure that environmental educators meet the highest standards of professional practice.
Surveys and comment periods have shown there is support and demand for these programs in the environmental education community.