We gathered data from K-12 schools in the eight southeastern states to enable us to get the full picture of EE happening in schools throughout the region. Building on the EE provider dataset, these offer us the most extensive picture ever collected of current EE offerings in the region and what gaps and barriers exist in both formal and nonformal settings for students of all ages and in all areas.
The Landscape of K-12 Schools, Teachers, and Administrators
in the U.S. Southeast
Published October 2020; Updated September 2023
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Environmental Education is a process that helps individuals, communities and organizations learn more about the environment, and develop skills and understanding about how to address global challenges (NAAEE, 2022). The southeast faces issues that are common across the country. Most programs operate independently of one another, and little has been done to harness the collective impact of these programs to create large-scale change in each state or throughout the region. Funding often goes toward local, disjointed initiatives rather than larger-scale, capacity-building initiatives. This makes it challenging to sustain these projects in the long term or to extend the impact beyond the local community.
The additional challenge in addressing education issues such as environmental literacy is that there is no central system to work within. The academic standards used to develop and analyze curriculum vary substantially from one state to another. And because most states are “local-control states” (meaning education is governed at the county or district level), even within a single state education can look very different from one county to another.
Aware of these challenges, the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA) conducted a landscape analysis of environmental education efforts in the southeast. This analysis was designed to take a comprehensive look at the environmental education already happening on the ground, identify gaps and barriers to access that prevent successful implementation, and provide recommendations and next steps for increasing environmental literacy efforts in the southeast. This analysis will equip the organizations conducting environmental and conservation-related work in the region with the resources they need to address gaps, allocate resources more effectively, and ultimately meet the goal of increasing environmental literacy levels and stewardship behaviors.
A Summary for Busy People
Phase 1 of our Regional Environmental Education Landscape Analysis for the Southeast, a resoundingly successful step towards advancing environmental literacy across eight southeastern states, focused on conducting a regional landscape analysis of environmental education (EE) efforts in our states to get a much-needed, comprehensive look at our field. Even more importantly, we collected and analyzed data in Phase 1 that has allowed us to identify gaps and barriers to access that prevent successful implementation of EE in the region. Identifying these gaps helped us determine next steps for increasing environmental literacy efforts in the southeast.
To continue these efforts, we gathered data from K-12 schools in the eight southeastern states to enable us to get the full picture of EE happening in schools throughout the region. The two datasets together offer us the most extensive picture ever collected of current EE offerings in the region and what gaps and barriers exist in both formal and nonformal settings for students of all ages and in all areas. Comparing the data from nonformal and formal EE providers has allowed us to further our goal of advancing EE in the region and building collective impact that has a lasting effect on the southeast.