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Horsheshoe Crabs Wow Emerging Leader

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By James Hemphill

I visited Fox Island as part of a sixth grade field trip with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  From that moment I was hooked on the Bay and estuary ecosystems of the east coast.  I met Don Baugh on a kayaking voyage to Cumberland Island.  I remember the anxious faces after we made landfall when we realized the latrine digging shovel was left at the last campsite.  Fortunately, I had my trusty foldable shovel and the trip was saved. I have led various environmental projects including oyster reef restoration, dumpster dives, and environmental advocacy.  I decided to pursue environmental science at Virginia Tech where I am a rising Junior.  I am also a midshipman in the U.S. Navy and look forward to my commission in two years.

On the recent Delaware Bay expedition, we witnessed the annual horseshoe crab spawning – a world class event.  This 450-million-year old ritual makes one feel out of place and time, realizing it was the horseshoe crabs who once owned the shoreline.

We began our journey on the Murderkill River, paddling through a vast expanse of meandering marshy creeks seemingly untouched by people.  Eventually we happened upon Bowers, Delaware, which seemed like an island of humanity surrounded by the elements. Several kayaks stopped to talk to the Captain and crew of the Maggie S. Myers, a 1893 Oyster Schooner.  This last-of-its-kind vessel is a living relic, keeping the pulse of the Delaware Bay’s coastal communities alive.  We only saw a few horseshoe crabs throughout the day, and we couldn’t foresee the scale of what was to take place that night.

With the setting of the sun and rise of the moon, the crabs marched to the beach in unfathomable abundance.  Only when one is reminded of the global travelers who have stopped here, including the migratory birds ruddy turnstone and red knot, does one understand the necessity of this abundance for the survival of species.  The seeming chaos was orchestrated all in a few hours, and by morning only the marks on the sand remained of this event. I left with an understanding of the critical necessity of this abundance for the existence of other species and the ecosystem of the Delaware Shore as a whole.

While these trips are organized to highlight nature, one gains wisdom and experience from other outdoorsmen and conservationists with broad expertise.  This is an opportunity for the old guardians of our environment to impart their experience on a younger generation, but also for the young environmentalist to share their ideas, commitment, and hope for a Bay where this event will continue for generations to come.

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Watershed Conservation Starts Upstream

By Keith Gillespie

As a lifelong admirer of the outdoors, it was a very short and quick decision to join Upstream Alliance for a three-day paddle on and off the Potomac River, in the Northern Neck of Virginia recently.

I chair the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Game and Fish Committee and am a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission, having been appointed by the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Born in Delaware, close to the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, I was raised on a farm in southern Lancaster County, Pa. Currently, I have a small farm in York County, Pa., near the Susquehanna River, and a property on Chincoteague Island, in Virginia.  The love, passion and desire to sustain the natural environment is what drives me in my role as a policy maker and a user of our precious resources.

Don and Erica Baugh conducted a most informative excursion. We started the trip on Nomini Creek, where we were treated to panoramic views of the Potomac as well as sightings of osprey, shore birds and a water snake out for an early evening swim.

We camped on the farm of Tayloe and Helen Murphy. Tayloe is a former member of Virginia’s House of Delegates, and former chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. As we gathered around a beach bonfire after dinner, he spoke to us about his love of the bay and the work we must do to restore its health.

The next morning, we headed south toward the mouth of the river, observing among many other things the oyster-shell remnants of an ancient Native American encampment. That night, we stopped at the confluence of the Potomac and Yeocomico Creek, and after a great beachside dinner of rockfish again talked about the past and the future of the bay.

Knowing that we are born with one mouth and two ears, I am more of a listener than a talker. I was touched, and motivated, by the people I heard speak around the fire that evening. Young and old, male and female, novice or experienced on the water, their love and commitment to save this jewel was palpable. The time spent with these 27 people only reinforced my resolve to do whatever I can to help reach our shared goals.

A young otter swam past us the next morning as we broke camp before paddling up the Yeocomico to the take-out. As we packed for home, I felt a mix of emotions. I was thankful for this experience, sad it was over, and grateful for the work of many to help “save the bay.”

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By Christine Goldbeck

I had looked forward to the Upstream Alliance expedition on the Potomac as three days to do what I love to do – be on the water, paddling. I got that, and so much more. I made 27 new friends, who, like me, are committed to restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

But first, a bit about who I am and what I do. I’m a blend of city and country. By day, I work in urban policy as executive director of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Urban Affairs Committee, on the Republican side. My other full-time career is as a painter and photographer, specializing in landscapes, especially waterscapes.

A former journalist, I once canoed the Mahanoy Creek in Northeast Pennsylvania. It flows into the Susquehanna River, the biggest tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. At the time, the Mahanoy was a waterway polluted by acid mine drainage, raw sewage and illegal dumping. I paddled in orange water contaminated by human waste while dodging old washing machines. The trip opened my eyes not just to the depredation of one creek, but to the larger threat to the Susquehanna and the Chesapeake. The article I wrote helped lead to the restoration of the Mahanoy, and cemented a commitment, undiminished a quarter-century later, to do whatever I could to help this watershed.

On the three-day trip with Upstream Alliance I mostly wanted to see the birdlife, smell the salt air, and hear the sound of my paddle breaking water. It had been a long winter. I hadn’t paddled since the fall, and looked forward to watching eagles fly overhead as last season’s grasses danced in the breeze along the riverbank. I got what I came for (and a workout to boot). But the big win was the people on the trip. They were folks of awesome pedigree—the U.S. Navy, NOAA, state government, research laboratories—and together they possessed all manner of historical and contemporary knowledge of the bay. It was a pleasure to be in the company of so many people working to make these waters better.

We listened to Tayloe Murphy talk about the oyster industry of his youth—he grew up on the farm where he now lives—and its demise during his lifetime. Yet, hearing him and other members of our group talk about recent improvements in the bay’s health made me feel hopeful.

Don Baugh, the leader of the trip, spoke about Upstream Alliance’s recent outing in New Orleans’s Ninth Ward, a neighborhood battered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and threatened by sea-level rise. I spoke of my work with the Washington-based Center for Community Progress and Pennsylvania’s 2012 Land Bank Act—both dedicated to repurposing vacant and blighted urban property.

It was clear that whether we lived and worked in cities or in rural places, we were all connected. Pollute the land, you pollute the water. Pollute the water, you pollute the land. We must be good stewards of our environments, both natural and manmade, for the degradation of one will lead to the degradation of the other.

Whether painting, writing legislation, or sitting with other people around a campfire on a beach, I am one of many people—and I hope many more to come—who see how vital it is to build resilient places and spaces.

On our paddling journey, we saw eagles and egrets. We awoke to spectacular sunrises and the chatter of osprey. The river was clear enough to see a Northern water snake paddling and jellyfish swimming. We, like they, are each cogs on the vast wheel that turns our world.

Exploring an Urban Waterway

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By: Mikaila Altenbern

Nature is often thought of as something that must be sought away from human civilization. Often the two are conceptualized as separate and opposing forces. The April 21 through 23, 2017, Upstream Alliance kayak trip belied that understanding.

Paddling the Delaware River and several of its tributaries, Big Timber Creek, Pennsauken Creek, and the Cooper River, the group traversed a liminal space. In this area where nature and cities meet, we realized that while the specifics may change, similar challenges are shared by waterways and cities from the Hudson to the Chesapeake. In particular, issues of access, use, preservation and restoration were raised as key concerns along the East Coast.

The Delaware is a wonderful example of the success of the environmental movement in the United States, and particularly the Earth Day Movement and the Clean Water Act. Over the course of a three-day, 31-mile kayak trip, we navigated waterways which as recently as the mid-1990s ran thick with effluent dumped from wastewater treatment plants. In the 20-plus years since Camden County, New Jersey, closed some 50 wastewater treatment plants and replaced them with a single state-of-the-art facility, the water quality has improved dramatically, making the river safe for recreation and allowing local wildlife to return and recover.

Lead by Upstream Alliance’s Genevieve Leet, the group conducted an informal survey of one such recovering population: freshwater mussels. The group identified several species of mussels by their shells. Although many native mussel species remain imperiled, their fragile resilience is a reminder that these American rivers were once the richest in the world. And despite the decimation, that past is not yet lost.

The trip was co-hosted by the Independence Seaport Museum. John Brady, the CEO of the museum, memorably arranged for the kayakers to stay both nights on the historic naval vessel USS Olympia.

Aboard the Olympia Saturday evening, Upstream Alliance hosted an Earth Day gala. The event culminated in a beer tasting lead by Gary Burlingame, the director of the Bureau of Laboratory Services at the City of Philadelphia’s water department. Aside from knowing an impressive amount about the tasting notes of beer, Burlingame used the platform to discuss the importance of water quality in the production of beer. It was a fun illustration of the important relationship that people and cities have with water! Although regional rivalry may or may not have contributed to the findings of the tasting, there was no disagreement that water quality affects beer quality.

The trip was a fitting marker of Earth Day: the simple act of being on the water, a vindication of the rehabilitation of American waterways. At the same time, the group bore witness to how much remains to be done, and how much cities can gain from embracing their natural spaces.

School Superintendents Take Learning Outside

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On March 2, 2017, 93 education leaders embarked on an investigation of climate change through a boat excursion into a bayou south of New Orleans and a tour of the city’s hurricane-ravaged Lower 9th Ward.

The one-day explorers were among the hundreds of school superintendents gathered in New Orleans for the three-day annual conference of the American Association of School Administrators. During their first day, 93 of these leaders representing 25 states and Canada, joined the Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC) for a one hour conference session and four-hour field trip that examined environmental education through the lens of the southern Louisiana ecosystem.

The collaborative encourages superintendents to include environmental education in their districts’ curricula, and helps show them how they can do so. The superintendents immersed themselves in the bayou’s ecosystem, observing alligators, eating freshly shucked oysters, holding crawfish, and casting nets into the shallow grasses. As they looked and worked, they talked about how cross-cutting themes and issues from the excursion might translate to the ecosystems of their school districts and states. Sarah Bodor from the North American Association for Environmental Education was hopeful that superintendents may travel home to their own communities to “engage students in thinking about those issues and finding creative and innovative solutions to those problems.”

While studying the interrelationships between humans and nature in coastal Louisiana, the superintendents were able to see effects of sea level rise on Bayou Segnette and the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans. Three U.S. National Park Service scientists who joined the expedition explained that management of the river and coast has prevented sediment from replenishing the low-lying land. “We are removing all the resources that the river brings,” said Julie Whitbeck, a park service ecologist. Also joining the group were Arthur Johnson and Happy Johnson from the Lower 9th Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, a local nonprofit. They interpreted the beleaguered landscape as we traveled down barren streets lined with boarded up houses, graffiti and foundations where houses once stood.  We also saw pockets of rebuilding, such as those funded by Brad Pitt, that featured sustainable design and construction on pilings.

Many states and school districts have Environmental Literacy Plans (ELPs) that help guide environmental education. The plans from California and Maryland were showcased at SEEC’s one hour conference session hosted by Superintendent Anne Campbell from San Mateo County, CA and Dr. Kevin Maxwell from Prince George’s County Public Schools, MD. While discussing Maryland’s ELP and graduation requirement, Dr. Maxwell talked about his hope for the future. “We hope that our children will graduate aware of the needs of the environment and . . . will be equipped with the knowledge that allows them to tackle these problems,” he said.

Kathy McGlauflin, director of Project Learning Tree, which provides environmental curriculum and training, was hopeful the outing had delivered a message. “It was a great day for the school superintendents to see how they can get their own schools, teachers and students out exploring the world around them,” she said. Don Baugh, president of Upstream Alliance, which organized the trip, agreed. “We have the potential to make a big impact in school systems. We have a responsibility to help the next generation,” he said.

Watch a video about SEEC and the excursion in New Orleans.

Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative hosts climate change events

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On March 2, 2017, Upstream Alliance is leading a team that will take 90 school superintendents on a boat trip through a Louisiana bayou and a bus tour through the Lower 9th Ward. The excursion will use climate change in New Orleans as a “teachable moment.”

The four-hour field trip will follow a one-hour briefing session on the opportunities for superintendents to partner with environmental education organizations to strengthen their curriculums. The events are part of the American Association of School Administrators’ annual conference and are sponsored by the Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC).

“This is a historic opportunity to facilitate an ongoing conversation between superintendents and environmental partners and to leverage ESSA funding to help environmental literacy efforts,” said Dr. Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer (CEO) of Prince George’s County Public Schools, in Maryland.

Designed to further the ongoing conversation between superintendents and partners from environmental organizations, the morning session will explore how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) can be used to expand environmental education and environmental literacy. We will encourage school administrators to create real-world learning experiences that bolster Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning, civic engagement, and prepare students for the opportunities of the 21st century workforce.

“This is innovative and unprecedented – to have funding and cooperation among superintendents across the nation,” said Don Baugh, president of Upstream Alliance.

On the boat trip and bus tour, we will discuss disappearing local ecosystems and the need for education on environmental issues. On the bayou, the superintendents will “jug-line” for catfish, set crab pots, cast nets, look for alligators, and step onto the marsh under the tutelage of local boat captains and National Park Service interpreters.  This world-class ecosystem is in peril due to climate change and is an ideal canvas on which to illustrate the need for environmental education. Several superintendents and educators will present their own experience in turning environmental challenges into employment opportunities in the 21st century.

The Collaborative is co-chaired by Dr. Kevin Maxwell, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland and Anne Campbell, superintendent of San Mateo County Schools in California. This effort is supported by Upstream Alliance, North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and Project Learning Tree.

Spring Kayak Expeditions

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I think we can all agree there is no better time for those interested in the future of our environment to get back to basics to celebrate our natural environment while collaborating on ways to keep our progress intact. Upstream Alliance is hosting three paddling trips this Spring. Join us!

April 21-23, Delaware River, Theme:  Celebrating the Clean Water Act on Earth Day Weekend

This year’s Delaware River trip will celebrate the waterways in and around Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey.  These waterways that were worshiped for over 5,000 years by the Lenni-Lenape Native Americans, and then became toxic sewage nightmares, have returned to some of their former glory thanks to the Clean Water Act.   This trip is co-hosted with the Independence Seaport Museum, where we will stay both nights on the historic Olympia. Friday, we put in near the headwaters of Big Timber Creek, whose watershed drains much of Camden County, paddling 11.5 miles to the Delaware River, and another 5 miles upriver to Olympia in the heart of “Old City” Philadelphia.  Saturday, we paddle up the Delaware River and Pennsauken Creek to its headwaters, and back to Olympia, for an 18 mile round trip.  On Sunday, we paddle up the Delaware River to the Cooper River, through the heart of Camden City for a 5.5 mile trip.  Total paddling distance is 31 miles, but with a tide assist, it will feel like 20.

May 5-7, Potomac River, Theme:  Political Leadership, Looking Back and Forward

This trip is in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Commission and hosted by Tayloe Murphy, the longtime environmental leader and political champion for the Chesapeake Bay.  We are inviting policy makers to join the expedition in hopes the experience and discussions can reinforce the political calculus needed for the Bay.  We will camp Friday on Tayloe and Helen Murphy’s farm, with expansive views on the Potomac, appropriate as we look forward to what’s needed, and on Saturday at the mouth of the Yeocomico River, another magic riverfront location.   Friday, we start in the afternoon, paddle 6 miles from Nomini Creek to the Potomac and to the Murphy’s farm.  Saturday, we paddle 15 miles to the Yeocomico River.  Sunday, we paddle 3.5 miles up the Yeocomico River to the Kinsale Museum for the Take Out.  Each night there will be bonfire discussions co-led by Tayloe Murphy and Ann Swanson, Director of the Commission.

June 9-11, Delaware Bay, Theme:  Horseshoe Crabs

This is the expected climax of the horseshoe crab migration and spawn in Delaware Bay, the East Coast’s epicenter, and the trigger to a massive shorebird migration.  This is a world class phenomenon, and if you have not witnessed it, you must.  Friday, we will paddle down the Murderkill River, a narrow marshy creek, 9.5 miles to South Bowers Beach for camping.  Day Two is paddling 13 miles along the Delaware River shoreline to Slaughter Beach. Day Three is paddling 5 miles to the mouth of the Misspillion River, and take out.  Delaware Bay is not paddle friendly when windy, so we will adjust the itinerary as needed.  We are delighted to have a backup beach cottage on Slaughter Beach, in the event mosquitoes, no see ums or flies mandate us to spend the night indoors. Expect to paddle up to 28 miles.

These are not Olympic expeditions.  We adjust the schedule and pace to the group. No prior experience is required.  We can provide kayaks and camping gear if needed. All you need is a thirst for expedition, an interest to be with like-minded educators, advocates, writers, scientists, and artists, and a willingness to consider being part of a network to work towards a healthy environment for the next generation.

Interested? Contact: Erica Baugh, Program Director, Upstream Alliance, Erica@upstreamalliance.org

Environmental Education Webinar

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Education leaders hosted a webinar on October 27, 2016 to discuss strategies to fully leverage the opportunity for advancing environmental education initiatives in school systems. During the webinar, Congressman Sarbanes noted that this 10 year effort is now coming to fruition and is an enormous opportunity for schools districts and the EE community to work in partnership, preparing the next generation for the 21st century’s challenges and opportunities related to our environment. You can watch the webinar, hosted by the newly minted Superintendent’s EE Collaborative, and presented by:

  • Kevin Maxwell, CEO, Prince George’s County Public schools, MD
  • John Sarbanes, Congressman
  • Monique Chism, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs, U.S. Department of Education
  • Anne Campbell, Superintendent, San Mateo County Public Schools, CA
  • Kathy McGlauflin, Director, Project Learning Tree
  • Sarah Bodor, Director of Policy and Affiliate Relations, North American Association for Environmental Education
  • Don Baugh, President, Upstream Alliance
Here is the short version:
  • President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, which included key provisions from the No Child Left Inside Act, providing US Department of Education funding for environmental education
  • Congress is acting on a Continuing Resolution until December 8th.  When a new budget is finalized, we will know the final funding for the two grant programs that include environmental education. 
  • US Department of Education released their guidance language on October 21, 2016 that is favorable for environmental education.
  • States will distribute 95% of the ESSA funding to school districts, based on their plans submitted to the US Department of Education.  EE advocates are encouraged to work at the state level to ensure EE is a priority in these plans.
  • School districts will be eligible for this funding by a competitive grant process or by formula funding.
  • EE partners are ready, willing and able to assist.  Partnerships are a requirement of ESSA.

Funding Guidance Spotlights EE

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Schools can receive money specifically for environmental education! On October 21, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance on Title IV Part A of the Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA). The language included environmental education as an allowable activity and put a spotlight on Project Learning Tree(PLT)’s curriculum and the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE)’s Guideline for Excellence. This is a huge win for environmental education and a major boost for the Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative. Read some excerpts from the guidance below:

U.S. Department of Education Non-Regulatory Guidance from ESSA issued October 21, 2016

ALLOWABLE ACTIVITIES

Environmental education (ESEA section 4107(a)(3)(G)). An LEA may use funds for activities in environmental education, which is generally understood as instruction that encourages students to develop knowledge, intellectual skills, attitudes, experiences, and motivation to make and act upon responsible environmental decisions. Environmental education is generally understood to be a multi-disciplinary field that integrates disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, earth science, atmospheric science, mathematics, and geography.

SPOTLIGHT: Many schools across the nation provide environmental education classes for students. Project Learning Tree® (PLT) is one example of an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. PLT provides educators with supplementary curriculum materials, professional development, and resources to integrate environmental education into lesson plans for all grades and subject areas and to use the outdoors to engage students in learning about the world around them. GreenSchools, PLT’s service-learning program, inspires students to apply STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to create greener and healthier schools by reducing energy and water use, improving their school site, recycling, and other projects that also save schools money. Program evaluations demonstrate that PLT’s Green Schools program contributes positively to important outcomes in student learning and engagement including students’ presentation, writing, planning, problem solving, technology, leadership and teamwork skills. https://www.plt.org/

Resources and Tools: Well-Rounded Educational Opportunities

Environmental Education Guidelines for Excellence: K-12 Learning (2010) (http://www.gufsee.org/grades-K- 8/excellence-in-environmental-education-guidelines-for-learning), a guide published by the North American Association for Environmental Education, offers a vision of environmental education and promotes progress toward sustaining a healthy environment and quality of life. The guidelines provide learners, parents, educators, home schoolers, administrators, policy makers, and the public a set of common, voluntary guidelines for environmental education.

Passing the Torch

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“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn”-Benjamin Franklin

Education focuses on kids. But, what about big kids? What happens after 12th grade or college? Should they stop learning? How are they suppose to educate themselves and who will be their teachers? I have found that young professionals in their jobs are very qualified and very eager. But, they need to keep educating themselves. Do they understand their field? Do they have connections with colleagues? Do they know how the game gets played?

I wanted to help.

Since I became a big kid, I have organized outdoor trips for friends and colleagues. We have grown up together. We have been the leaders of the Chesapeake Bay’s environmental movement. Together, with these strong connections, we have helped move Bay restoration as a world class restoration effort. We would have never succeeded without each other. I would have never learned so much without them.

Two years ago, I retired after 38 years of running the nation’s largest environmental education program to aggressively champion a critical need in our environmental future. As my generation readies themselves for retirement, we often talk about how to pass on the torch. As we settle into retirement, we want to help these big kids settle into their jobs. These emerging leaders are the new leaders of the environmental movement. They will dictate what happens in the next 30 years to our environment. They will have all the power. Never has there been more of a need for strong leadership. It is our job to bolster their skills to take on these insurmountable tasks.

I started Upstream Alliance in hopes to pass on the torch. We are passing on knowledge. We are passing on skills. We are passing on passion. We are connecting people to people. We are connecting people to nature. Hopefully, these brilliant big kids will accept the torch and take it further than we ever did. We need them to.

And you know what, I have already learned a very profound lesson–the mentors learn more from those they are mentoring. The opportunity to work with such brilliant, passionate individuals should give us all hope as the baton is passed.

-Don Baugh

One year ago we returned from UA’s inaugural launch, the Delmarva Circumnavigation! Watch a video created by Sandy Cannon-Brown on emerging leaders during the circumnavigation https://vimeo.com/182128703 and nominate an emerging leader by emailing erica@upstreamalliance.org with their name and contact information.

Press Release: Superintendents’ Collaborative Launched

For Immediate Release: September 27, 2016 PR Newswire

Environmental leaders launch Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative to increase academic performance, create real-world learning experiences & prepare students for 21st century workforce

Annapolis, MD – Unprecedented federal funding available through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to build school system-wide support for environmental education (EE) has spurred environmental leaders to launch a national Superintendents’ Environmental Education Collaborative. The Collaborative will be co-chaired by Dr. Kevin Maxwell, chief executive officer of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland and Anne Campbell, superintendent of San Mateo County Schools in California. This effort is supported by Upstream Alliance, North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) and Project Learning Tree.

“This is an historic opportunity to facilitate an ongoing conversation between superintendents and environmental partners and to leverage ESSA funding to help environmental literacy efforts,” said Dr. Maxwell. “The Collaborative will seek to create robust, real-world learning experiences that bolster STEM learning, civic engagement, and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century workforce.”

Congress is expected to appropriate funding in early 2017 for new EE opportunities in school districts nationwide. The Collaborative, using conference calls, meetings and webinars, will share information regarding ESSA grant opportunities, best practices for creating EE models, and successful implementation stories.

“Hands-on environmental education is a proven way to deeply engage young students and inspire the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.), who successfully worked to include a provision in last year’s K-12 education bill that expanded grant-making opportunities for environmental education. “Thanks to efforts like the Collaborative, more school systems will take advantage of this opportunity and more students will learn outdoors and become better connected to our natural world.”

“Environmental education provides important opportunities for students to become engaged in real world issues that transcend classroom walls. They can see the relevance of their classroom studies to the complex environmental issues confronting our planet and they can acquire the skills they’ll need to be creative problems solvers and powerful advocates,” said Ms. Campbell.

“This is innovative and unprecedented – to have federal funding and cooperation among superintendents across the nation,” said Don Baugh, president of Upstream Alliance and a pioneer in the environmental education movement.

“More than 30 states have completed environmental literacy plans, which establish a strong foundation to assist superintendents in leveraging partnerships and existing resources to create model programs,” said Sarah Bodor, policy director for NAAEE.

“Curriculum and teacher professional development that has been tested and proven over many years already exists. That combined with an extensive professional network that offers local resources and on-the-ground support means school districts across the country can easily connect classrooms to their local environment to provide students with a well-rounded education,” said Kathy McGlauflin, national director of Project Learning Tree.

The Collaborative will participate in the annual Superintendents’ Conference to be held next year on March 2-4 in New Orleans, La. They will host a session on environmental opportunities and an immersion expedition to investigate climate change issues by touring the beleaguered Ninth Ward and a swamp boat trip on the bayou as part of that conference.

For more information about the Collaborative, contact Erica Baugh at Erica@upstreamalliance.org.

Superintendents’ EE Collaborative Timeline for 2016-2017

  • Launch Superintendents’ EE Collaborative, Fall 2016
  • Conference call with superintendents, Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland, United States Department of Education, Fall 2016
  • AASA conference session and expedition, March 2-4, 2017
  • Provide guidance to school systems on applying for funding, Spring 2017
  • Facilitate the dialogue between superintendents to further strengthen their programs by adopting best practices, Fall 2017
  • Develop a tool kit for school systems to access ESSA funding, Fall 2017
  • Webinar with superintendents on accessing funding, Winter 2017