What is Environmental Education?

Children’s tree project in rural Zambia led by Andrea Koehle Jones, environmental education advocate, The ChariTree Foundation

Environmental education can change the world

These days many children are experiencing indoor childhoods. With less time and fewer opportunities to connect with nature, children and youth are suffering. This is a real loss because research shows that contact with nature makes kids feel better about themselves and less stressed.

Millions are already feeling the impact of climate change. Young people everywhere are reporting rising climate and environmental anxiety in the wake of recent climate events and climate emergencies. At the 2021 United Nations Youth Environment Assembly, youth voiced their concerns about climate anxiety. They said more environmental education programs are key to helping alleviate this form of childhood anxiety.

Children planting trees at Yukon Wildlife Preserve near Whitehorse, Yukon.
Local seedlings provided by The ChariTree Foundation.

Kids need nature and want to help but first they need an accessible environmental education.

“Let’s give kids opportunities to grow with nature and contribute positively to their ever-changing world.”

Andrea Koehle Jones, children’s environmental education advocate

Educating our future environmental leaders

Environmental education is a nature-based process that offers children and youth opportunities to explore the natural world and environmental issues. They learn hands-on activities like why and how how to plant a tree. Outdoor learning is important to help kids grow nature awareness, critical problem-solving skills so they can take effective and educated action to help the planet. Environmental education gives kids a deeper understanding of environmental issues and the ability to make empowered and responsible decisions for themselves and the planet.

Three elements of environmental education:

  • Exploration of the wonders of nature and activities that lead to climate and environmental solutions
  • Knowledge about the environment and environmental challenges
  • Skills to grow critical thinking, problem-solving and cooperation abilities so they can asses and solve environmental challenges and become environmental leaders

“Our Nature Camp kids spent the week learning all about how things grow and how to nurture their environment. They worked hard to dig holes, plant their trees, haul water and even name them! At the end of the day they had the satisfaction of knowing their hard work was going to grow into something very special that would last for many years to come.”  

Jake Paleczny, Director of Programming and Education, Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

ChariTree supports children’s school and summer camp environmental education programs that teach outdoor skills and #EnvironmentalLeadership. It’s about getting kids outside more. Let’s give kids opportunities to grow with nature and contribute positively to their ever-changing world.

Children on Vancouver Island, BC exploring nature as part of a Sierra Club BC outdoor learning program supported by The ChariTree Foundation.

Experts say kids who participate in environmental education programs develop environmental literacy, awareness of nature and outdoor life skills. Understanding that we need to make eco-friendly choices as well as consider the future of the planet makes kids and youth more likely to make valuable contributions to the ecological health of the planet and become environmental leaders.

“Our genuine hope is this pandemic becomes an opportunity to take kids and youth outside much more often, permanently…. #outdoorlearning is the safest possible place for everyone. Thanks to The ChariTree Foundation for supporting our outdoor education programs.”

Ciera DeSilva, Education Program Manager, Sierra Club BC, Lekwungen Territory

Let’s grow with nature.

To see our recent local, national and international environmental education projects, follow The ChariTree Foundation on Twitter.