Top 10 Benefits of Environmental Education

Environmental EducationEnvironmental education (EE) connects us to the world around us, teaching us about both natural and built environments.  EE raises awareness of issues impacting the environment upon which we all depend, as well as actions we can take to improve and sustain it.

Whether we bring nature into the classroom, take students outside to learn, or find impromptu teachable moments on a nature walk with our families, EE has many benefits for youth, educators, schools, and communities.

As a long time supporter of environmental education and as an Adjunct Professor of EE at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, it is my passion to inspire future educators in this field. Over the years, I have asked each of my classes to share the reasons they teach EE, what it means to them, and how it can benefit learners of all ages. Here are our top ten benefits of EE. 

Top 10 Benefits of Environmental Education

  1. Imagination and enthusiasm are heightened

    EE is hands-on, interactive learning that sparks the imagination and unlocks creativity. When EE is integrated into the curriculum, students are more enthusiastic and engaged in learning, which raises student achievement in core academic areas.

  2. Learning transcends the classroom

    Not only does EE offer opportunities for experiential learning outside of the classroom, it enables students to make connections and apply their learning in the real world. EE helps learners see the interconnectedness of social, ecological, economic, cultural, and political issues.

  3. Critical and creative thinking skills are enhanced

    EE encourages students to research, investigate how and why things happen, and make their own decisions about complex environmental issues.  By developing and enhancing critical and creative thinking skills, EE helps foster a new generation of informed consumers, workers, as well as policy or decision makers.

  4. Tolerance and understanding are supported 

    EE encourages students to investigate varying sides of issues to understand the full picture. It promotes tolerance of different points of view and different cultures.

  5. State and national learning standards are met for multiple subjects

    By incorporating EE practices into the curriculum, teachers can integrate science, math, language arts, history, and more into one rich lesson or activity, and still satisfy numerous state and national academic standards in all subject areas. Taking a class outside or bringing nature indoors provides an excellent backdrop or context for interdisciplinary learning.

  6. Biophobia and nature deficit disorder decline

    By exposing students to nature and allowing them to learn and play outside, EE fosters sensitivity, appreciation, and respect for the environment.  It combats “nature deficit disorder” … and it’s FUN!

  7. Healthy lifestyles are encouraged

    EE gets students outside and active, and helps address some of the health issues we are seeing in children today, such as obesity, attention deficit disorders, and depression.  Good nutrition is often emphasized through EE and stress is reduced due to increased time spent in nature.

  8. Communities are strengthened

    EE promotes a sense of place and connection through community involvement. When students decide to learn more or take action to improve their environment, they reach out to community experts, donors, volunteers, and local facilities to help bring the community together to understand and address environmental issues impacting their neighborhood.

  9. Responsible action is taken to better the environment

    EE helps students understand how their decisions and actions affect the environment, builds knowledge and skills necessary to address complex environmental issues, as well as ways we can take action to keep our environment healthy and sustainable for the future.  Service-learning programs offered by PLT and other EE organizations provide students and teachers with support through grants and other resources for action projects.

  10. Students and teachers are empowered

    EE promotes active learning, citizenship, and student leadership. It empowers youth to share their voice and make a difference at their school and in their communities. EE helps teachers build their own environmental knowledge and teaching skills. I hope these “top ten” benefits will give you the confidence and commitment to incorporate EE into your curriculum!  

We’d love to hear what you think!

Please share any additional benefits below in the comments section.

Resources 

Susan Toth

Susan Toth

Susan Toth has been teaching environmental education programs for over thirty years to audiences ranging from elementary school age children to senior citizens. She is Director of Education at Florida Atlantic University’s Pine Jog Environmental Education Center and also serves as adjunct faculty for the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point teaching Environmental Education Theory and Practice.

11 comments on “Top 10 Benefits of Environmental Education

  • Hi,
    There is over a decade of research outlining the cognitive and behavioral benefits of exposure to nature. I am interested in research that looks at the effects of nature scenes inside the classroom. In healthcare it has been documented that viewing nature scenes lowers anxiety, blood pressure, and helps with pain management. Has research been conducted to explore the use and benefits of nature scenes in the classroom? I would appreciate any light or direction you can point me in.
    Thank You,
    Ernie

    Reply
  • Environmental education provides the following:
    1. It enhance the thought of peoples’ experiences
    2. It enlighten people to understand their environment
    3. It provides room for better living
    4. It serves as an engine room in creating awareness
    5. It provide aesthetic beauty

    Reply
  • I like what you mentioned about how environmental education encourages research, investigation, and wondering why certain things happen. I’ve heard that the majority of environmental issues arise from a lack of education. I’ll have to make sure my children are aware of the environment around them so that we can create a better world!

    Reply
  • Prof (Dr) Ravi Sharma Ex-founder Principal ESS ESS College of Education Dayalbagh, Agra UP India and Retd Prof and Head Botany KR College, Mathura UP India says:

    Excellent write up! Need of the hour is environmental awareness through environmental education

    Reply
  • It also helps in identifying relation between environment and health.
    It helps to adopt measures to be safe from environment induced diseases.

    Reply
  • Sudeeti Abrol says:

    1.Solve various environment challenges
    2.Plays crucial role in town planning.
    3.Provide knowledge related to envi.issues
    4.Provide various directives for environment

    Reply
  • My wife and I have been considering options to help our daughter become active and healthy. We didn’t realize what a great tool environmental education was in encouraging young people to go outside and enjoy nature. What a benefit that would be for our daughter!

    Reply
  • Hello Susan,

    Glad that your provided info is beneficial related to Environment Education. I’m also an environmentalist who has spearheaded the planting of over a half a million trees in Baltimore City. We are experiencing the Power of Green Goodness.
    Our mission is to stimulate social and environmental change through education on environmental and sustainability issues. we are providing youth and young adult entrepreneurship development program, based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology.

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Teaching students about how their decisions impact the environment seems like a really appropriate learning activity that will help them in the long run as well. Showing students exactly what it is that will happen to an area if certain things
    aren’t doing would be an enlightening experience for them and help them reduce their carbon footprint and help them increase recycling and other kinds of thrifty actions. If we start students out when they are young in doing these things then they would be much more likely to keep doing them and that could help us preserve the planet much better than we have been doing up to this point.

    Reply

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