The future of our planet relies on the ability of today’s children to visualize, steward and sustain an environmentally healthy world. We face a deepening awareness of climate change, limited natural resources and other significant environmental issues. The health and sustainability of global ecosystems face increasing pressure from a variety of human activities and are at risk. Gaps in environmental literacy and lack of interdisciplinary education further exacerbate this problem.
Without an understanding of how natural systems work, students, teachers and community lack the ability to realize their impact on these important ecosystems or to value the role of natural resources in our past, present and future or to ultimately act as stewards of these resources.
It is through integrated field investigations and project-based environmental education that students learn to solve the problems we face today and in the future; yet, students in Washington often do not have the opportunity to extend their learning beyond the classroom in the outdoor natural environment. Limitations of time and the long-held belief that outdoor learning requires travel inhibit study in the macro settings of any local community – rural or urban. Many educators do not have the knowledge or confidence to do rigorous scientific investigations in the outdoors.