First in the Nation
In 2011, Maryland became the first state in the nation to pass an environmental literacy high school graduation requirement. This mandate says every local public school system in the state must provide a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education program infused with current curricular offerings and aligned with state environmental literacy standards.
Origin and Development
In 2008, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley issued a groundbreaking executive order establishing the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature to ensure Maryland's youth have the opportunity to connect with the natural world to become informed and responsible stewards.
The partnership was charged with developing and implementing a plan to provide youth with structured and unstructured opportunities for outdoor recreation and learning and a state environmental literacy plan. In 2009, the partnership's Report and Recommendations was released and led to implementation of many new initiatives, including a state environmental literacy plan.
Implementation and Support
MSDE and the Partnership for Children in Nature are currently conducting regional meetings with school systems across Maryland to discuss ELP development, gauge the status of each county's ELP, identify gaps, and define how programs will be progressively strengthened. MSDE is also developing a new environmental literacy website featuring a list of lead county ELP coordinators, the status of county ELPs, and comprehensive resources.
The Maryland Environmental Literacy Partnership (MELP) is a collaborative effort of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, MSDE, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, NOAA and nine leading Maryland school districts. MELP is creating robust curriculum resources and providing teacher professional offerings to meet Environmental Literacy Standard 1 (environmental issues investigation and student action), as well as content standards in science and social studies.
The School Grounds for Learning Project (SG4L) is a new initiative funded by NOAA-BWET to provide dynamic online instructional resources and professional development opportunities enabling schools to effectively design, enhance, utilize and sustain a vast array of environmental projects on school grounds in an effort to facilitate the effective hands-on implementation of environmental literacy.
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Environmental education integrated into a core curricula can improve student achievement in science, reading, math, and social studies.