A Curriculum that Cultivates Stewards

July 24, 2016
  When it comes to the field of environmental education, the Environmental Volunteers is a leader in providing high-quality, hands-on curriculum for schools. The EV’s Educate for Depth program for elementary schools now has extensive quantitative evidence demonstrating its positive impact on student science learning. External evaluation of our recent Educate for Depth collaboration with the Mountain View Whisman School District found that student science test scores increased to a significant degree when compared with a ‘control’ school district that did not receive the program. That’s great news! Improving Science Knowledge, But… However, there is always a “but”. While the evaluation findings revealed that the EV was successfully educating for depth in science knowledge, the findings did not show that the program was having a significant impact on our students’ sense of environmental responsibility and stewardship. Given these findings, we decided to do something about it! Thanks to a generous grant from the Satterberg Foundation, we have a rare opportunity to conduct an evaluation of our school programs. This evaluation is great for the EV for many reasons – it is a unique opportunity for a small non-profit. Now, we can observe how students are responding to the curriculum, and then we can look at how we can improve that curriculum to make sure that we are inspiring a lifelong love of nature through our programs.

Educate for Action

This is a part of our Educate for Action initiative. Educate for Action involves reviewing our curriculum to meet three key measures:
  1. Increasing stewardship education within our programs
  2. Adapting curriculum to support the Next Generation Science Standards
  3. Improve connection and efficacy of our curriculum for students who are English Language Learners
In a nutshell, we want to improve the stewardship education we offer and adapt our learning programs to be the very best they can be! As part of this process, we are incorporating new teaching best practices that are proven to help students learn and retain information more effectively. Through Educate for Action, we are reviewing and reconfiguring each curricular area, with the goal of empowering students to act as action-oriented environmental stewards while continuing to build a deeper knowledge of environmental science.

Positive Impact on Stewardship

Here at the Environmental Volunteers, we are setting out to discover how an environmental education organization can positively impact environmental stewardship, given financial and time constraints that are part of the public school system. Just as the EV successfully developed a collaboration model that increases science education hours in local classrooms and positively impacts science scores, we believe we can develop a model that also impacts stewardship. As a result, we will be able to offer the environmental education sector a model that is replicable and has proven results.

Year 3: The Final Stretch

This three-year project has included planning/curriculum development, piloting of new program delivery, and evaluation and analysis of outcomes. Right now, we are in the third year of the Educate for Action project. We are incorporating results from the evaluation, putting final touches on the revised curriculum, and training our volunteers on best teaching techniques. We celebrate the staff, volunteers, and board members who have been working behind the scenes to bring the best in natural education education to local schools! Through this work, we are setting out to discover how an environmental education organization can positively impact environmental stewardship. We can’t wait to share with you what we discover.