May 8, 2012

New Hampshire Environmental Literacy Plan

By Amy Yeakel, Education Program Director

As many of you may be aware, there have been numerous versions of proposed legislation related to what came to be known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). NCLB’s official name is really the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Through various processes that are part of the reauthorization of ESEA, Environmental Literacy Plans (ELP) have become a hot topic nationwide. Nearly all states are in progress or have completed an ELP. Some of our nearby New England neighbors, such as Rhode Island and Maine, have completed their plans. This nationwide action has resulted in a fabulous network as states working together across the country and regionally. Over the past several years I have had the wonderful experience of working with a statewide team to create the New Hampshire Environmental Literacy Plan. New Hampshire participants came together from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, higher education and more. The process involved statewide stakeholder gatherings, community forums, teacher surveys and much collaboration! I am delighted to report that on Wednesday, April 18, the New Hampshire Board of Education unanimously endorsed the New Hampshire Environmental Literacy Plan.

What is environmental literacy anyway? From the New Hampshire Environmental Literacy Plan: Environmental literacy requires having an understanding of the natural world and the capacity to interpret environmental systems. Environmentally literate students are aware of the interconnectedness of the global, social, cultural, economic, political and environmental structures. They are actively developing an attitude of respect and stewardship toward the natural world, and gaining the skills necessary to make informed decisions about the environment. With this knowledge and understanding, environmentally literate citizens have the ability to take appropriate actions regarding the environment based on scientific, economic, aesthetic and ethical considerations.

I am so happy that New Hampshire is working to advance environmental literacy, improving the educational experience for school students and creating informed, active citizens. Look for more information in the coming years as New Hampshire now enters the implementation phase of the plan The resolution by the Board of Education and a link to the final Environmental Literacy Plan can be found at

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