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Environmental Education: Building Long-Term Capacities

What Is Environmental Education?

Environmental education teaches children and adults how to learn about and investigate their environment, and to make intelligent, informed decisions about how they can take care of it. Environmental education is taught in traditional classrooms, in communities, and in settings like nature centers, museums, parks and zoos. Learning about the environment involves many subjects – earth science, biology, chemistry, social studies, even math and language arts – because understanding how the environment works, and keeping it healthy, involves knowledge and skills from many disciplines.

Superfund Redevelopment:
Innovation in Action
Site Photo

In September 2012, more than 110 community volunteers helped plant educational wildlife gardens at the Chemical Commodities, Inc. Superfund site in Kansas, planting more than 1,600 native plants.

Cleanup and restoration provides a window into environmental science, ecology and how natural systems work.

Many innovative Superfund reuses recognize and incorporate these stories as educational opportunities. Education areas, signage, boardwalks and trails, and interactive teaching materials turn sites into classrooms for local children and other community members. Renovating old buildings and preserving reminders of the past – equipment, tools, materials – brings the history of sites alive. Planting gardens provides education opportunities and increases community access to healthy, nutritious food.

These areas can also attract broader regional and national interest, supporting tourism and economic development, and link with surrounding recreation areas and neighborhoods, sustaining healthy communities. Through 2012, environmental education areas are located at more than 30 Superfund sites nationwide.

Additional Resources

  • EPA Office of Environmental Education: EPA provides environmental education grants as well as resources for educators and students.
  • Superfund Classroom Materials: Resources to help teachers and students (grades 2-12) learn about the Superfund program. The website includes several activities, environmental cleanup videos, and a participatory program in which classrooms collect weather data for EPA.
  • Superfund Community Involvement Program: EPA provides assistance to communities through a variety of technical assistance and training resources. These resources help communities participate in Superfund decisions at sites in their community.
  • Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP): Exit EPA Disclaimer This partnership was a five-year long program that assisted nearly 2.4 million education professionals. Its website continues to provide a range of environmental education materials and information resources.
  • Council for Environmental Education: Exit EPA Disclaimer This nonprofit organization is a nationally recognized leader in environmental education, providing programs and services that promote responsible stewardship of natural resources.

Environmental Education Reuse Examples

Some examples of sites with environmental education reuses are listed below.