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A Short History of the Indiana Environmental Literacy Guidelines/Plan

By Warren Gartner and Ann Niednagel

1985 – The Environmental Education Association of Indiana (EEAI) and Indiana Conservation Education (ICE) Working Group were the big groups in state EE.  ICE held annual Conservation Camps. 

1990 – 2000 – EEAI continued to offer training, resources and networking in EE but not active in EE policy.

ICE fades away after Conservation Camp ends and an EE plan is completed. The EE plan has no political backing and no teeth, however EE workers still implemented much of the plan, including a centralized EE resource center – the DNR Natural Resources Education Center(NREC) at Fort Harrison State Park. Occasional EE Roundtables were held, organized by the NREC staff.

2006 –After attendance at the NAAEE conference and learning about  Richard Louv's work and the Children and Nature Network and  by Francis Kuo who shared her research on the impact of green space on people it was decided to share this new research and information .  Planning begins on an EE Symposium to include all interested hoosiers.

June 26 & 27 2008 – EE Symposium takes place at the Indiana State Museum. There were  presentations by Richard Louv as a “virtual” keynote, Kathy McGlauflin  of Project Learning Tree, Government, and Community  Organizations. On the second day participants discussed in facilitated meetings, how what they heard on day 1 can be used to better EE in IN. Recommendations from each area were gathered.  One of the top recommendations was to update the state EE plan. By October EE planning group has become the Indiana Environmental Education Council.

2009-10 NAAEE shares information about legislation tying some funding to states with an ELP Environmental Literacy Plan.  An Environmental Literacy Plan becomes the top priority of the IEEC.  Stakeholders from across the state are gathered to join the IEEC.  The IEEC is composed of representatives from Department of Education, classroom teachers, naturalists, universities, and parents among many others.  Environmental Literacy Plans from other states are reviewed.   Guidelines from North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) are followed.  It is decided to use a framework similar to Wisconsin’s state plan because of it clarity and simplicity.  Because of its structure it seemed the effectiveness and ability to implement the Wisconsin plan was most favorable.

2011 –NAAEE sends representative to IN to offer a training on the NAAEE EE Guidelines. The ELP becomes a project of EEAI. Four Content areas are identified and the Literacy Guidelines are developed for children k-12, identifying benchmarks at 4th grade, 8th grade, and 12th grade.

2012 – The Environmental Literacy Guidelines nearly final.   A meeting is held with a representative of the WI EE Association to get guidance on how their ELP is working and any suggestions for ours.

2013 – Work continues on ELP. There is a change in the ELP’s Committee Chairmen.

2014 – The ELP is posted on the EEAI website and presented at the HASTI conference.  A meeting is held in Jan. at the State House to get recommendations from the IN Dept. of Ed.

2016 – ELP is identified as incomplete and not a full state plan so it is now referred to as the Environmental Literacy Guideline.  Work begins of making these guidelines a state plan.  Stakeholders from across the state are gathered to work on the environmental literacy plan. 

© Environmental Education Association of Indiana

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