The Environmental Education Ecosystem

This week we spoke with Judy Braus, Executive Director of North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) who has experience strengthening community-based partner networks and building support to advance environmental education and conservation.

“The field of environmental education is not challenged with a dearth of ideas; it’s challenged by a capacity to deliver.”

Judy Braus

This week we spoke with Judy Braus, Executive Director of North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) who has experience strengthening community-based partner networks and building support to advance environmental education and conservation. Judy has been a stalwart in the environmental education field having previously worked as Senior Vice President of Education and Centers at the National Audubon Society and led education programs at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the U.S. Peace Corps, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Judy provides a glimpse into the environmental education ecosystem and the importance that community-based partner networks play by examining the work of NAAEE. Community-based partners and their networks provide a deeper understanding of local needs and can act as a catalyst for change within the communities they serve. Working with community-based partners allows educators to move beyond a focus on the individual needs of a classroom setting, to a broader look into the community and future goals of environmental education. The benefits of working with community-based partners are endless, as they provide expertise and resources that are helpful to the advancement of environmental literacy. 

Green Guardians asked Judy about the state of environmental education in the US today and her response was one of both alarm and optimism. At the core of the issues, Judy states that environmental education is not as supported as it should be, and is severely under-funded. She points to the lack of a comprehensive national plan and the decentralized nature of the US as being one of the key hindrances to progress in the field.  

Read more about the state of environmental literacy and the important role NAAEE plays here.

Relevant Links 

Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE)

The ACE Framework is a set of recommendations and tools to accelerate climate action and advance people-centered climate policies through increasing public awareness, building local capability, enhancing information sharing, encouraging innovation and beneficial behavioral norms, and promoting ongoing engagement. The objective of this framework is to guide the completion of a national strategic plan in time for delivery at the 26th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in November 2021.


Disneynature has educational materials for curriculum, lesson plans and fun activities that continue the viewing experience for families and students grades 2-6 while inspiring a desire to protect the planet through connections to nature. 


An initiative led by NAAEE through a cooperative agreement with U.S. EPA and seven partner organizations to support a nationwide effort to strengthen the field of environmental education and support professional development. 

Environmental Education in the Schools: Creating a Program that Works!

The 1993 publication by Judy Braus and David Wood from the U.S. Peace Corps on developing and implementing an environmental education program by helping practitioners identify goals and objectives for environmental education activities and curriculum and to develop formal and informal techniques to evaluate success. 

Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP)

GEEP’s mission is to create a vibrant and inclusive learning network designed to strengthen environmental education globally to create a more sustainable future for all. Its goal is a world where environmental and social responsibility drive individual, community, and institutional choices.

Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

This site includes a list of resources, including resources developed by NAAEE, designed to help educators and learners of all ages center equity in their work in the field of environmental education.

National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI)

NNOCCI is a network of individuals and organizations in informal education, the social sciences, and climate sciences. We are currently working in 184 institutions in 38 states. 

Natural Start Alliance

The Natural Start Alliance is a network of people and organizations that believe that all young children need frequent opportunities to experience, learn from, and care for nature and the environment through high-quality education. The Alliance, a project of the North American Association for Environmental Education, serves as a backbone organization to focus and amplify the collective impact of the people and organizations that share this common vision.

Professional Development of Environmental Educators: Guidelines for Excellence

The National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, initiated by NAAEE in 1994, has developed a series of guidelines that set the standards for high-quality environmental education. 

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. 

News and Events

2021 Virtual North Bay Science Discovery Day
Mar. 13, 2021 North Bay Science Discovery Day Committee

Join virtually to spark, deepen, and sustain hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with FREE events hosted by organizations, universities, museums, and research labs.

President’s Environmental Youth Award
Deadline Feb. 19, 2021 EPA

The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. Applicants from all 50 states as well as U.S. territories are eligible to compete for a regional certificate of special recognition and a national Presidential award.

Understanding Climate Change in California
Feb. 18, 2021 & Feb. 27, 2021 California Department of Water Resources Climate team

Targeted towards educators in Grades 3-12, this workshop is focused on the science of climate change allows participants to join from home and learn at their own pace and take part in a collaborative virtual experience.

On U.S. Public Lands, Can Biden Undo What Trump Has Wrought?
Jan. 20, 2021 E360

President Joe Biden has an ambitious public lands agenda, vowing to ban new oil and gas drilling on federal territory and restore protections for key areas. But because of rule changes and a conservative makeover of the courts, reversing the Trump legacy will not be easy.

New education pilot program for New Jersey students will help foster essential climate literacy
Jan. 28, 2021 The Press of Atlantic City

In the face of the growing climate crisis, Atlantic City Electric, Exelon, the Drumthwacket Foundation, and Sustainable Jersey have announced the creation of the NJ Student Climate Challenge, a new pilot program to foster the growing role students and young people are playing in addressing the climate crisis.

Fossil fuel pollution causes one in five premature deaths globally: study
Feb. 9, 2021 Reuters

Stunning new research out of Harvard and three British universities places the global death toll from fossil fuel pollution much higher than previously estimated.

Despite 14 years of formal education, it fell to me to teach myself the basics of the climate crisis
Feb. 10, 2021 The Independent

18-year-old Joe Brindle writes about why topics like the principles of sustainability need to be woven like a golden thread throughout the curriculum.

Regulatory wins for green building in three U.S. states
Feb 11, 2021 USGBC+

California, Colorado and Virginia show how state-level policy changes can drive sustainability achievements.

Joe Biden wants 100% clean energy. Will California show that it’s possible?
Feb 11, 2021 Los Angeles Times

Key takeaway: Just because California has committed to 100% clean energy doesn’t mean it will be easy, or that officials are doing everything that needs to be done to make it happen.

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