Environmental Literacy in 2020-21

Over the past year, educators have been forced to discover new ways of connecting with their students. For environmental literacy educators, this has been particularly difficult as most lesson plans were intended for in-person learning.

“It’s about being innovative and creative, and figuring out how can we still engage students even though we can’t be face to face.” 

Dean Reese

Over the past year, educators have been forced to discover new ways of connecting with their students. For environmental literacy educators, this has been particularly difficult as most lesson plans were intended for in-person learning.

This week we spoke with Dean Reese, the Science Coordinator of Outdoor Education and Environmental Literacy for San Joaquin County Office of Education. Dean has been working tirelessly to ensure that teachers in San Joaquin County and beyond have the resources and capacity to continue delivering high-quality instruction and learning experiences in environmental literacy despite the challenges COVID-19 and distance learning have presented.

In our interview, Dean talks about the resources he’s employed as well as how he’s built and managed support networks for teachers, students, and community-based partners.

Learn more here:

Relevant Links 

SJCOE STEM Programs 

The SJCOE STEM Program Mission is to provide innovative programs that empower students, educators, and regional communities to engage in learning experiences integrating science, technology, engineering, and math. 

SJCOE Environmental Literacy Networks 

The environmental literacy team is building networks to connect and support environmental education between community-based partners, educators, students, and school districts and sites. We will meet throughout the year to address challenges, support each other’s work, build capacity, foster collaboration, and further integrate our districts and schools into the real work to address local and global environmental challenges. 

SJCOE Outdoor Education | Science Camp, Jones Gulch 

San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE), Science Camp, Jones Gulch, informally known as “Science Camp”, is a week-long residential outdoor education program reaching approximately 4500 fifth and sixth graders and 600 high school cabin leaders each year since 1957. On the California coast, students spend five days and four nights exploring the natural world and learning about the spectacular redwood forest and coastal ecosystems. 

Ten Strands 

Ten Strands is the leading field catalyst and “backbone organization” in the state of California and the founder of CAELI. It partners with the state government, local education agencies, providers of environmental education, community members, and funders to make environmental literacy a reality for all California’s K–12 students. 


Google’s interactive whiteboard system offers a collaborative experience for teams and classrooms. 


Flipgrid is a free and accessible video discussion experience for PreK to Ph.D. educators, learners, and families. 


HyperDocs.co is an online teacher academy and a resource-sharing hub. HyperDocs are digital lesson plans that are designed by teachers and given to students. They provide access for students to all the content and learning in one organized digital space. 

Google Classroom 

Classroom is a free service for schools, non-profits, and anyone with a personal Google account. Classroom makes it easy for learners and instructors to connect—inside and outside of schools. Classroom saves time and paper and makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organized. 

Current News and Events

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The Climate Action Academy (CAA) is a virtual training program on climate change, action-oriented learning, and green solutions for K-12 and informal educators.

Teaching to Outcomes
Mar. 16, 2021 Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education
Maintain the wonder for students while articulating your teaching goals. Creating outcome-based lessons is a key to success as an EE practitioner and leader. Through discussion and activities, explore ways to increase your effectiveness, student engagement, and reach your goals.

Green Schools Conference (GSC)
Jun. 28-29, 2021 Center for Green Schools
This year the Green Schools Conference will convene virtually over two half-days of programming, featuring inspiring keynotes, interactive education sessions, and engaging peer group networking opportunities.

Brazil Has Weakened Dozens of Environmental Laws During the Pandemic
Feb. 24, 2021 E360
Since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, Brazil has approved 57 pieces of legislation that weaken environmental laws…

The origins of environmental justice—and why it’s finally getting the attention it deserves
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Decades of research show that Black and brown communities are on the front lines of environmental harm. Can those longstanding injustices be remedied?

Climate change is the top concern for UK students, outranking inequality, healthcare and the economy
Feb. 26, 2021 inews
Global poll finds climate change outranks housing, healthcare, and the economy as the biggest issue for UK undergraduates.

Existing emissions pledges barely scratch climate targets, U.N. tally finds
Feb. 26, 2021 Reuters
Pledges made so far under the 2015 Paris accord would deliver less than a 1% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 — a fraction of the 45% cut needed to avert catastrophic climate change…

On World Wildlife Day, a host of conservation success stories
Mar. 03, 2021 World Economic Forum
Amongst all the dire and depressing news surrounding climate change and biodiversity loss, here are some success stories that could point the way to further positive outcomes in the future.

A newly released report by UNDP confirms that education is key to addressing climate change
Mar. 05, 2021 Mirage
The largest-ever opinion survey on climate change was carried out by UN CC: Learn partner UNDP in 2020 and showed that 64% of 1.2 million respondents think that climate change is a global emergency…

How ‘Cutting Green Tape’ can make California more resilient
Mar. 08, 2021 CalMatters
Streamlined regulatory processes for ecosystem restoration in California will be critical to growing green jobs and meeting environmental goals.

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