Saturday, January 30, 2021

PA Environmental Educators Issue Call To Restore Environment, Ecology & Agriculture Education Standards; Town Hall Set For Feb. 3

On January 29, the
PA Association of Environmental Education issued a call to educators across Pennsylvania to help restore the Environment, Ecology and Agriculture Education Standards so they apply across K-12 education.

Last September, the Department of Education released new proposed academic standards for science that do not explicitly include Environment, Ecology and Agriculture standards.

The existing Environment and Ecology standards were separate and distinct and applied to all educational disciplines.

The Association said, “These three topics [Environment, Ecology and Agriculture] are critical to ensure that Pennsylvania students are informed citizens and are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century economy.

“In these times of global climate crisis and national uncertainty regarding the environment, it is urgent that we as educators of current and future generations of national and global citizens take action to ensure that our students young and old, in formal and non-formal settings, are prepared for what lies ahead.”

DCNR’s Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council met last September to hear an overview of the proposed changes to the standards.  Read more here.

Jean Devlin, a Natural Resource Program Specialist for DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry, told the Council, "(I)f something is a mandated standard it will be assessed, and therefore it will be taught. So if there is a subject matter that is not mandated it probably is not going to be assessed, and chances are very unlikely it will be taught.”

The standards are also used to design curriculum materials for students and help guide what educators are taught to teach.

Devlin said the state’s existing Environment and Ecology Standards were formally adopted in 2002 and made “...Pennsylvania a leader in education.  We have become the best practice that other States look to to have separate standards for environment and ecology.”

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn told the Council having good, solid Environment, Ecology and Agriculture standards are critical for many things, but in particular for educating agriculture, forestry and conservation professionals.

“We depend on the students of today learning science environment, ecology, environmental civics, getting involved and real hands-on practices in agriculture and forestry and recreation and management,” said Dunn. “The bulk of DCNRs work is more in environment [and] ecology, also important aspects of agriculture, integrated pest management, managing the landscape, whether it's forestry or agriculture and ecological work.”

She pointed out these students become not only agriculture, forestry, recreation and environment and ecology professionals, they become the good stewards of Pennsylvania’s resources and environment in the future.”

[Note: The Environment and Ecology Standards were part of a broader initiative by the Ridge and Schweiker Administrations to deepen and coordinate environmental education efforts for students and people of all ages.

[It included creating an interagency, interdisciplinary PA Center for Environmental Education based at Slippery Rock University created by Gov. Ridge through an Executive Order in 1996 and then in law by Act 71 of 2008.  Funding for the Center was eliminated in 2011.

[Some of the functions of the Center were later picked up by the PA Association of Environmental Educators.]

Feb. 3 Webinar

The PA Association of Environmental Educators, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the North American Association for Environmental Education will host a webinar on February 3 to help interested individuals and organizations learn more about the standards review process, how you can make your voice heard, and to review advocacy strategies and tools.

The Town Hall - Proposed PA Science Standards-- will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Click Here to register.

Sign On Letter

PAEE is also asking organizations interested in this issue to sign on to a letter expressing concern about the proposed standards and recommend reinstatement of the Environment, Ecology and Agriculture education standards.

Click Here for a copy of the letter.


Questions on this PAEE initiative should be directed to Jessica Kester, President of PAEE, by sending email to:

Public Comment

The Department of Education will be opening a formal public comment period on the proposed education standards at some point in the near future and PAEE encourages educators and anyone else interested in this issue to participate.

A formal notice of the comment period will appear in the PA Bulletin.

For more information on programs, initiatives, resources and other upcoming events, visit the PA Association of Environmental Educators website.  Click Here to sign up for the PAEE newsletter (bottom of page, left).  Click Here to become a member.  Click Here to support PAEE’s work.

Register Now for the 2021 Virtual PAEE Conference to be held March 22-23.

Resource Links - Existing Standards:

-- Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology

-- Academic Standards for Science and Technology

Proposed Education Standards:

-- Pennsylvania Integrated Standards for Science, Environment, Ecology, Technology and Engineering (Grades K-5)

-- Pennsylvania Integrated Standards for Science, Environment and Ecology (Grades 6-12)

-- Pennsylvania Technology and Engineering Standards (Grades 6-12)

Related Article:

-- Op-Ed: Why Environmental Literacy Should Be Part Of Pennsylvania’s Education Standards - Anna R. Pauletta, PA Student Member, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Board Of Trustees

[Posted: January 30, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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