Thousands of organizations are using some form of education to teach young people how to respect and care for the environment. Those organizations are reaching millions of young people each year. In 2017 Earth Force surveyed a cross section of environmental education organizations and found that while the vast majority of organizations were interested in building the civic skills of their participants, they were looking for additional information and networking to reach that goal. Based on what we learned we have developed a training structure designed to support organizations as they work to expand the civic skills of young people. Through this work we recognize that getting the idea of environmental civics to scale will require more than just Earth Force – it will require a network of like-minded organizations.
We have labeled the list of organizations working with to incorporate civic engagement into environmental education the Alliance for Student Action. The Alliance is built around an annual program called the Environmental Action Congress. The Alliance is still a nascent network. Members are learning how to work together, finding ways to share best practices, and developing the habits of a robust network. The Alliance started by training everyone in the Earth Force model and has used that approach as a common starting point. Over time, network members’ capacity to combine civic and environmental education has expanded. Today, organizations are developing unique approaches that incorporate experiential civic education in ways that fit their unique circumstances. Some organizations are adapting project-based learning initiatives to incorporate authentic civic experiences, other organizations are designing statewide contests where young people develop proposals to improve water management, and some are using the approach to address environmental justice issues. Members of the network freely share what they learn with one another and take best practices from other network members.
Earth Force is currently working with 40 organizations from around the country to adapt our civic engagement process to fulfill their programmatic needs.
If you or your organization is interested in joining us in this effort please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.