Place-Based Education Engages Thousands
of K-12 Students Around Casco Bay
Schools and Nonprofits Collaborate to Provide Environmental Education
WHY IT MATTERSThousands of K-12 students in the Casco Bay region participate in community-based environmental learning programs run by schools, nonprofits, and government agencies. These in-school or field-based programs educate youth about the environment while connecting them to their communities. Community-based learning has many positive impacts, from enhancing critical thinking skills and increasing environmental literacy, to providing youth with a much-needed connection to nature and to real-world issues in their communities. These education programs foster a greater understanding of local environmental impacts and can lead to volunteer stewardship efforts that have a positive effect on the Casco Bay ecosystem.
STATUSIn 2020, CBEP canvassed partner nonprofits and land trusts that provide K-12 environmental education programs. Their responses showed that place-based education is reaching more than 7,900 students in most of the watershed’s communities.
Participating Students by Grade Level
Alignment with Next Generation Science Standards
One nonprofit noted that their biggest success is “working with teachers who are eager to bring real, local issues and collaborative problem solving to their students.”
Successes and challenges
- Some of the challenges organizations face in carrying out K-12 educational programs include staff capacity issues, funding, scheduling, and the “constant shuffling of science curriculum” that one organization says puts them at risk of program cancellation if they “can’t adapt quickly to content and standards.”
- Many local organizations recognize the importance of instilling an appreciation for the natural world at an early age, and to that end, are creating early childhood place-based learning programs.
- Partner organizations need support and training in science standards, to increase linkages between these organizations and school systems. Schools also need support and training on incorporating place-based learning into their existing curricula.
- The most successful education programs seem to be those with long-standing connections with the schools in their area, where teachers reach out regularly and the provider organizations share resources.