Engaging All Americans: The Role of Environmental Education in Building a Weather-Ready Nation

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 3:30 PM
Georgia Ballroom 2 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Sara Espinoza, National Environmental Education Foundation, Washington, DC

Imagine 300 million Americans working together, taking care of our planet, building more resilient communities. This is the vision of the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF, www.neefusa.org). NEEF is the nation's leading organization in lifelong environmental learning, connecting people to knowledge they use to improve the quality of their lives and the health of the planet. To accomplish this, we provide knowledge to trusted professionals and other leaders who, with their credibility, amplify messages to national audiences to solve everyday environmental problems. By 2022, we envision that 300 million Americans will actively use environmental knowledge to ensure the well-being of the earth and its people. This is not NEEF's vision alone. To achieve it, we'll be collaborating with our current partners as well as individuals, national, state and local government agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations, universities and faith-based organizations, to name a few.

This presentation will provide an overview of innovative strategies, partnerships and projects that can help achieve a Weather-Ready Nation by engaging all Americans in understanding and actively using environmental information to make the best choices in their daily lives and improve the health of their communities, including:

Assessing knowledge, attitudes and behaviors: NEEF will share results from original national survey research on current attitudes and practices relating to our nation's environment.

Simplifying and amplifying key messages:

• NEEF and NOAA teamed up to air short PSAs on the Jumbotron at NASCAR's Brickyard 400 race, encouraging thousands of fans to be Weather-Ready.

• NEEF's work with broadcast meteorologists nationwide ensures they have access to science-based resources – content, visuals and continuing education – to make the links between weather, environment and climate for their viewers on-air, online and in social media.

Expanding the conversation:

• With the Hispanic Communications Network, NEEF is reaching Spanish-speaking radio listeners with short, entertaining stories that make weather, climate and environmental science culturally relevant and practical.

• Through work with partners like Atlanta's Greenhouse Foundation, the Ovie Mughelli Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and other youth-based organizations, NEEF is connecting urban youth to the local environment.

• On the interactive My Earth Changing Moments website, everyone is welcome to share or learn about others' “a-ha moments” about the environment – including videos, photos and stories from everyday people as well as celebrities, educators and community leaders.

Connecting the dots – STEM, environmental education and extreme weather: Through the Samsung-supported National Environmental Education Week, NEEF is engaging students and teachers in “Greening STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by exploring the role engineering plays in building more resilient communities.