Enriching, engaging, place-based & hands-on – outdoors and virtually.

Environmental education can be defined as informal or formal teachings on how natural environments function, and particularly, how human beings interact with nature and ecosystems to live sustainably. This site offers new and innovative techniques, lesson plans, studies, and research to help bolster any environmental education curriculum.

Why is environmental education so important? 

The field of environmental education provides educators and practitioners with a unique opportunity to strengthen students’ experiences outdoors. Incorporating observational field studies, climate science, long-term ecological studies, and cutting-edge technology into environmental education curricula can enliven existing opportunities to foster a student’s outdoor leadership, conservation, and exploration of the natural world. Environmental education focuses on connecting individuals to the land while enhancing their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills through inquiry-driven, place-based learning. Environmental educators have seen firsthand how individuals realize their responsibility (both culturally and environmentally) for the world we live in as they develop a personal bond with nature. Enriching environmental education connects STEM to the human experience in nature, how we live in the world, and how we can share those experiences with each other to promote justice, sustainability, and the Wisconsin Idea outdoors.

Status and Needs of Environmental Education in Wisconsin

In 2019, researchers from Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center conducted a survey that gathered responses from approximately 180 environmental education organizations around the state of Wisconsin. You can find the full report linked here. The report demonstrates the collective impact and power the environmental education industry has to create change. The researchers hope the report is used to support your organization in data informed decision making and to better understand the field of environmental education. On July 23rd, 2020 Upham Woods hosted a community conversation about systemic racism in environmental education. Staff issued a survey afterward to gauge community understanding of the issue. A summary of the results can be found here. This information will be used to inform the 2021 Status and Needs Assessment Upham is planning to lead.

If you have any questions or comments about the report, please reach out to Dr. Justin Hougham at justin.hougham@wisc.edu.