2008 Annual Report
Gulf of Maine Research Institute

Spotlight on Education

Environmental Literacy

Throughout 2010, GMRI’s education team served as part of the advisory committee tasked with outlining a vision for environmental literacy for Maine children and a developing plan for a coordinated statewide effort to strengthen the state’s elementary and secondary school curriculum to reach these goals. GMRI’s Gayle Bodge, with additional input from Sarah Morrisseau, worked to help the group develop a case for environmental literacy, identify key areas of work, and write and refine recommendations. 

We are delighted that the final plan articulates that “by helping Maine’s young people become environmentally literate, the State is cultivating innovation, prosperity, and an informed citizenry with the knowledge and skills to address future challenges.” Maine’s Environmental Literacy Plan was officially approved by the Maine Department of Education in December 2010.  It set forth a series of practical short and long term actions to achieve progress in five areas:

  1. Standards and courses/subjects
  2. Graduation requirements
  3. Measurement of environmental literacy
  4. Professional development to improve teachers’ environmental literacy and field-based pedagogical skills
  5. Sustainable implementation and funding

Science literacy is a key component of environmental literacy and strategies to enhance science teaching and learning feature prominently in the plan’s recommended actions. This reinforces GMRI’s commitment to providing learning experiences that build critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration skills in students statewide and supporting their teachers with professional development as they learn to bring inquiry-based learning into their classrooms.

We are grateful to Anita Bernhardt, Science & Technology Specialist, Maine Department of Education; Kevin Doran, Forester, Maine Department of Conservation; Linda Woodard, Board of Directors, Maine Environmental Education Association; and Kara Wooldrik, Education Director, Maine Audubon  for their leadership and commitment throughout this effort. 

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