Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
―Franklin D. Roosevelt
The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.
―Neil deGrasse Tyson
The work you do couldn’t be more important than it is right now. And the opportunity to stand up for what you believe couldn’t be more important than it is today.
The Administration’s budget, as many of you know, was released last week, and included massive cuts for education, environmental protection, science, STEM, the arts, afterschool programs, social innovation, and so many other areas that enhance our work in environmental education to create a more just and sustainable future. It also specifically cuts funding for environmental education in EPA, NOAA, and other federal agencies that have supported environmental education, under every administration, for decades. Although the proposed cuts are deep, Congress needs to approve the budget and we are working tirelessly with our Affiliates and other partners to restore funding for environmental education in the 2018 budget.
Many of you have asked how you can help support the programs that you care about without taking a political stand. It’s important to remember that environmental education is a non-partisan issue: Environmental education does not advocate a particular viewpoint or course of action, but focuses on creating a nation of learners and thinkers who are civically engaged and are actively working to protect environmental quality, promote social equity, and strive for shared prosperity for all.
Here are six things you can do now that would truly make a difference. I hope you’ll choose those actions that best reflect your personal and organizational values and what you believe will have the most impact.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW!
- Meet, Write, and Call Your Members of Congress: Your Voice Counts!
If you’ve never interacted with your elected officials—please take this opportunity to get involved. Visit NAAEE’s policy page to get specific information about how to schedule a visit, how to write an effective letter or postcard, and how to call your elected officials. All efforts help, but personal visits with your elected representatives (or their staff) are the most effective of all. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents—whether they are fully on board to support EE or not.
The most urgent request is to ask your representatives and senators to sign on to two key letters outlined on our policy page. We need to restore funding to the Office of Environmental Education and to support NOAA’s environmental education program—and we want members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to support this important work.
Learn more and take action here: naaee.org/advocacy/appropriations-materials.
And a big thanks to all our partners who are working with us to help restore funding!
- Take Part in the Marches, Town Hall Meetings, and Other Activities that Support Your Work and Values: Numbers Count
NAAEE is officially supporting the non-partisan March for Science on April 22nd in celebration of Earth Day. Because environmental education is an interdisciplinary field with a grounding in science, the March for Science is a way to join with more than a hundred other organizations to show support for the importance of science in our work.
The mission of the March for Science is to “champion robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence-based policies in the public interest.”
Organizations from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to the Center for Biological Diversity to Monterey Bay Aquarium are supporting this public, non-partisan show of support for science. Rush Holt, the CEO of AAAS, says that the March for Science is not a partisan march—it is about advocating for science and its role in society, not for a particular political ideology. To learn more, visit marchforscience.com.
- Join NAAEE’s Action Network and eePRO: Participation Counts
This is simple—join NAAEE’s Action Network and take part in monthly calls and action alerts to lend your voice to urgent and timely issues. And sign up for eePRO to get updates on policy initiatives that impact the work of environmental educators.
- Get Involved in Your Community: Civic Engagement Counts
NAAEE’s mission is to advance environmental literacy and civic engagement—we want to empower people to protect the environment and get involved in activities that can shape positive community change. Think about what civic engagement means to you and your organization. Although many people equate civic engagement with political action, it is any action that helps improve the quality of life—both political and non-political.
Look for ways to partner with organizations working on civic engagement in your community and support local initiatives that get others involved. Can you team up with local organizations to hold a town hall meeting or use social media to get people to a town hall meeting to bring up issues that you care about? Can you sponsor service learning projects that address environmental or social issues in your community?
Tweet us about how you are making a difference in your community. We want to share stories and inspire others to take action.
- Submit a Proposal for Puerto Rico: Collective Impact Counts
We encourage you to submit a proposal for our Annual Conference in Puerto Rico. Here’s a link to the call for presentations: naaee.org/conference. Please share widely. With a focus on Tbilisi + 40 and imagining the world we are working to create, it’s an opportunity to show support for EE and learn with others about how we can create change. And our partners in Puerto Rico are working hard to ensure that this is one of our best conferences yet!
- Donate to NAAEE: Your Support Counts
While NAAEE has always been the champion for environmental education, our task has never been more challenging at the federal level. More resources than ever are required now to help us make the case for environmental education, restore funding, and build on decades of progress. Your support is crucial in helping us do this work. Donate now!
In spite of the troubling news for EE in the past few months, we are seeing more people everywhere getting involved in local, state, national, and global issues—and hope that you can join in efforts to make your voice heard. We know that more than 90 million eligible voters didn’t vote in the last election—and we need to think about what the role of environmental education is in addressing issues of civic engagement. I encourage all of you to help us think through what we should be doing to empower people of all ages to participate in civic life—from voting to serving on local boards to running for office and more. Environmental education is one of the most effective tools we have for creating an informed citizenry that has the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and motivation to protect the environment, and ensure that everyone has access to a healthy environment and healthy communities. Your work has never been more critical.
NAAEE Executive Director
Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.
—Martin Luther King Jr.
Democracy Dies in Darkness
—Tagline for the Washington Post