Delaware has a strong commitment to environmental literacy supported by state agencies, local nonprofits, universities, and of course schools and school districts themselves. Delaware State Department of Education and their partners encourage schools and school districts to participate in the biennial collection of data, known as the Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (ELIT), to understand the landscape and inform efforts to advance the implementation of environmental education. Self-reported data about how prepared Delaware school districts feel to implement a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy from the Delaware 2022 ELIT Survey show 8% of districts are “well prepared” and 46% are “somewhat prepared.” Results from individual school districts are also available.

To review progress of the environmental literacy efforts across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, visit Chesapeake Progress which uses ELIT Survey data only from districts within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

State-level Drivers of Environmental Literacy

Delaware adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013 to establish guidelines for science instruction. NGSS supports environmental literacy both explicitly and implicitly with environmentally related content and science and engineering practices. Additionally, Delaware is a national leader in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, many of which include environmental literacy elements, which allow students to earn early college credits, industry-recognized credentials, and work experience all while still in high school. Delaware Pathways is a joint effort between state agencies, employers, higher education, and nonprofit organizations to connect students through high quality pathways programs.

In 2015, the Delaware Children in Nature partnership developed the state’s first Environmental Literacy Plan which aimed to guide collective efforts around three major themes: 1. Defining meaningful outdoor experiences for students, children, families, and community members; 2. Defining the need for an environmentally literate community in Delaware; 3. Establishes goals for environmental literacy at home, work, school, and at leisure.

Resources for Advancing Environmental Literacy

Facilitator’s Guide to MWEE Training

The Facilitator's Guide to MWEE Training is a modular resource to support consistent MWEE training across the region. The DE version is in development and will be shared here upon completion.

Environmental Literacy Plan Template

The ELit Plan Template is a resource for school districts to use as a baseline for designing written plans that document where environmental literacy experiences occur over a student's K-12 experience. The DE template is in development and will be shared here upon completion. View examples from VA and PA.

Environmental Literacy Model (ELM) Samples

The ELM is a comprehensive planning document that articulates the trajectory of a MWEE. Find and use exemplar ELMs developed by teachers and educators from across the region for inspiration.

Discovery Education

DuPont and Discovery Education’s two-year partnership with the State of Delaware provides open access for middle and high school teachers to a suite of resources that supports business, industry, and career exploration for students.

Funding Opportunities

The Funding page lists regional and state grants to support MWEEs and environmental education programs.

Environmental Literacy Networks

Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education (DFSME)

DFSME is a business-community-government partnership throughout the state of Delaware that provides professional development on best practices and improvement in STEM programs.

Delaware Association of Environmental Education (DAEE)

DAEE is the professional organization for environmental educators in Delaware with a mission to promote environmental and outdoor education to facilitate positive community impacts on the conservation and sustainability of Delaware's resources.

Delaware Teachers of Science (DTS)

DTS is the Delaware state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association and has a mission of promoting excellence in science teaching and learning in Delaware.

State Sustainable Schools Programs

Green Building United is a non-profit chapter of the U.S. Green Business Council that also leads the Delaware Pathways to Green Schools Program. The Pathways program provides grants, one-on-one support, and expert resources to K-12 schools in Delaware that are committed to becoming healthier, more sustainable, and more energy efficient. Participating schools work toward achieving certification and national recognition through the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools program. More information about this process can be found on the Green Building United webpage.

Highlights of Environmental Literacy Work in Delaware

DE Sea Grant and DAEE Partner to Create School District Environmental Literacy Plan Template

With its coastline bordering the Atlantic Ocean and portions of the state being in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, it is critical to educate the next generation of Delawareans on the importance of the state’s local waterways.

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Caesar Rodney Develops Comprehensive Environmental Literacy Programming with Support of Environmental Education Specialist

Green Building United leads the Delaware Pathways to Green Schools Program. We spoke with Todd Klawinski, Environmental Education Specialist in the Caesar Rodney School District (CRSD), about his experience in environmental education including running top programs to secure the 2017 and 2019 USDOE Green Ribbon Schools Award, and driving efforts to expand environmental education in the Delaware region.

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Elementary Students Break COVID Isolation Through the Power of Gardening

Richey Elementary Principal Stephanie Armstrong said she had a conversation over tea about a year ago with horticultural therapist Kathy Andrzejewski when an idea sprouted to benefit their students. Faced with the challenge of how to get kids more active as remote and hybrid classes became more normal at the start of the pandemic, Armstrong tapped the outside knowledge base of Andrzejewski, and started a two-pronged gardening program.

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Independence School’s Outdoor Classroom Links Kids to Nature

Independence School’s breathtaking new outdoor learning area includes an amphitheater, interactive musical instruments, a tricycle track, a Wetlands and a “messy activities” area.

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