West Virginia has a strong commitment to environmental literacy supported by state agencies, local nonprofits, universities, and of course, school districts themselves. Nonprofit partners like Cacapon Institute, Potomac Valley Audubon, and Experience Learning encourage school districts in the Eastern Panhandle 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. In 2019, four of the eight school districts in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed completed the survey. Data about how prepared the school districts feel to implement a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy from the 2019 ELIT Survey show one school district is “somewhat prepared” and the other three are “not prepared.” More information, including specifics from each school district can be found on the Chesapeake Bay Program’s website.
State-level Drivers of Environmental Literacy
West Virginia adopted new science standards based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Objectives for Science in 2015 to establish guidelines for science instruction. NGSS supports environmental literacy both explicitly and implicitly with environmentally related content and science and engineering practices.
Resources for Advancing Environmental Literacy
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. These templates are 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.
Environmental Literacy Networks
West Virginia Outdoor Learning Network Initiative (WV OLNI)
WV OLNI is a network of school district and community partners in Jefferson, Morgan, and Berkeley counties with a shared vision for systemic environmental literacy for every student. In addition to the school districts, backbone partners of this network include Experience Learning, Potomac Valley Audubon Society, and Cacapon Institute.
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP)
WV DEP is a state agency with a mission to promote a healthy environment including West Virginia’s air, water, and land. WV DEP maintains a website with locally relevant environmental education resources.
West Virginia Science Teachers Association (WVSTA)
WCSTA is a statewide organization that has provided for or supported many of the professional development needs of teachers of science in West Virginia for over 30 years.
West Virginia Environmental Education Association (WVEEA)
WVEEA is the professional organization for environmental educators in West Virginia. The organization is not currently active but maintains a Facebook page.
State Sustainable Schools Programs
The West Virginia Sustainable Schools (WVSS) award program is a recognition program for schools that exemplify a commitment to sustainable practices in the facilities as well as integrate those practices into the curriculum and community. All public and private schools in West Virginia are invited to apply and schools that receive the WVSS award may be nominated for consideration as a Green Ribbon School.
Highlights of Environmental Literacy Work in West Virginia
New Initiative Strengthens Watershed Education in Three West Virginia Counties
The end goal of the program is to strengthen the local capacity to deliver high quality educational experiences to all students in West Virginia’s Panhandle.
Visit cbf.org for more information