Teacher workshop in Steamboat to address environmental literacy
October 25, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Steamboat Springs is poised to be a statewide leader in environmental literacy, Sonja Macys said last week.
Macys is the executive director of Yampatika, which provides environmental education to youths and adults. She said this week's workshop is intended to get educators up to speed about how environmental education fits into Colorado's new K-12 academic standards and is the first step in a pilot program.
In conjunction with the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education, Yampatika is hosting the free workshop from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday in the conference room at the Steamboat Springs School District offices on Seventh Street.
The workshop will be limited to 25 people. There still is room, but Macys encouraged those interested to sign up soon. She said the workshop will be geared toward K-5 teachers, but other educators and parents can attend.
The environmental literacy pilot program is funded through a $4,950 gift from the Education Fund Board and has two main goals, Macys said.
She said it would provide teachers the education they need to implement programs that promote environmental literacy into their curriculums. But maybe more important, Macys said, the pilot program also intends to create a method to see whether environmental education improves academic achievement.
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Macys said studies have shown that environmental education improves self-esteem, confidence, ability to interact and problem solving, but its impact on academic achievement is less documented.
"If we want people to buy into this — teachers, educators and superintendents — it needs to show results," she said.
At the workshop, Macys said, teachers would hear how environmental literacy fits into the new K-12 academic standards, which were adopted in December 2009. She said teachers also would learn what programs Yampatika offers and how they could aid what the educators already are doing in the classroom.
Macys said the pilot program is important because the state is working to position itself to receive federal funds from the No Child Left Inside initiative, which encourages youths to get outdoors. She said the initiative would require an environmental literacy component, which the pilot program is trying to establish.
Local school district superintendents have been supportive of the program and have offered interested teachers substitutes to attend the workshop, Macys said. She said it's an important event to help make Steamboat a leader in providing environmental literacy programs that conform to the new K-12 academic standards.
"We could be the statewide leader as far as getting ahead of the changing Colorado standards," Macys said.