Climate education can look and feel many different ways. In our youngest classrooms, students gain a sense of place and connection to the outdoors. As students age they learn to grow food in school gardens, recycle, explore energy use in their homes, and document invasive species in their community. In older grades, students gain data literacy, engineering, and technical training to enter a workforce that is in dire need of skilled workers. Quality climate education is interdisciplinary, active and rooted in the community. While climate education is already happening in some Maine schools, and is required by the Next Generation Science Standards already, educators are asking for more resources and training.

The Legislature is considering a climate education bill, LD 1902, that would meet educator needs. Without reducing funding for any other educational programs or facilities or raising taxes, this bill creates a pilot grant program that prioritizes the highest needs schools. Schools will apply for simple grants from our Department of Education to help support teachers in getting the training and support they need to teach about climate-related issues in relevant, data driven ways.

Our organization, The Maine Environmental Education Association, fields inquiries from schools, and community organizations about how to find funding for training and partnership on an almost weekly basis. Currently, we have to direct folks to highly competitive grants as their best option. With state funding for these transformational learning opportunities prioritized for high-needs schools, districts would have a much better chance of gaining the resources they need to provide teacher training and to bring hands-on learning alive.

We believe that every single Maine child should have powerful community-based environmental and outdoor learning experiences. Research shows that this type of learning is highly motivating and prepares youth to be leaders and skilled workers in their communities. We also know that this bill has been conceptualized and informed directly by those most impacted, our youth and teachers, and that is truly equity in action! We support LD 1902 because it would positively impact Maine teachers, youth, and ultimately our community health and well-being.

Olivia Griset,

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