EECapacity is a national training initiative supported by the Environmental Project Agency. Training is a key part of the EECapacity. Throughout the project, we will be working with twenty-five state consortia and a number of dissemination partners, who can help increase the reach and impact of the program. In addition, we will be promoting networking, collaboration, technology platforms, and research. Here’s more about the major program activities.
State Consortia: Building Capacity throughout the Country
Creating and supporting State Consortia will help build capacity by connecting a new cadre of urban and diverse EE professionals with established environmental educators at the state level. Each year, three to five state consortia will be identified, each representing a partnership between urban organizations conducting EE with diverse audiences and more established EE organizations and government agencies.
Each state team will be composed of 20 educators from urban community, environmental stewardship, and environmental justice organizations, as well as zoos, community gardens, nature centers, schools, parks, and other organizations who are committed to participating in an intensive series of workshops and online learning opportunities for a period of one year or longer. In exchange, the state team will receive a grant provided by EECapacity. Participants will commit to jointly build EE state capacity and develop a state capacity action plan, which will be expanded as part of the training and support activities.
During EECapacity's first year, we worked with three state consortia. These are states who are interested in working with new and diverse audiences, including urban educators and communities of color. The states for Year I include Maryland, California, and Colorado. In May, five-member teams from each state came to Washington, DC for a 5-day national training workshop. They joined the project leadership team and the national dissemination partners in working together to develop a state plan, as well as build skills in cultural competency, strategic communications, advanced facilitation, the Guidelines for Excellence, and more. Each state conducted workshops for their state members with support from the leadership team and participated in training opportunities offered by the leadership team. In the second year, New England (made up of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont), New Mexico, Kentucky, Oregon, and Utah joined California, Colorado and Maryland as part of the EECapacity State Consortia network, and in the third year Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin joined the project. Click here to view where EECapacity is working.
Dissemination Partners: Spreading the Word
Each year, educators from our dissemination partners will receive training in how to infuse the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education (NPEEE) Guidelines into their programming, along with additional training focused on EPA’s environmental priorities and strategies to diversify their education initiatives, including instructional materials, websites, and online courses.
Dissemination Partners for Year 1 include the Association for Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Celebrate Urban Birds program, and the NAAEE Affiliate Network. In addition, EECapacity is working with faculty at Minority Academic Institutions and educators in Mexico as dissemination partners.
Guidelines for Communities
EECapacity also will work with urban environmental stewardship, community, and environmental justice organizations to develop a set of Community EE Guidelines for Excellence that focus on creating programs that reach multi-cultural, multi-generational audiences. See www.communityee.net
Enhancing Pre-Service Education and State Certification
NAAEE, working with the project leadership, will spearhead efforts to incorporate environmental education into teacher training programs across the country, including those serving diverse audiences. This will include working with NCATE—the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and university partners across the country. NCATE is the profession’s mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation—and by working to integrate environmental education guidelines into accreditation requirements, we can institutionalize environmental education in pre-service training throughout the country. In addition, NAAEE and its partners will work to integrate EE into those universities who are not members of NCATE.
NAAEE will also work with state EE certification efforts to help integrate EPA’s environmental priorities and the National Project for Excellence in Environmental Education, including the new Community EE Guidelines. The new Community EE Guidelines will be used to reach new audiences.
Technology to Support Collaboration and Learning
NAAEE, working with all the EECapacity Partners, will be sponsoring online training and resources to help support environmental education efforts throughout the country. From EEnews to EEjobs and EElinked, we will continue to keep the field updated on what’s happening in environmental education. In addition, we have developed a number of learning communities online to promote discussion, learning, and sharing.
In the upcoming months, we will be adding more information about the project and resources that can help support you in your work. We look forward to hearing from you about your needs and interests and how we can help support your work.
Measuring Our Success and Learning More
The New Knowledge Organization (NewKnowledge) will serve as the external evaluator for the EPA’s EECapacity project. NewKnowledge is an independent, non-profit learning research and evaluation organization with a strong commitment to information-sharing and public debate. NewKnowledge will undertake a validation study to explore the premise that there are currently several trends in environmental education learning: the more Established Environmental Education Learning community, and the New Urban Environmental Education Learning community. NewKnowledge will review existing literature about theories of behavior change underlying EE programs and explore the important networks, norms, practices, and discourses within both communities to determine alignments between these two groups.
NewKnowledge is responsible for all aspects of the project’s evaluation, and will use a mixed-methods strategy for assessing the partnerships and collaborative processes supported by the grant. The evaluation will seek to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of ECEEP’s wide-ranging national partnership and reveal how those efforts enhance or limit the project’s intended outcomes. NewKnowledge will make recommendations for new EE programs, as well as suggesting practical improvements for existing programs. It will assist project partners in developing evaluation strategies, instruments, and tools, including training workshops, online communities, and guideline development. It will also conduct literature reviews and develop resources for environmental educators, assess and improve dissemination tools, and co-author journal articles.