Promoting Professional Development and Best Practice in EE
Creating Youth Environmental Ambassadors
Do you work in a nature center, zoo, museum, or similar facility? Did you know that you have hundreds of potenial students ready to be ambassadors for the environment? Many programs have specific badges or other programs designed to promote environmental awareness and stewardship.
Girl Scouts of the USA, for example, have opportunities for participants in kindergarten through 12th grade to to become well-versed in topics ranging from water resources to animals to energy use to (more recently added) citizen science. Participating in badge learning opportunities can lead children to be more mindful of the impact that they are having on the world around them. Many of the "Journey" programs - themed badges collected over several weeks of learning and investigation - even include a "take action" project that encourages children to make a lasting impact in their communities. Complete opportunities can be found on their website's Badge Explorer.
Boy Scouts of America also offers important, in-depth learning opportunities and experiences that can create some of our most important ambassadors. Beginning with the Cub Scouts in kindergarten, children learn about responsible interactions with their environment via a variety of hands-on experiences. As participants (both male and female) grow, they can continue to be involved in Scouts BSA where merit badge opportunities include in-depth studies of animals, nature, environmental science, forestry, soil and water conservation. A full list of merit badge opportunities is also available online.
There are other scouting organizations as well, so researching other groups (Campfire USA, Frontier Girls, etc) and the learning opportunities they provide may be well worth your effort.
So where do you start? Many times the easiest way to make a connection is to reach out to your local leadership councils. Find your council online and look at the staff directory for titles like "program specialist," "outdoor program manager," or "experience manager" to get your pointed in the right direction to create the next generation of environmental ambassadors.