Importance of Environmental Education

Dear community member,

Tomorrow is Earth Day, an opportunity to reflect on our role in stewarding the environment, both here in the Monterey Bay and across our planet. 

As educators, we are committed to providing our youth with the knowledge and tools they need to become responsible stewards of the earth. By teaching students about science, climate change, renewable energy, and conservation, we can empower our youth to take action and make a positive impact on the environment.

One way we accomplish this is by providing a platform for student leaders through Youth for Environmental Action (YEA). These high school students this week hosted their third-annual environmental action summit, convening groups of diverse peers from 11 local high schools to discuss environmental issues and how to take effective action. I had the opportunity to listen and learn from these students. Highlighting the very real consequences of climate change here in our community, I heard from students who were living in shelters as a result of being displaced by the floods in the Pajaro. I was struck and inspired by their commitment to taking concrete steps to address the climate crisis and work towards environmental sustainability and justice.

Also this week, we celebrated our first cohort of teachers who completed our new Teacher Leadership Institute for Sustainability. The Institute’s goal is to build the capacity of TK-12 teachers to integrate environmental sustainability, outdoor learning, and student action projects into their core curriculum. These amazing teacher leaders came together Saturday to swap stories of their project highlights in a “Share Fair.” Each teacher has also created a Green Classroom Profile to inspire the next cohort of teachers joining the program and build toward a shared vision of Every Classroom a Green Classroom!

Finally, I want to take a moment to acknowledge our incredible Environmental Literacy Coordinator, Amity Sandage, who leads this work – not only locally, but also through her position on the leadership council of the California Environmental Literacy Initiative (CAELI). We have partnered with CAELI to provide this Partner Portal that connects educators to environmental programs and partners in our county.  For those interested in exploring Earth Day and environmental education further, please see the resources below: 

In the year ahead, we’ll continue working to advance environmental education and ensuring that our youth have the knowledge and skills to become scientists, policymakers, and leaders. 

Yours in education and equity,
Dr. Faris Sabbah
County Superintendent of Schools

This message first appeared in the April 21, 2023, edition of COE Community Update, a weekly newsletter from Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Faris Sabbah. Subscribe here for regular updates on issues, events and opportunities impacting the Santa Cruz County school community.