Environmental Education (EE) is an in-depth field of study taught to students at a wide range of ages from elementary school through college-level courses. In its complexity, EE covers an array of topics from general functionality to pressing issues and conservation. You can take many different approaches to teaching EE, as an educator or even as as parent. Rather than focusing on classroom curriculum, this guide will showcase some of the best non-traditional ways to encourage education in this incredible field.  

Get Outdoors

Wildlife areas, habitats of conservation, and even county and state parks have great resources right at your exposure. Depending on the geography of where you are located, getting outdoors could give you the hands-on educational experience you’re looking for. Creeks, rivers, wetlands, marshlands, woodlands, and more have natural habits that will allow you to observe and study first-hand.

These designated natural habitats are booming with animals and organisms for you to see in person. Do your research on a specific area to see what kind of natural habitats are there.

A great example of getting outdoors to learn is studying water in natural environments such as rivers, streams, and marinas. Whether saltwater or freshwater, certain parks and wildlife areas allow for educational experiences that are more hands-on. If you’re in a freshwater location, take your students to chemically test the water to see how environmentally health it is.

Marshlands are great for learning about birds, herbaceous wetland species, and other wetland species. You can identify species based on sounds you hear, scents you smell, and physical aspects you see. This creates a fun, in-person learning experience no matter what subject of EE you’re focused on.

Bring The Outside In

Its common for classrooms to bring critters from the outdoors inside to learn and study them. For example, crayfish are often “classroom pets” that allow students to see and study behavior, habitat, and survival.

Another way to study the environment is through printables and graphs. This allows students to learn about environments in other locations and terrain than their surrounding geography allows for.

Travel & Volunteer

There are so many opportunities for your students to get involved with environmental volunteering. Whether you utilize your connections in the environmental world or you sign up through a system like volunteermatch, you can get out there with your students and focus on making positive environmental impacts. Not only will you gain travel experience and see new habitats, but you’ll learn and make a difference at the same time.

Originally published on BarryNerhus.com


  • Barry Nerhus

    Experienced Biologist and Environmental Enthusiast

    Barry Nerhus is the founder and senior biologist of Endemic Environmental Services, Inc. He is also the president of the Institute for Conservation Research and Education. Barry strongly believes in understanding and conserving the environment as well as habitats throughout southern California. Having a passion for conservation biology, Barry also teaches part-time at a local community college to educate individuals!