Environmental literacy is defined by the No Oregon Child Left Inside Act as “an individuals understanding, skills and motivation to make responsible decisions that consider his or her relationships to natural systems, communities and future generations.”
The stories of nature as told by animal tracks, bird songs and rain clouds are everywhere, from inner city canyons to wild mountain tops. The art and science of reading nature's stories was developed by the first people, it kept all of our ancestors alive. The clouds spelled out when to take shelter and the birds called out movements of prey. Today, schools focus on language and numbers, and environmental literacy is a niche subject for the farmer, scientist, naturalist, fisher or hunter. This is changing.
Numerous studies indicate that health and happiness are tied to playing and learning in a healthy outdoor environment. In 2009, as a measure of commitment towards protecting our natural heritage for years to come, the State of Oregon passed the No Oregon Child Left Inside Act, (HB2544), to ensure that "Oregon students become lifelong stewards of their environment and community; are willing and able to exercise the rights and responsibilities of environmental citizenship; choose to interact frequently with the outdoor environment; have multifaceted knowledge of our relationship to the environment and its resources; and are prepared to address challenges and make sound decisions for our future.
As a starting point, in 2019-2020, Reading Nature will focus on training volunteers to bring environmental literacy activities and curriculum to kindergartners nationwide. All children deserve the opportunity to understand their environment, including basic emergency preparedness in the face of changing weather systems.
Please contact us if you are interested in funding this program or participating as Environmental Literacy Volunteers (ELVs).