The Michigan Environmental Literacy Plan
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Defining Environmental Literacy
The MI ELP Task Force, with stakeholder input, developed this definition for environmental literacy:
Environmentally literate citizens are knowledgeable of Michigan’s natural resources, the principles and systems that govern the natural world, and how human actions affect that natural world. They are able to use their knowledge to identify and address environmental issues. They are actively working, both individually and collectively, toward environmental stewardship and healthy lifestyles.
Whether we realize it or not, the natural world is the one thing that impacts us all, day in and day out, whether at work or play. It provides the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the resources from which just about everything we use in our daily life comes. So it makes sense that we get to know it – to understand how the natural world impacts us, how we impact it, and how we can enrich each other.
However, because of their increasingly indoor childhood, Michigan’s kids are becoming evermore disconnected with nature and the outdoors. This disconnection has serious ramifications for kids now and for Michigan’s collective future.
The Michigan Environmental Literacy Plan Task Force is rallying the state and unifying stakeholders around the necessity to connect Michigan’s kids with nature for their academic success, their health and prosperity as well as that of the state at large.
Working together we will develop an effective Environmental Literacy Plan that satisfies the proposed requirements outlined in the No Child Left Inside Act of 2013.
By harnessing the statistically-demonstrated learning, behavioral and health benefits of connecting kids with nature, we can build a bridge that will lead us all to a better future.
Children who have no understanding or appreciation for nature rarely spontaneously come to care about it as adults, and therefore are unlikely and unequipped to act as stewards of our natural resources.
The findings of a 2006 Cornell study indicate that, “Participating in wild nature activities before age 11 is a particularly potent pathway toward shaping both environmental attitudes and behaviors in adulthood."
Michigan’s natural resources will likely play an increasingly important role in our economy, but if we do not foster stewardship, those resources that define our collective quality of life will be diminished or disappear
Michigan’s citizens will be environmentally literate and connected with the natural world. They will live healthy lifestyles, have a strong sense of their place in the world, be equipped to be stewards of Michigan’s natural resources, and able to innovatively contribute, both economically and environmentally, to a strong Michigan.
The Michigan Environmental Literacy Plan is a statewide roadmap that identifies goals and strategies focused on:
The following set of guiding principles, identified by the MI ELP Task Force and confirmed by stakeholders, helped maintain a consistent focus and direction throughout the development of the Plan: