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* Revisions to Environmental Education in New Jersey: A Plan of Action

New Jersey was one of the first states in the country to develop a statewide environmental education master plan in 1993, titled Environmental Education in New Jersey: A Plan of Action. Its goal was to "develop in the citizens of New Jersey the knowledge, attitudes and values, skills and behaviors needed to maintain, protect and improve the environment." Its purpose has been to provide long-term support and direction for environmental education in the state. Throughout the 1990s the Plan of Action was a sought after planning tool for environmental education professionals in New Jersey as well as in other states and globally. Thousands of copies have been distributed for use as a reference and planning document for environmental education programs for all ages.

The Plan of Action is under revision and the draft will be available for public comment this autumn (2009). The purpose of Environmental Literacy in New Jersey: A Call to Action, is to cultivate environmentally literate individuals throughout New Jersey. The plan features goals and related strategies that will:

  • Strengthen New Jersey's ability to support environmental education statewide through infrastructure, networking, communications support and the leveraging of state funds and resources;
  • Recommend four goal-oriented strategic initiatives that guide and/or support the work of New Jersey's environmental education providers;
  • Identify the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that environmentally literate persons can demonstrate;
  • Present globally-accepted guiding principles for the practice of environmental education; and
  • Encourage the use of sound instructional strategies by environmental education providers.

The Call to Action is designed to unite the delivery efforts of New Jersey's environmental education community through common purpose, recognition of emerging needs and trends, guidance and support, information sharing, leveraging of available finances and services, and recognition of exemplary efforts. Once finalized, copies of A Call to Action will be presented to leaders in government, education, environmental protection and others. It will also be available online at the commission web site. This will be New Jersey's third environmental education master plan. A Call to Action is designed for use as a five-year reference and action tool with a timeframe for delivery from 2010 through 2015.

* What are some commission and work group accomplishments?

  • Inclusion of environmental content in the state core curriculum content standards for grades K-12;
  • Availability of dozens of environmental education professional development providers recognized by the New Jersey Department of Education as able to provide environmental education training for New Jersey educators;
  • Implementation of environment-based student improvement models and special projects, such as the delivery of the EIC Approach in nine schools and use of energy education modules as part of green school practices;
  • Funds for mini-grants for environmental education programs and projects (when available);
  • Development of educational publications, such as the New Jersey Environmental Primer (see below); and
  • Promotion of annual Environmental Education Week and Earth Day efforts.

* The Environmental Primer Publication

As part of their annual Earth Day and Environmental Education Week efforts the commission and work group revise, reprint and distribute the New Jersey Environmental Primer for distribution at Earth Day and environmental events. The purpose of the booklet is to establish a common understanding of at least 20 priority environmental terms used in environmental literature and other forms of media, by showcasing them through simple definitions and descriptions. The primer is also a promotional tool for the commission and its Website and it explains the importance of environmental education. It was developed in response to dozens of requests received annually for bulk public education materials about the environment. (Currently, the primer is out of stock.)

* Public Outreach Efforts

* Visit the commission and work group website regularly at;
* Visit the New Jersey Earth Day web-site at; and
* Sign up to receive "EEdNews," a bi-monthly e-mail listing from DEP of environmental education news.

To learn more about these groups or to get involved with their activities, contact Tanya Oznowich, Environmental Education Supervisor, DEP Office of Communications, P.O. Box 402, Trenton, New Jersey, 08625-0402. She can be reached at 609-984-9802 or at

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