The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 5, 2013

Nature deficit disorder


Numerous studies are showing that environmental education based out-of-doors has a measurable, positive impact on student achievement not only in science but in math, reading, and social studies. In addition, business leaders are becoming increasingly aware that an environmentally-literate workforce is critical in a burgeoning green-based economy. In-the-field experiences, not just desk work, and related activities, when part of the regular school curriculum in environmental education, also help students become healthier.

Here are some fact and figures that demonstrate that an emphasis on field-based environmental education is paying off:

n Between 1995 and 2009, all 50 states significantly expanded and strengthened their environmental education programs, as measured by the number of key components implemented: dedicated funding, professional development, comprehensive environmental education plans and more. Source: U.S. Department of Education.

n In the past decade, the number of high school students taking the Advanced Placement Environmental Science course jumped by 426 percent compared with an average increase of 97 percent for all other advanced placement subject exams over the same period. Source:

The national No Child Left Inside Coalition is a partnership of more than 2,500 business, health, youth, faith, recreational, environmental and educational groups.

Here in Pennsylvania, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been leading the way in developing useful resources for teachers and youth leaders. Sportsmen's clubs and organization such as Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are not far behind in supporting these efforts. Right here in our valley, I heard from Sherwin Albert of the R.B. Winter Trout Unlimited Chapter about their interest in getting involved with encouraging young people to head outdoors.

Jean Wallace, who is the principal of the Green Woods Charter School in Roxborough, explained that, "Pennsylvania schools are unique in that they already have an entire set of state academic standards focused on ecology.

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