SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- NatureBridge, the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service, announces the celebration and commencement of its 40 year anniversary and its absolute commitment to educate and foster the next generation of environmental stewards. As a nonprofit organization, NatureBridge educates youth, inspires stewardship and protects the planet through interactive, residential environmental education programs in the most beautiful classrooms—Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Olympic National Park and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. As NatureBridge looks to its next 40 years, it will redouble its efforts to drive increased awareness about the importance of environmental literacy and work to connect more youth to the natural world.
In July 2011, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), in collaboration with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, published a statewide survey focused on Californians and the Environment. The survey found that 90 percent of adults think that environmental education should be taught to K-12 students. Yet very few students, and often only the most privileged, are exposed to inquiry-based environmental science. Currently, Maryland is the only state that requires every high school student to participate in an environmental literacy course before graduation.
At the same time, studies show that children today spend half as much time outside versus 20 years ago and, on average, spend six and a half hours every day plugged into electronic media. These early experiences, through formal and informal systems, influence a lifetime of behavior that directly reflects their detachment from the environment. As NatureBridge looks forward to the next 40 years, it will aim to unplug today's digitally-driven youth and connect them with the natural world, increase the impact of educational programs and inspire responsible environmental behavior.
"Environmental literacy is vital for all people—youth, policy makers, scientists and educators. It is indeed a critical component to building a more sustainable economy and future," said Susan Smartt, president and CEO at NatureBridge. "In the decades to come, we must arm our youth with strong environmental knowledge, an appreciation of nature's beauty and a passion that inspires them to preserve and protect the world's natural places."
What separates NatureBridge from other organizations is the quality of the education students receive. NatureBridge's field science educators are among the most experienced in the industry. Its three to five day immersive programs are customized for each school based on student needs, cultural considerations, and teacher goals, including compliance with state standards. The NatureBridge Core Educational Framework makes these adaptable and flexible programs possible. The three key priorities in the framework help students develop a personal Sense of Place, understand their Interconnections with the natural world and empower Stewardship.
"NatureBridge is committed to research-based practice through immersive, field-based environmental literacy programs for youth," said Nicole Ardoin, assistant professor at Stanford University's School of Education and Woods Institute for the Environment, and chair of NatureBridge's Education Advisory Council. "The organization's approach provides a powerful means of engaging youth in comprehensive, inquiry learning that supports academic achievement, inspires stewardship, and encourages connection to place."
Over the last 40 years, NatureBridge provided one million K-12 students from all walks of life the opportunity to experience immersive national parks-based environmental education programs. This year alone, more than 30 percent of schools will receive scholarship assistance from NatureBridge.
Founded in 1971 as Yosemite Institute and based in San Francisco, NatureBridge is the leader in residential field science and environmental education for America's youth. Its mission is to inspire personal connections to the natural world and responsible actions to sustain it. A signature partner of the National Park Service, NatureBridge currently operates campuses in Yosemite National Park; Golden Gate National Recreation Area; Olympic National Park in Washington State; and Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, collectively serving more than 40,000 participants annually through field science, youth leadership and teacher training programs. NatureBridge partners with a diverse mix of corporate, environmental, education, federal and state organizations also focused on nurturing environmental stewardship, including Clif Bar, Google, Intel, Klean Kanteen, National Geographic Education Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, Oracle and REI. NatureBridge is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization. For more information, log on to www.naturebridge.org.
Shannon Hutto | Bateman Group for NatureBridge
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