On a picturesque mid-April day, state education and natural resource leaders from across the watershed gathered at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for a day-long summit focused on environmental literacy. The purpose of the meeting was to explore how states can assist school systems in creating and sustaining high-quality environmental literacy programs as part of ongoing education reform and to meet Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement commitments.
The meeting kicked off with inspiring words about the importance of environmental literacy from dignitaries such as U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (Maryland) and Virginia State Superintendent of Education Dr. Steven Staples. School superintendents from Prince George’s County Maryland and Virginia Beach City Public Schools showcased environmental literacy efforts in their schools, and model programs from Pennsylvania and Delaware schools were highlighted. Attendees even interacted with high school students from Hammond High School (Maryland) who were participating in a field experience at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Dr. Monique Chism from the U.S. Department of Education discussed opportunities provided by the environmental education provisions of the recently enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to support state and local environmental literacy programming. She asked for feedback about how the Department could communicate ESSA opportunities to states and provide examples of model environmental literacy programming the ESSA could support.
This unprecedented event concluded with representatives from state departments of education and natural resources agencies making personal commitments to strengthening state environmental literacy efforts. Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton wrapped up the day with a request to attendees to convene again next year to discuss progress. Staff at the Chesapeake Bay Program are already working on the agenda! For a complete list of Summit attendees and to view the agenda, click here.