For a field that is still considered to be in its infancy, environmental education has a long history in Minnesota. Minnesota has developed four formal state plans for environmental education since 1972.
Minnesota's first EE plan (1972)
In 1971, by executive order, Gov. Wendell Anderson established the Minnesota Environmental Education Council. This group conducted a study that resulted in the first Minnesota state plan for environmental education published in 1972. The state plan was written to offer guidance and direction for educators, the EE community and government as they work towards the state's environmental education goals.
A GreenPrint for Minnesota: State Plan for Environmental Education (1993)
After seeking input from nearly 1500 people, the Environmental Education Advisory Board, with staff of the Office of Environmental Education, published the second state plan in 1993: A GreenPrint for Minnesota: State Plan for Environmental Education.
The GreenPrint laid out policy, goals, strategies and recommendations for Minnesota environmental education. For the state to work comprehensively towards those goals, three priority outcomes were identified:
- Establish a central environmental education clearinghouse
- Gather higher education institutions to coordinate teacher education for environmental education
- Offer environmental education training for government officials.
The efforts resulted in the following.
- The SEEK web site (http://seek.minnesotaee.org), Sharing Environmental Education Knowledge, was created to serve as the online clearinghouse for environmental education in Minnesota.
- The Teacher Preparation Project (http://seek.minnesotaee.org/compact2.cfm?ItemId=6) brought together universities around the state to work together on consistent teacher education for the environment.
- No statewide environmental education training occurred for government officials.
A GreenPrint for Minnesota, Second Edition (2000)
In 1999, staff at the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, under the guidance of the Environmental Education Advisory Board (EEAB) began collecting input from the Minnesota environmental education community for the development of the next state plan. Staff and board members worked to update the GreenPrint, conducting regional and audience-based focus groups and a statewide EE survey. Input centered on the progress made since the original GreenPrint and the priorities and strategies that had emerged since then.
Seven statewide priorities emerged as outcomes to help Minnesotans reach the state's EE goals (Minn. Stat. § 115A.073).
- Enhanced partnerships and coordination between EE providers
- Designated funding for EE at the local level
- Focus on out-of-classroom EE programs for K-12 students
- More support for training of environmental educators
- Better educator access to EE information and resources
- Increased education regarding responsible environmental choices
- Implementation of EE assessment tools.
A GreenPrint for Minnesota: State Plan for Environmental Education, Third Edition (2008)
The most recent GreenPrint is a ten-year plan running through 2018. Its focus is offering guidance to those helping Minnesota citizens achieve the state goals for environmental education (Minn. Stat. § 115A.073) and ultimately attain environmental literacy-the understanding of natural and social systems and their interactions. GreenPrint, third edition continues the tradition of furthering both individual program and statewide EE efforts.
The development of the current GreenPrint was conducted by staff of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency under the guidance of the Environmental Education Advisory Board. Input was sought from the environmental education community and interested individuals across Minnesota through six public input sessions, multiple email listservs and an online survey on the SEEK web site. Special attention was given to identifying leading challenges in environmental education.
To address these main challenges, four outcomes, listed in priority order, were developed for the EE community to work toward over the next 10 years.
- Minnesotans have the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make individual and collective lifestyle choices that support a sustainable environment.
- Environmental education in Minnesota is of the highest quality and is ensured through the development of standards and common definitions.
- Minnesota academic standards include benchmarks from the Minnesota Environmental Literacy Scope and Sequence (http://seek.minnesotaee.org/eemn_c.cfm) across all disciplines and grade levels
- Minnesota has a dedicated sustainable funding mechanism for environmental education of all ages and audiences.