What We Do
As a leader in environmental education, ACEE works at a systems level to reform K-12 education curriculum and bring environmental education into the mainstream; at the grassroots level by guiding children and youth to become environmental leaders in Alberta; and every level in between through its partnerships and professional development for educators.
We currently have a superb opportunity to advance environmental education in the new K-12 Alberta curriculum. The last time this opportunity existed was 20 years ago. At that time, our Executive Director Gareth Thomson successfully worked with Education staff to add a wetlands unit to the fifth grade curriculum; since that time almost 1 million Alberta youth have gone through that unit to experientially understand and appreciate the complex nature of the wetland ecosystem.
Now, we’re working to infuse environmental, energy, and climate change education in to multiple subject areas. Working in collaboration with Alberta Education, ACEE will positively impact the new curriculum development. Education Minister David Eggen paralleled ACEE’s hope and direction in his keynote address at the Edmonton area Education on Planet Earth conference by saying “We cannot look at environmentalism the same way that we have for the last 20 years. We’ve moved a long ways to evolve and to make sure it is not a separate subject but it is infused in all subject areas all the time, through mathematics, physics, chemistry, social studies, economics and career and life management… to connect ourselves with our natural climate and to connect ourselves with a more diversified economy.”
ACEE’s accomplishments in guiding children and youth to become environmental leaders are really their accomplishments. We are proud of our students – and excited that our work with them is making a difference! In early 2016, we engaged with Alberta youth who created “How Alberta Schools should show Climate Leadership”, a set of recommendations for leaders capturing the knowledge, opinions, and passion of over 3000 students. Premier Rachel Notley met with our students and on June 7, 2016 students presented their recommendations to the Ministers of Education and Environment & Parks. The students’ work figured prominently in the October 26, 2016 announcement of nine million dollars to ensure that new schools will all have solar panels: “The recommendation of the solar panels actually came from students themselves with the work that Gareth Thomson and The Alberta Council of Environmental Education has been doing. We took their suggestions from the white paper and put them to action. We had the chance to meet with some of the brilliant young people behind that work this spring, myself and Shannon Phillips, and we are following through on more of their recommendations in the months ahead.” ~Education Minister David Eggen
ACEE is well respected in the environmental education community and is especially known for its partnerships and professional development. Through conferences, workshops, celebration events and reconnection retreats ACEE convenes groups to learn from each other and create cooperative synergies together. Educators have come to rely on ACEE’s monthly newsletter and professional development to help them bring environmental education and sustainability into the classroom. Here are a few teachers’ testimonials:
- “You do so many wonderful projects and programs – I always look forward to your emails with all the great initiatives, workshops, and ways we can help our kids help the world! Our Eco Club was the direct result of what I learned at your Canmore Earth Matters Conference!!” ” ~L. Margetak
- “The talk [keynote] by the students really furthered my passion for teaching environmental education, as I saw the massive impact that the students’ learning experiences had on them.” ~Unknown
- “Always great to see so many change makers under one roof” ~Unknown
- “The conference has helped me understand how to discuss and bring environmental concepts into my classroom in an engaging way.” ~Simon Stenseth