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.
Former NDP 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.”
We are proud of our students and excited that our work with them is making a difference! In 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. Former 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.” ~former education minister David Eggen
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:
Empower youth voice. ACEE brings together high school students from across Alberta to take the next steps toward environmental and energy leadership in their schools and communities. These students bring their well-informed youth voice to present to government, education and industry leaders. In 2016, these kids’ recommendations led to the government announcement to install solar panels on 36 new schools!
Influence a new curriculum for more than 700,000 students. We are working with Alberta Education’s staff: our Curriculum for a Sustainable Future proposes new curriculum that will dramatically increase students’ environment, energy, and climate literacy.
Give teachers the resources and support they are asking for. Teachers want to teach about the environment, climate and energy, but they need support – we provide it through workshops, convention presentations and regional networks, highlighting quality teaching resources from over a hundred reputable sources.
Connect Classrooms to Professionals. Education is changing, and more and more teachers are engaging their students in inquiry-based and project-based learning. Through this program, we inviteenergy, environment and other sustainability professionals into the classroom, providing enriching experiences for students and teachers.
Develop and deliver energy efficiency education. This new hands-on program connects students with technology that ‘makes energy visible.’ Students increase their energy and environmental literacy, learn experientially, take action to reduce greenhouse gases and help schools reduce their utility bill and other costs!
Help Alberta school boards ‘take the next step’ towards energy and climate leadership. We work in partnership with school boards across the province to support trustees and superintendent teams, helping them connect student learning to the greening of school infrastructure.
Engage youth around how ‘Alberta Schools can show Climate Leadership (Year Two).’ In 2016 we worked with over 3000 Alberta high school students on this topic. They presented their findings to the Education and Environment and Parks Ministers in June. This year the youth will speak to Alberta’s educational leadership at provincial and regional meetings, and work with them to help identify and take the next step towards climate leadership.
Develop and deliver Energy Efficiency Education. Through a joint venture with Greenlearning.ca, we’re developing a new hands-on energy efficiency education program for junior and senior high school students, using new circuit meter technology that ‘makes energy visible.’ This program epitomizes excellent education: students increase their energy and environmental literacy, learn experientially through their project work and reporting to school decision-makers, take action, reduce greenhouse gases, and help schools reduce their utility bill and carbon levy payments!
Help Alberta’s educational leaders ‘Take the Next Step’ towards climate leadership. We’ll help board trustees and superintendents from Alberta’s seventy-plus school boards ‘take the next step’ when it comes to advancing both student learning and school infrastructure. In partnership with Alberta Education, the Alberta School Boards Association, and the College of Alberta School Superintendents, we’ll build a workshop series and a Climate Leadership Clearinghouse and Knowledge Centre to engage these education leaders and support their work, culminating in a 2018 Summit.
You can help advance environmental education by donating to ACEE:
Every donation, no matter what the size, makes a big difference!
ACEE works closely with businesses who share our vision to advance environmental education in Alberta.
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“In my experience, ACEE provides valuable resources and services to the environmental education community in Alberta. ACEE is a professional organization that helps improve environmental education programs across the province.”
~ Krista Tremblett, Alberta Environment