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Progress in environmental literacy is focus of national summit

Educators, scientists, and others pledge collaboration to address climate change

WASHINGTON - October 15, 2010 -

More than 200 educators, scientists and policy professionals from around the country came together this week to discuss global climate change and environmental literacy.  The “Environmental Literacy for a Sustainable World” summit, held in the nation’s capital October 14-15, brought together experts from many arenas—including academia, business, agriculture, government, the health industry and the media. The event, co-sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and the Ecological Society of America (ESA), aimed to generate ideas and collaboration and to lay out a specific plan for developing a green workforce and society.

Will Steger, the well known educator, polar explorer, photographer, writer and lecturer, and the National Geographic Society's first Explorer-in-Residence, recounted his personal experiences observing the effects of global climate change. Summit participants also heard from Will Allen, the professional-basketball-player-turned urban farmer who is on the 2010 Time magazine list of the world's most influential people. Allen spoke about the growing urban agricultural movement in a speech entitled “Growing Food and Community in the City.”
“NEA believes that we all have a responsibility to the environment and must take steps to stop doing things that contribute to global climate change and its effects,” NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle said. “What was exciting about this summit is that we all came away committed to working together even more closely as we build an environment that is healthy and sustainable.”

She pointed to the essential role educators can play in moving forward. “If we want children to learn that human beings have a responsibility to be good stewards of national resources, we have to teach them by example,” said Pringle. “If we want young people to see the importance of conservation, we have to show them so that they can lead the way.”

Meg Lowman, ESA’s vice president for education and diversity, said environmental literacy is essential for creating a sustainable society.“As we move into a technologically advanced future,” she said, “our understanding of earth’s systems and how humans play into those systems is increasingly vital—the more we know about earth processes, the better prepared we will be for environmental changes and future resource management.”

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Celeste Busser  (202) 262-0589,