A proposed method for inspiring action:

Conservation and environmental stewardship are important topics to bring up in traditional science classes. Many of you are already taking steps to make students aware of environmental concerns. This is really exciting to me. I hope I can add a little to help foster this and help you move your students from knowledge to action.

A knowledge focused approach to stewardship education, that stresses the daunting and huge negative impacts humans have had on the environment, can sometimes overwhelm students and lead to a feeling of helplessness and ultimately inaction (Strife, 2012). This is not to say that we should avoid shedding light on the impact humans have, but it must be countered with tangible, age-appropriate, and realistic action steps (Lertzman, 2008). The focus should be on fostering an appreciation for nature while modeling pro-environmental behaviors and providing opportunities for practice (Sobel, 2007).

four steps to inspire environmental action

The call to action is the most important step for instilling change and value that will last well beyond your class. We practice other skills we need them to retain, environmental stewardship should not be any different. It is important to note however, that your call to action should be appropriate for the age group and prior experience with action steps. Before you call them to act, try and get a feel for what they have done in the past and what they are comfortable with. Push them out of their comfort zone but not so far that they get overwhelmed and turned off.

I encourage you to examine any projects you already do and assess if all four steps above are achieved. Here is a sample lesson and action ideas on Altering Habitats that you could use in your classroom right away, please check it out and let me know what you think!

Thank you for visiting, and reading, please comment below and share:

  • In what ways are you already teaching environmental stewardship (I will share your ideas here so we can create a reference page for teachers)?
  • Are there ways you could incorporate the four part strategy mentioned in the post to point your students towards being lifelong stewards?
  • Are there any topics you would like ideas for implementing in your curriculum?

Don’t forget to check out and comment on my sample lesson and action ideas for Altering Habitats here. References can be found here.

7 thoughts on “Inspiring Action

  1. I encourage recycling and the use of reusable water bottles instead of throwing away plastic ones and not using Styrofoam cups…Our school also does a “Campus Beautification” where a different class takes a week and cleans up a section of campus. I teach biology!

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  2. Other than talking about it all the time and sething an example in my 9th grade science class I show “The Human Footprint ” in my class over the course of two days. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s pretty good. I have developed a worksheet to go with it, and a class discussion and a writing assignment.

    We have another computer-based activity, but it’s on bioremediation, not strictly “stewardship”. Students get on the website and they compare the Exxon Valdez oil spill with the one in the Gulf of Mexico. We analyze different remediation techniques, including bioremediation.

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  3. I teach ninth grade science and biology and we do a carbon footprint and car efficiency lab to analyze fossil fuel usage. We watch the movie Trashed, to analyze the magnitude of our trash problem. We also look how the oceans are affected by pollution, greenhouse gases, and temperature emphasizing the ecosystems resources that will be lost if we do not protect our oceans. We look at the movie The Lorax and analyze the use of bottled water and how to preserve the quality of water.

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  4. In 9th grade science we do an ecology assignment to promote environmental stewardship and raise awareness. The assignment is to create a pitch to the TV show “Survivor” to come and host a season in a specific biome. As part of the pitch, the ecological concerns and solutions need to be spelled out and the students get to create a scene for the last minute of the episode detailing how the viewers can get involved in the sustainability of that biome. I had students make posters or design websites to present with. Some of the websites even had direct links to write your congressman to lobby on behalf of their selected biomes.

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  5. In my environmental science class, I do a water conservation project where students first monitor their water use for one week. The second week, they try to reduce their use by one-third and project how much their families could save if each member followed their plan.

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