School-Community Partnerships to Support Place-Based STEM and Environmental Education
Goals of the Alaska Natural Resources and Environmental Literacy Plan include:
Enhancing professional development for educators, administrators, and community members in natural resource and environmental literacy.
Fostering partnerships with nonprofit organizations, businesses, industry groups, tribal organizations, and government agencies.
- The Alaska Natural Resources and Outdoor Education Association and the organizations represented on its Board of Directors provide professional development to teachers and support the use of place-based curriculum materials aligned with state education standards. These materials provide a wealth of background information and teaching activities specific to the Alaska environment and the management of its natural resources including the Alaska Wildlife Curriculum, Project WILD and WILD Aquatic (Alaska Department of Fish and Game), Project Learning Tree (Alaska Department of Natural Resources), Role of Fire in Alaska (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Alaska Seas and Watersheds (UAF Alaska Sea Grant).
- Professional development instruction by trained education specialists and travel to school sites throughout Alaska are supported by sponsoring agencies or through grants to ANROE and provided to schools at no cost. In addition, teachers are provided the opportunity to gain university continuing education credits in their home communities without having to travel to a more central location or university.
- ANROE is a partner in a regional Educator-to-Educator project (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho), completed in 2016, which was supported by an EPA grant to develop, evaluate, and share best practices for increasing the quantity and quality of STEM and environmental education in each state. Alaska’s project was the piloting of a model that combined a $10,000 grant to a school, professional development, and on-going support for combining classroom and field trip instruction outdoors. The pilot project involved the use of Alaska Seas and Watersheds curriculum materials and a “Sea Week” celebration approach to focus instruction in the Dillingham School District. The systems-based evaluation approach documented the emergence of teacher leadership and a systemic change in instruction by all of the elementary teachers and a middle school science teacher to implement coordinated, thematic STEM teaching focused on the local environment of Bristol Bay, local streams, and salmon. Read about the project – Case Study: Increasing Environmental Literacy Through Professional Development in Alaska
- Alaska Sea Grant, ANROE’s university partner in the EPA project, has expanded the model to 11 other schools in 9 other school districts and has committed $110,000 in grants to schools along with $10,000 from business partner Icicle Seafoods. Through a focus on sustainable changes in teaching practice and the District curriculum framework, the model also supports use of place-based curriculum materials as Districts align their frameworks with the Next Generation Science Standards.