Since 2020, the Nature Based Education Consortium’s (NBEC) Climate Education (Advocacy Working Group has been committed to expanding the access to outdoor and environmental learning for all of Maine’s students. One of their early successes came in the inclusion of climate education in the Maine Climate Council Climate Action Plan. To create a state of citizens informed about forests and all the factors that impact them, of which climate change is the most pressing, the investment in and dedication to expanding access to climate education in Maine is crucial.
On Earth Day this year, the NBEC Climate Education Advocacy Working Group’s accomplishments grew exponentially with the funding of LD1902: A Resolve to Establish a Pilot Program To Encourage Climate Education in Maine Public Schools. This bill was created in response to educator and student reports of a lack of assistance in discussing an issue as unbounded and prodigious as climate change in Maine classrooms. In partnership with Representative Lydia Blume, the Climate Education Advocacy Working Group wrote and introduced LD1902 to be considered by the Maine Legislature. The bill, now passed by both the Maine House of Representatives and Senate and funded by the Appropriations Committee, will support climate education in two ways: by creating funds for professional development on climate change education for interdisciplinary K-12 educators and fostering partnerships between schools and community organizations (like Maine TREE!). Many of Maine’s classrooms are lucky to have an outdoor component to their education and are able to explore climate change in a way that’s understandable and approachable, but certainly not all. LD1902 will create support for educators in bringing discussions of climate change back to concepts, models, and examples that are tangible for students to comprehend by funding professional development and community partnerships.
For decades, Maine TREE has supported Maine classrooms in discussing environmental topics and climate change through our programs, like our Forest Ecology Research Network and Project Learning Tree professional development offerings. With more funding available for educators to acquire and implement these resources, Maine TREE aims to continue bringing classrooms outdoors to use forests as a system students can interact with to understand topics as global as climate change.