Your students look up in awe as a Red-tailed Hawk soars on a thermal overhead. A toddler giggles as the tide tickles her toes on an interpretive hike for pre-schoolers. A community gathers to discuss the benefits of converting a piece of public property into a local garden project. Environmental Education is not a luxury we can choose to indulge in, but a necessity to assist an educated population in living in harmony with the natural world.
What is Environmental Education?
Environmental Education is broad and hard to define, but can be found everywhere. It happens as second graders watch monarch butterflies emerging from cocoons in a classroom aquarium. It happens when a family stops to read an interpretive sign about basalt flows encasing a forest of ponderosa pines. It happens when a park ranger leads hikers at Crater Lake down a hill, body sledding in January. The field of Environmental Education has been around for decades, but we are continuing to gain more understanding about its methods and importance.
New research is showing that individuals who feel more connected to the outdoors are more willing to stand up for it. But, what creates this connectedness? Environmental Education hopes to connect students of all ages with their surrounding environment. By teaching about the wonders of the natural world and how humans are connected with it, environmental educators can have an enormous impact on the future of our world.
With smaller class sizes come more opportunities. As a student in this program you will find the professors are extremely dedicated to the development of exceptional environmental educators. They will often go out of their way to make sure their students are comfortable with a topic, are always an email or phone call away for questions about classes or capstone, and often teach through experience.
In 2016, our Master’s program at SOU was accredited by the North American Association for Environmental Education, for its unique process of developing leaders in the field, making it the first program to receive this national accreditation in the Pacific Northwest and the only such accredited program on the West Coast.
Nestled in the convergence of multiple ecosystems, Southern Oregon provides an abundance of opportunity in the field of environmental education. With the Pacific Ocean to the West, the Mountains to the East, the Redwoods to the South, the Rogue River to the North, and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument on our doorstep, the only limit to your experience will be your willingness to step outside.
This area has seen a recent influx in non-profits providing a wide variety of environmental education services. This has been invaluable to our students looking for internships and employment opportunities. The city of Ashland is also home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, providing many possibilities to enhance one’s culture. Through farmers markets, craft shows, and small businesses, there are numerous opportunities for organic shopping and buying local. There is also a strong culture of rehoming and reusing enabling anyone who so chooses to reduce their environmental footprint.
Nationally Accredited Graduate Program
by the North American Association for Environmental Education