Blog #2 – The 2023 CEEF Teacher Institute

This spring, educators from schools in Los Angeles County and Orange County came together for the 2023 CEEF Teacher Institute (TI), Best Practices of Environmental Education and Stewardship.  

The CEEF TI consisted of four virtual synchronous sessions over the months of February to April. Over these four sessions, educators were provided resources and information from local utility companies for real-world concepts in water and energy conservation, as well as learner-centered pedagogy and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) science practices taught by a pedagogy expert and stewardship coach.  

The program required teachers to design a 5-E environment-based lesson plan, facilitate a student- driven Stewardship Project, and complete their Project WET certification. The lesson plans were student-centered and focused on experiential, standards-based, science learning. Upon completion of the program, educators were given a $575 teacher stipend, as well as the opportunity to purchase up to three Continuing Education Units from UC Davis.  

The Stewardship Project enabled educators to engage their students with hands-on experience in environmental stewardship. The projects were student-led, and topics ranged from water and energy to social justice, climate change, and technology. This year the projects consisted of community organizing, beach cleanups, habitat restoration, and community cleanups. On the final day of the Institute, the teacher-participants presented highlights of their students’ accomplishments on their Stewardship Project to their fellow educators.  After completing the Institute, one of the CEEF TI participants wrote “I, in general, just learned how to grow my own skills better, how to teach students what’s around them and how they could be active agents of change.”

The Institute consisted of 18 teachers who taught a variety of subjects In grades four through 12, thereby directly impacting over 1,300 students. An even greater impact was made after all the teacher-participants gave faculty presentations at their campuses which resulted in 260 educators and over 23,000 students learning about the benefits of environmental stewardship (about the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden).  

The CEEF Board of Directors extends its gratitude to all the CEEF TI educators for their dedicated participation in the CEEF 2023 Teacher Institute for taking the vital steps in moving the next generation forward in environmental stewardship. A special thank you to the CEEF 2023 TI sponsors, the water and energy expert speakers, Project WET and Project Learning Tree Institute facilitators, the TI Director, Maria Laws, and the environmental stewardship coach, Jan Robertson.  

To read the full report on the 2023 CEEF Teacher Institute, please see our Reports Page.

Blog #1Looking Back – The 2022 CEEF Teacher Institute

The California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF) Teacher Institute is an annual professional development program designed to empower teachers with the knowledge and skills to incorporate environmental education into their classroom curriculum. 

The 2022 CEEF Teacher Institute, titled “Best Practices in Environmental Education and Stewardship,” was held virtually and proved to be a huge success. The institute includes presentations from leading experts in the education and natural resources fields in order to support environmental stewardship projects from each class of participating teachers.

The 2022 CEEF Teacher Institute empowered a total of 45 teachers to participate, 35 of whom successfully completed environmental stewardship projects. Participating teachers provided final project presentations and engaged 3,370 students in high quality environmental education. Each stewardship project is student-initiated, student-led, and student-centered, resulting in deep and meaningful impact that students will carry with them for years to come.

Perhaps the most impressive outcome of the 2022 CEEF Teacher Institute was the indirect impact it had on over 40,000 students. This was due to the fact that teachers were required to share their projects with their entire school and greater educational community. As a result, students all across California were exposed to the benefits of environmental education, even if their own teachers did not participate in the program.

One of the keys to the success of the 2022 CEEF Teacher Institute was the use of a variety of technologies to design innovative, self-guided, modular environmental education opportunities. Participants Engaged in live synchronous sessions combined with previously asynchronous opportunities. This incorporated CEEF branded high-quality video production engaging 21st century skills that teachers enjoyed attending. The modular approach or the teacher leadership institute is easily scalable, with content that can be used for educational audiences across California.

The distance learning format of the 2022 CEEF Teacher Institute also proved to be highly effective. Busy, highly skilled professionals, like teachers, were able to design their own schedules and attend sessions at their convenience. This allowed them to fully engage with the content and apply what they learned in their classrooms.

If you are a teacher in California looking to incorporate environmental education into your curriculum, the California Environmental Education Foundation’s Teacher Institute is an excellent opportunity to improve practices in environmental education across California. Designed to be flexible and accessible, the teacher institute allows you to participate in a way that works best for you and your greater educational community. By doing so, you can help make a positive impact on the environment while also enhancing your students’ education.

Look for signup information at the beginning of each calendar year. The institute usually runs during the spring.