Child Leaders


Which of these beaches would you rather go to? Unfortunately, more of our beaches are becoming like the littered beach on the left. Humans have been leaving a path of destruction on our beaches.

The article The Effects of an Environmental Education Program on Students, Parents, and Community helps illustrate the impact environmental education can have on many levels of a community on the island community of Molokai, Hawaii

Benefits of environmental education for students

  • Students were reading at a higher level
  • Students were writing at a higher level
  • Students gained public speaking skills
  • Students gained confidence

So how did all of these benefits happen?

  • There are no children’s texts on the environmental issues in Hawaii so students had to read adult texts
  • There were audiences for the students writing. They were not just writing to turn in to the teacher, they were writing for newspapers and government officials
  • Some of the students went into public forums to speak about their findings and to government meetings to spread the word
  • The students knew the material and wanted to spread the word

This topic of environmental really sparked students interests and got them to want to be involved. 

Benefits of environmental education for parents and the community:

  • Parents allowed students to become more involved
  • Parents felt their children were able to make impacts that they were not able to make as adults
  • The community recognized how passionate students were about the issue and started to taken notice of the issues themselves


Okay, so environmental education worked in Hawaii, what about Ohio? We don’t have dirty beaches?

There are so many things that environmental education can do for issues in Ohio!

List of environmental issues in Ohio:

  • Erosion
  • Water pollution
  • Loss of pollinators
  • Loss of natural areas
  • Littering
  • Invasive species
  • Air pollution

There are many different issues that students can find and become experts on!

So how would I use this article in my own classroom?

Sample Lesson plan


  • Show students the video above about the plastic pollution problem in Hawaii
  • Start a discussion with students about why they think there is so much plastic in Hawaii
  • Have students fill out an environmental issues survey and have them save their results


  • Show students this picture of the watersheds of America 
  • Ask students to form groups and discuss the picture
  • The teacher may need to define watershed and help students understand what that means
  • After group discussion, ask students what they think would happen to a plastic bag dropped on the side of the Ohio River.
  • The purpose of this activity is to help students realize that littering in Ohio can have more impacts than just in Ohio


  • Show them this video at the beginning of the second day of the unit. It may not be at this step, but it will be a good way to get the students thinking again.
  • This is when I want my students to branch off and do their own research on any environmental issue they can find in their hometown or state. I will provide them with examples of issues, but they are to select on that interests them. They can do this in groups, but the groups should be formed based on interests, not friends.
  • This research should be done in class and at home. Be sure to give students adequate time to research.


  • Start with this video
  • Have students form small groups and briefly discuss the different causes of the changes shown in the video
  • After the discussion, have students continue researching their environmental issue


  • Students will create some sort of project based on their chosen environmental issue
  • Students can choose what format to use for their project
  • At the end of presentations (if there are any), have students fill out the same questionnaire as before about their feelings about environmental issues
  • Students can end here, but the teacher can and should encourage the students to take what they had learned out to the public and spread their knowledge. They can go to the friends, family, politicians, neighbors, or anyone who will listen to try and spread the word.



Volk, T. )., & Cheak, M. ). (2003). The effects of an environmental education program on students, parents, and community. Journal Of Environmental Education34(4), 12-25. doi:10.1080/00958960309603483



  1. Meghan,
    I think this could be applied to almost any science concept that is heavily reported in the news. Global warming or the treatment of animals for example. It is something that students can really understand and then become passionate about. I think you could also do this within any other subject area such as reading and history as well. It just has to be something the students are interested in learning more about and changing their community.

  2. Shay-
    Very cool lesson plan! I think getting students engaged in the community is a great way to foster their learning. So many times, students ask, “Why does this matter? When will I ever use this?” Environmental focuses like this allow students to apply what they are learning NOW. They are able to get involved instantly. The article I chose also has students engaging in their community by becoming more environmentally conscious. What other subjects do you think students will be able to apply outside the classroom to impact their communities?

  3. Shay, I think something that is cool about environmental education and engaging with it is that it is so easy to see the personal connection one has to the topic. When we are learning about the environment a student can walk outside any door and most likely be able to apply a concept they just learned. We live in the environment and we effect it, no other content area has the kind of “instant gratification” that comes with learning an environmental concept and going outside and seeing it in action.

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