Resources for Educators and Youth Leaders
Today's educators hold the awesome responsibility of showing youth that their actions today affect tomorrow, the main principle in environmental stewardship.
Educators learning in a pond
The Bureau of Environmental Education's goal is to promote wise stewardship of our natural resources. Because educators play a critical role in guiding our youth, training and providing resources to those educators is very important.
Environmental Education Centers
The two Environmental Education Centers (EECs) operated by DEC across the state offer a number of environmental education opportunities to educators, including formal teachers, youth leaders, homeschooling parents, and Scout leaders.
- Five Rivers EEC, Albany County
- Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center, Erie County
These centers are excellent places for field trips, have environmental educators on-site who lead guided lessons, and offer workshops to guide the educators on how to incorporate environmental education into their curricula. At Five Rivers EEC there is an extensive teacher resource center that houses information about many environmental topics.
Lesson Plans and Kids Activities
Staff at the centers have put together a fantastic collection of educator lesson plans to bring students out into nature and nature into the classroom. The lesson plans are grouped by age/grade and then by topics, including: animals, recycling, and water. They have also created a collection of activities for kids to do while exploring outside, crafts to create, and how to make a nature journal. And kids can visit the Kids GO (Get Outside) page for information on wildlife in New York, the activities to do while exploring outside, and to learn more about the Symbols of New York State.
In addition, educators at the NYSDEC Hudson River Research Reserve offer hands-on, science-oriented, field-based programs for middle schools, high schools, and post-secondary classes at the Norrie Point Environmental Center. Distance learning (videoconferencing) programs are also available.
The Hudson River Estuary Program's interdisciplinary lessons use the river as context to build understandings and skills required by state standards and tests. Teachers may use the lessons to create a stand-alone Hudson River unit or pick and choose from among them to support study of English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
I FISH NY has lesson plans available dealing with fishing, fish, and aquatic science. Lessons and activities include a lesson plan, background information, accompanying handouts, and supplemental activities that can be used for assessment.
The Understanding Black Bears curriculum provides inquiry-based learning about black bear biology and natural history, bear behavior, population management, and living in bear country for students in kindergarten to 8th grade. A Teacher Quickstart overview and Correlations to the Common Core make it easy to use Understanding Black Bears curriculum in your classroom. This is a partnershp between NYSDEC, Untamed Science and state wildlife agencies in New Jersey, Arkansas and Florida.
Summer Environmental Education Camps
The NYSDEC runs four environmental education camps across the state. The week-long overnight camps are open to children ages 11-17. Schools and organizations, as well as parents, can sponsor a child for a week at camp. Make sure to visit the camps website for more information on this great opportunity to connect children to nature.
Campers during an eco challenge
The Division of Law Enforcement's Environmental Conservation Officers offer the Environmental Awareness Gives Life to the Eco-System (EAGLES) Program. This program introduces students to the abundant environmental resources in New York State, the duties of their local Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO), and the responsibilities of the DEC.
Students can find project ideas, activities, and information on the Kids GO (Get Outside) page.
At schools across New York students, teachers and staff are making a difference in their communities with programs to recycle, reduce waste, save energy and conserve resources. Besides the long-range benefits of good environmental stewardship, green policies help schools and universities provide healthier surroundings for their students and staff. The Division of Materials Management's Green Schools web page will help you on your journey to become a Green School. The focus of the web page is a comprehensive solid waste management program; however, there are other areas to consider that will help further your transformation to a Green School.
America Recycles Day
The Division of Material's Management's Recycling Program celebrates New York State/America Recycles Day every November 15th. Their For Teachers page offers a pdf file of a 36-page activity booklet detailing lesson plans and different recycling day activities for students to partake in promoting recycling. The page also has a recycling crossword puzzle.
Techical Data and Reports
Various DEC Divisions provide technical data and reports on a range of environmental subjects. Many of these reports give basic information on environmental problems and the steps being taken to mitigate and alleviate the problems. This information could be helpful with lesson plans and helping students find resources for research projects.
Also, there is the New York's Open Data Portal (leaving DEC's website), that brings together local, state and federal data into one place. You can search the site's datasets by specific state agency, location or subject, or explore featured datasets. Educators can use this data to create real-world problems for students to solve, or even have students create maps and charts with some of the data. The NY Open Data Portal also houses all of the state apps for mobile devices.
All New York State schools and youth organizations have access to ArcGIS online because of special agreements between ESRI (ArcGIS's parent company), New York State, and the White House. For more information about the ArcGIS access for schools and youth groups, visit ConnectEd (leaving DEC' website).
More about Teacher Information:
- Workshops for Educators - The Department offers several professional development workshops for teachers and youth leaders: Project WILD, Aquatic WILD, Project WET, Flying WILD, Growing Up WILD and Project Learning Tree.
- Annual Teacher Institutes and Academies - Five Rivers, Rogers, and Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Centers are each hosting a Teacher Institute on the Environment where elementary and middle school teachers are invited to learn more about incorporating nature and the environment into classroom learning.
- Environmental Education Lesson Plans - developed by DEC environmental educators for students preK-12th grade
- I FISH NY Lesson Plans - lessons on fishing, fish and aquatic science
- Hudson River Lesson Plans - These place-based lessons are designed to help Kindergarten to Grade 7 classes learn about the Hudson while meeting state learning standards in English language arts, math, science, and social studies.
- Green Schools - Schools across New York are recycling, reducing waste, saving energy, conserving resources, preventing runoff pollution and working to eliminate toxic materials. In addition to the long-range benefits of good environmental stewardship, green policies help schools provide healthier surroundings for their students and staff.
- Green Chemistry - This page provides information on greening chemistry in NYS Schools: what is green chemistry and how to get started.
- Teaching Children About Air Pollution - Information to assist teachers in teaching children about air pollution.
- DEC Poster Contests - Various poster contests run by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
- National Archery in the Schools Program - A cooperative effort between DEC, school systems and private organizations to help engage young people in outdoor activities and participate in the enduring sport of archery.