Education and Outreach

Environmental education is a learning experience that increases people’s knowledge and awareness about their environment. It develops the necessary skills and expertise to address challenges, fosters attitudes, motivations, and commitments to make informed decisions and take responsible action. Education programs should be a part of an overall strategy to reach key community leaders, like teachers, school board members, elected officials, business owners, and the news media. Environmental education can effectively help support outreach goals, and ultimately affect change and motivate action on behalf of wildlife and natural resources.

Outreach is two-way communication between the Service and the public to establish mutual understanding, promote involvement, and influence attitudes and actions, with the goal of improving joint stewardship of our natural resources.

One goal of both environmental education and outreach is to promote action - activities that lead to resolution of environmental challenges. The Service advocates increased use of special events and environmental education programs to support the natural resource conservation goals of the Service and cities. In some communities, environmental education programs may be the most effective way to establish or improve community relations.

There is sufficient evidence that people living in metropolitan areas are becoming increasingly interested in protecting existing natural areas and restoring impacted urban areas to provide high quality wildlife habitat and to increase outdoor recreation and education opportunities. Cities can capitalize on this interest and foster stewardship via environmental education and outreach activities.

Examples of education and outreach projects include many activities, such as:

  • Partnering and conducting an International Migratory Bird Day event.
  • Linking your projects with existing migratory bird programs, (i.e.) Partners in Flight, American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors program, National Wildlife Federation's Schoolyard and/or Backyard Habitat programs, and others (See National Programs for a list of programs).
  • Educating the general public and local business owners about the benefits of shade-grown coffee and other tropical forest-grown products to migratory birds.
  • Partnering with a native plant society and/or your local cooperative extension service to encourage removal of invasive plants species, and to plant native species for bird habitat.
  • Encouraging schools and communities to participate in the Shorebird Sister Schools/Sister Cities Program or Earth Stewards Program (See National Programs for descriptions of these programs).