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Census Highlights Outdoor and Environmental Education in Maine

A mix of children and adults can be seen mingling in the State House in Augusta. Tables and signage for various organizations are set up.

This February, Teach ME Outside, a collaborative project between Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA), Maine Environmental Education Association, and the Nature Based Education Consortium released the 2022 Community-Based Outdoor and Environmental Learning Census (CBEL), a survey that covers the entirety of Maine.

In this follow-up report to the 2019 Census, data was captured from more than 900 individuals from all 16 counties. In addition to providing essential data points for decision makers to use in identifying and supporting future opportunities for outdoor learning, the census also underscores the specific ways environmental learning is occurring in communities around the state via narratively rich case studies.

The launch was marked by an event at the State House on February 27. As the Maine Monitor detailed in their writeup of the event, educational experiences that allow students to connect with the natural world are both formative and critical to a future in a rapidly changing world.

Five programs were recognized as examples of high-quality outdoor education in Maine. These programs were spotlighted to demonstrate the successes, opportunities, and challenges in community-based outdoor and environmental learning across our state as part of the Census report.

  • Save Our Pollinators: Loranger Memorial School students plant pollinator gardens in Old Orchard Beach and learn about climate change thanks to a partnership with Community Friendly Connection, the Libby Memorial Library, and support from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute.
  • Midden Minders: A collaborative project between Wabanaki Nations and Maine university archeologists, partners with Cobscook Institute to train high-school students to monitor middens.
  • Harvest Fest: An annual event at Stratton School that brings the community together to celebrate healthy living and the food the students grow in the school gardens.
  • Region 9’s Outdoor Skills and Leadership Program: This course prepares students for careers connected to the outdoors while teaching them outdoor survival and leadership skills.
  • Wells Reserve Nature & Science Week: Held every summer, this camp provides woman-identifying non-English speaking highschoolers an outdoor summer camp experience where they work with teachers from Portland High School, scientists, and researchers.

“The census is the most powerful tool we have for informing policy, decision making, and funding in our outdoor education work,” said Alex Brasili of MMSA. “We are one of the first states in the country to launch an initiative like this and are thrilled to spotlight examples like these of the incredible outdoor education happening around Maine.”

The Teach ME Outside initiative supports and works in partnership with Maine communities to ensure all Maine youth access powerful, hands-on environmental learning opportunities. Learn more at

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