Teach ME Outside

MMSA is proud to have collaborated with the Maine Environmental Education Association and the Nature Based Education Consortium to help create this new video for the Teach ME Outside initiative highlighting community-based environmental learning in Maine.

“Out of the Classroom, Out in Community, Outside the Box”

The goal of Teach ME Outside is to support and work in partnership with Maine communities to ensure that all Maine youth have access to powerful, hands-on environmental learning opportunities. Building on the results of the 2019 Census of Community-Based Environmental Learning, this initiative will focus on reducing barriers and sharing creative community-designed solutions to increase schools’ and organizations’ ability to implement community-based environmental learning (CBEL). This collaborative effort will also increase opportunities for professional learning, data sharing, systemic reform, networking, and partnership support.

Specific initiatives include:Teach ME Outside

  • Convening listening sessions across Maine to hear feedback directly from educators about how to address barriers and support CBEL in their diverse settings in both the short and long-term
  • Engaging in outreach to expand and deepen the network of educators and organizations connecting youth to their environment and communities
  • Visualizing Census data and networks across Maine using digital tools that connect educators with community partners and resources to advance CBEL
  • Developing open-source professional learning opportunities for educators
  • Developing an Evaluation Collaborative to support evaluation of CBEL projects and track field-wide impact over time
  • Building long term systems-level support for CBEL in Maine

Get Involved!

Help us build an outdoor and environmental learning online directory for Maine!

Teach ME Outside has started work on an online directory of Maine Environmental Education and Outdoor Learning providers and organizations that will exist as a dynamic and searchable tool. Becoming a listing on this directory is a totally free opportunity and helps to build awareness of who you are and the great work you are doing in the state! This tool will be a resource for teachers and the public to search for community partners to help support their work—make sure your organization is included!

Why This Work Matters 

When educators and communities design and implement community-based environmental learning programs there are broad and lasting benefits for youth. In addition to achieving the ultimate goal of a more environmentally literate, engaged population, CBEL has been shown to have the following positive impacts:

  • Increases students’ motivation and interest in learning by engaging them in participatory activities and drawing connections between classroom content and the real world[1]
  • Improves standardized test scores[2] and assists educators with meeting K-12 benchmarks[3]
  • Serves as an “equalizer” among students with different learning abilities and styles by allowing educators to cater to multiple students’ needs[4]
  • Enhances critical thinking, leadership, and collaboration skills that can help students succeed in the 21st century[5]
  • Empowers students to become engaged citizens and make a difference in their community[6]

Teach ME OutsideCommunity-Based Environmental Learning in Maine

A recent landscape analysis recognizes that Maine provides a wealth of CBEL initiatives for youth, both in and outside of school. But, many of these initiatives work in isolation from other similar programs, lack resources or training, and do not measure the impact of the educational experiences they offer. In addition, there are areas of the state that are underrepresented in CBEL.

Findings from the Census include:

  • Educators highlighted extended programming as the most impactful to their students, yet short-term experiences are most commonly used across schools and organizations
  • Schools with high Free and Reduced Lunch eligibility report more significant challenges to implementing CBEL
  • Partnerships are directly correlated to best-practice aligned programming
  • Educators had clear needs for professional development support and structures to support continued professional growth

Teach ME Outside builds on the collaborative work of many different organizations and individuals over the past decade and is led today by a partnership between the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, Maine Environmental Education Association, and Nature Based Education Consortium. This project is made possible with support from the Pisces Foundation and the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.

Project Funders

Pisces Foundation
Elmina B. Sewall

Project Partners

Nature Based Education Consortium
MEEA

Project Staff

[1] Stone, M.K. (2001). STRAW: Students and teachers restoring a watershed. Center for Ecoliteracy. https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/straw-studentsand-teachers-restoring-watershed.
[2] Bartosh, O., Tudor, M., Ferguson, L., & Taylor, C. (2006). Improving test scores through environmental education: Is it possible? Applied Environmental Education and Communication 5(3), 161-169.
Jennings, N., Swidler, S., & Koliba, C. (2005). Place-Based Education in the Standards-Based Reform Era—Conflict or Complement? American Journal of Education 112(1), 44-65. doi:10.1086/444522
[3] Wheeler, G. & Thumlert, C. (2007). Environmental Education Report. Olympia, WA: OSPI.
Danforth, P.E., Waliczek, T.M., Macey, S.M., & Zajicek, J.M. (2008). The effect of the National Wildlife Federation’s Schoolyard Habitat Program on fourth grade students’ standardized test scores. HortTechnology 18(3): 356-360.
[4] Schneller, A. J. 2008. “Environmental Service Learning: Outcomes of Innovative Pedagogy in Baja California Sur, Mexico.” Environmental Education Research 14 (3): 291–307.
[5] Ernst, J. A. & Monroe, M. (2006). The effects of environment-based education on students’ critical thinking skills and disposition toward critical thinking. Environmental Education Research, 12(3-4), 429–443. doi:10.1080/13504620600942998
Volk, T. L., & Cheak, M. J. (2003). The effects of an environmental education program on students, parents, and community. The Journal of Environmental Education, 34(4), 12–25. doi:10.1080/00958960309603483
[6] Ardoin, N. M., Bowers, A. W., Roth, N. W., & Holthuis, N. (2018). Environmental education and K-12 student outcomes: A review and analysis of research. The Journal of Environmental Education, 49(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/00958964.2017.1366155

During this pandemic educators have been forced to reinvent the way they reach kids and all of us here at MMSA have been working hard to shift our programming, professional learning opportunities, and research to overcome this incredibly difficult challenge for educators across Maine and the nation.  

Your support is a crucial component of our efforts to continually expand STEM education programs during these uncertain and challenging times.

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