2017 Innovative Environmental Education Program Award - E3

E3 (Elevate Environmental Education)

Catamount Institute


E3 (Elevate Environmental Education) is a unique and creative collaboration between Catamount Institute and the Woodland Park School District RE-2 (rural schools in the mountains outside of Colorado Springs). E3 brings students outside of the classroom, during the school day, to study science and grow their sense of ecological stewardship. Where most schools have “specials” classes like art, PE, and music, the schools of Woodland Park have also added “nature.” Until E3, science consisted of mastering grade level standards and expectations within traditional, indoor classroom spaces. Students lacked an outdoor opportunity that connected didactic science to real-world context and that promotes inquiry-based learning for deeper scientific thinking, reflection and understanding.

E3 kindergarten and first grade students participate in a 10-week, 30 minute class program outdoors but within their school boundaries. Older students, 2nd – 5th grade, are transported to a local ranch (Aspen Valley Ranch) for 5 weeks, 2 hours/week programming, and a culminating all day trip to a local state park, Mueller State Park. During the spring of 2016, E3 was expanded to include programming for all middle school grades (6-8). They now serve over 1,600 students per year through this school day program. This innovative approach is starting to take root across the Environmental Education industry and may ultimately provide a gateway for mainstream incorporation of EE.

CAEE works to ensure everyone in Colorado has an opportunity to learn about the environment where they live. We value inclusiveness and welcome everyone to the field of environmental education.

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