Environmental Literacy

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Environmental Literacy is having the knowledge, skills and dispositions to solve problems and resolve issues individually and collectively that sustain ecological, economic and social stability.   

2014 Chesapeake Bay Agreement

The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, signed by Governor Terence McAuliffe on June 16, 2014, commits the Commonwealth to meet the goals and outcomes set forth in the multijurisdictional compact. The education Goal and Outcomes of the Agreement extend to all localities and watersheds of the Commonwealth and the target of environmental literacy for all students by graduation.

Environmental Literacy Goal enables students in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed.

  • Student Outcome - Continually increase students’ age-appropriate understanding of the watershed through participation in teacher-supported, meaningful watershed educational experiences and rigorous, inquiry-based instruction, with a target of at least one meaningful watershed educational experience in elementary, middle and high school depending on available resources.
  • Sustainable Schools Outcome - Continually increase the number of schools in the region that reduce the impact of their buildings and grounds on their local watershed, environment and human health through best practices, including student-led protection and restoration projects.
  • Environmental Literacy Planning Outcome - Each participating Bay jurisdiction should develop a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy for all students in the region that includes policies, practices and voluntary metrics that support the environmental literacy Goals and Outcomes of this Agreement.

Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (ELIT) – Summary and Descriptive Statistics (PDF)
The Chesapeake Bay Program's Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool – or ELIT – was distributed to school divisions across Virginia in the summer of 2022. The purpose of the ELIT is to collect important information that will help advance the implementation of environmental education efforts in schools in the mid-Atlantic region. This tool, the data collected, and related efforts supporting environmental education in the region are in direct support of the Environmental Literacy Goal and Outcomes of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.

The Standards of Learning and Environmental Literacy

The Standards of Learning (SOL) for Virginia Public Schools establish expectations of what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade or course in English, mathematics, science, history/social science and other subjects. The SOL in certain disciplines support Environmental Literacy explicitly and in others implicitly.

2018 Science Standards of Learning Environmental Science Concept Development (Word) - This document highlights Environmental and Sustainability Standards that are found within the 2018 Science Standards of Learning in grade K-6, Life Science, Biology, Earth Science, and Environmental Science.

Addressing Climate Change Using the Virginia 2018 Science Standards of Learning (Word) - This document summarizes student performance expectations from the Virginia Standards of Learning Curriculum Framework, and excerpts from the Content Guidelines that pertain to climate change.

Sustainable School Programs

US Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS)

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon SchoolsThe U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a public engagement initiative for school sustainability that is structured as a federal recognition award. By highlighting schools, districts, postsecondary institutions, and early learning centers’ cost-saving, health promoting, and performance-enhancing sustainability practices, ED-GRS celebrates these institutions and brings more attention to their work. See US-ED Green Ribbon Schools for more information.

Green Schools National Network

The Green Schools National Network, a non-profit organization founded in2008, works with educators, government, and non-governmental organizations and agencies, as well as private partners to create broad-based initiatives and successful strategies aimed at fostering healthy, sustainable K-12 schools across the United States.Green Schools Logo

Founded by principals, superintendents, and teachers, GSNN is devoted to accelerating student achievement through the implementation of green, healthy, and sustainable practices as outlined in GreenPrint for Green, Healthy and Sustainable Schools.

PLT’s GreenSchools!

Project Learning Tree: GreenSchoolsPLT’s GreenSchools! program inspires students to take personal responsibility for improving the environment at their school, at home, and in their community. Students, teachers, and school staff members receive tools, training, and resources for student-led Green Teams to create healthier schools. Visit the PLT GreenSchools website for more information.

Virginia Naturally

 Virginia Naturally (VAN) Schools is the official environmental educationNew DWR VAN logo school recognition program of the Commonwealth, administered by the Department of Wildlife Resources. If your school has already been working to include education about the environment in the curriculum then apply for the Virginia Naturally School Recognition Award. This is not a one-time award but one upon which your school may build and achieve recognition each year you participate."


Eco-Schools: 20 YearsAn international program of the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), Eco-Schools aims to empower students to be the change our sustainable world needs by engaging them in fun, action-orientated learning. Visit the Eco-Schools website for more information.

Teaching Resources

Project WET

Project Wet: Water Education for TeachersProject WET provides K-12 teachers with lesson plans, publications, workshop trainings, and online resources to facilitate teaching water education in the classroom. The Project WET activities are designed to be easy to use and to complement existing curricula.

Bay Backpack

Bay BackpackThe Bay Backpack is a website for teachers and environmental educators interested in teaching about the Chesapeake region. This one stop shop provides all the tools you need to give your students a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE). The site houses resources for each of the components needed to create a MWEE for your students.

Project WILD

Project WildProject WILD is a wildlife-focused conservation education program for K-12 educators and their students. Project Wild provides both curriculum materials and professional training workshop opportunities to K-12 educators.

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree: Empowering Educators, Inspiring TruthProject Learning Tree provides K-12 teachers environmental education curriculum materials once professional development opportunities are completed through the Project Learning Tree program. Project Learning Tree offers both classroom and online professional development to teachers. Some resources that do not required the completion of a training program are available at the Project Learning website.

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)

VIMS William & MaryVirginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) offers a number of learning and teaching resources concerning environmental issues in the Chesapeake Bay designed for both formal and informal K-12 educators.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Save the Bay written around a white bird flying over blue backgroundChesapeake Bay Foundation provides teachers and students a variety of educational opportunities and resources to include field programs and professional learning experiences. In addition, an on-line library with activities and lesson plans are available for those that participate in CBF courses.

Professional Development

Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree: Empowering Educators, Inspiring TruthProject Learning Tree offers both classroom and online professional development to teachers on environmental education. More information on Project Learning Tree professional development can be found at the Project Learning Tree attend a training website.

Project Wild

Project WildProject Wild offers both in person or online wildlife conservation training for teachers. More information can be found at the Project Wild website.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Save the Bay written around a white bird flying over blue backgroundThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation offers both summer immersion and one and multi day workshops to educators. More information can be found at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation website.