04-05-21 Difference Makers: Cultivating Climate Literate Students
Guest: Jeanine Silversmith, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Environmental Education Association (RIEEA)
A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of American teenagers say they have learned either little or nothing about the causes or ways to reduce the effects of climate change, yet 61 percent say the issue of climate change is very important to them personally. Other surveys find that four out of five U.S. adults support climate change education for young people regardless of geographic location or political affiliation. While the Climate Change Education Act has just been reintroduced in the U.S. Congress, Rhode Island has introduced the 2021 Climate Literacy Act. This local bill seeks to ensure that all Rhode Island public school students become environmentally and climate literate by the time they graduate from twelfth grade. In this episode, we’ll be talking about the Rhode Island bill, what it entails and the legislative process itself. We will also discuss civic engagement opportunities for adults and students to voice their support or concerns regarding the legislation. The show will begin with a story walk that suggests ways to infuse effective environmental education into the learning plans for all grade levels, K-12.
Our guest Jeanine Silversmith, Executive Director of the Rhode Environmental Education Association (RIEEA), has been working with State Senator Valarie Lawson and State Representative Terri Cortvriend to formulate and introduce the 2021 Climate Literacy Act. Silversmith has a background in both formal and informal education. She started her career as a classroom science and math teacher at the middle and high school level, and then managed the Wildlife Conservation Society/Bronx Zoo’s award-winning Girls for Planet Earth program. In 2010, Silversmith founded RI Families in Nature, a family hiking club, and, in 2015, she published The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal. Known for her collaborative leadership approach and attention to detail, she has helped RIEEA build its capacity and advance its mission and vision for environmental, climate and sustainability education.
Story Walking Photoblog: School-based Nature Trail – https://netwalkri.com/blog/f/school-nature-trail
RIEEA website and “Take Action” Page – http://rieea.org/2021-climate-literacy-act/
Text of House Bill H 5625 http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/billtext21/housetext21/h5625.htm
Text of and Senate Bill S-464 http://webserver.rilegislature.gov/billtext21/senatetext21/s0464.htm
Rhode Island General Assembly website database – http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/pages/legislation.aspx
Rhode Island Families in Nature website and Family Hiking Guide information – http://www.rifamiliesinnature.org/
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I love the podcast and agree wholeheartedly with the idea of incorporating climate education into the K-12 curriculum. Doug and I work with a climate emergency action group called ChangemakersCT at our middle school and I am inspired to help our middle school students to see the importance of bill writing and lobbying as a way to educate themselves and others about ways to reduce global warming. I am so glad to have found your work! I look forward to exploring your resources further!
Thank you, Annie! Glad you found us! I’ve worked with legislators to write bills and have presented both written and oral testimony at the RI State House. I also attended an advocacy training session given by legislators (to after-school programming advocates) on how to testify effectively… what turns them on and what turns them off.
– Don’t read from a piece of paper. Eyes glaze over with too many facts/numbers.
– Oral testimony must brief (no more than two minutes) and spoken from the heart.
– It helps to coordinate testimony with a team of others, so more ground can be covered.
In RI, environmental committee meetings can be viewed live via Capitol TV. A good homework assignment would be for students to view a committee session that features bills of interest and then ask questions about the session in class the following day.
Here’s the full archive list of my podcasts. https://dreamvisions7radio.com/the-story-walking-radio-hour-with-wendy-fachon/wendy-fachon-archives/
The newest episode is about mushrooms, mycelium, and mycoremediation. Mycelium sequesters a large amount of carbon. “The interdependence of plants and fungi are a partnership that has evolved over millions of years,” says [Paul] Stamets. “A major component of soils in terms of biological carbon is from fungi – mycelium – living and dead. Some scientists have stated that fungal mycelium is the largest repository of biological carbon in healthy soils.”