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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.

Jeanine SilversmithOur 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 –

RIEEA website and “Take Action” Page –

Text of House Bill H 5625

Text of and Senate Bill S-464

Rhode Island General Assembly website database –

Rhode Island Families in Nature website and Family Hiking Guide information –

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