Landscape Analysis of Environmental and Outdoor Learning in Colorado

To be fully equipped to care for our environment and our communities, all residents of Colorado need access to environmental and outdoor learning opportunities. However, we know that not everyone has access to these transformative learning experiences.  Together, we can uncover the gaps and strengthen our environmental and outdoor learning system.

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Provide YOUR Data

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Key Findings: eeProviders

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Climate, Equity, Education Map

Background

In 2023, CAEE in partnership with the Plains Environmental Education Partnership embarked on a brand new undertaking — a landscape analysis of environmental and outdoor learning efforts in 6 Plains and Rocky Mountain states.

This project was the result of a collective desire to gain an enhanced understanding of the environmental and outdoor learning opportunities in our region who are working towards similar goals. 

To understand the landscape of environmental and outdoor learning in the Region and in Colorado, we are working together to survey both environmental and outdoor learning providers, as well as PreK-12 schools, teachers, and administrators.

Data was collected from environmental and outdoor learning providers in the summer and fall of 2023 and from teachers and administrators during the spring of 2024 to better understand what, if any, environmental education is taking place within and outside the classroom.

This data will be used to develop invaluable tools for looking at the field as a whole. These tools will visualize the outcomes of the analysis and can be used to build or strengthen environmental education programs and networks across the region and beyond.

When both phases are completed, the landscape analysis will provide:

  • Comprehensive look at organizational reach and environmental and outdoor learning program offerings
  • Better understanding of the staffing, structure, and funding of environmental and outdoor learning organizations and how that affects reach and sustainability 
  • Comprehensive look at what environmental education is (or is not) happening in schools
  • Better understanding of the needs and priorities of teachers and administrators 
  • Strategies for scaling programs for a broader, more equitable reach 
  • State and regional findings to inform future planning efforts

The survey for Teachers and Administrators will be open until May 15th, 2024.

Learn More 

 

eeProvider Landscape Analysis

The eeCommunity gathered on April 23rd to discuss the findings and brainstorm recommendations to strengthen Colorado's Environmental and Outdoor Learning systems.  

Watch the Recording

A few key takeaways from the data:

  • 309 EE providers participated across six states (51% nonprofits, 37% government entities, 4% higher education institutes, and 3% businesses). 107 respondent organizations or 35% were from Colorado.
  • Colorado providers collectively serve 469,510 students/youth annually.
  • Over 30% of environmental and outdoor learning organizations across the 6-state region are working with a budget of under $250,000.
  • There is a need to increase opportunities for engagement at the early childhood and high school level in order for students to receive the same level of engagement in environmental education from kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • 10% of programs reported providing professional development/consulting for teachers.
  • We learned that the highest frequency of programs were less than 3 hours in length, and over 30% of environmental and outdoor learning experiences are one day or less.
  • 95% of organizations indicated that their programming addresses climate change in some way.  27% of organizations indicated that either a large part or all of their programming addresses climate change.
  • Staff and leadership of EE providers do not reflect the overall demographics of the state. Almost 40% of organizations in Colorado have no full-time staff that identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.
  • The average entry-level salary for environmental educators in Colorado is $19.29/hour. A living wage for 1 adult and no children in Colorado is $24.83/hour (MIT Living Wage Calculator).
  • Environmental and outdoor learning providers in Colorado rely heavily on seasonal or temporary staff.  Over 4,000 people are employed in full-time, part-time, seasonal/temporary or contractor positions in outdoor and environmental learning in Colorado.  Almost half are seasonal/temporary positions. 
  • There are 22,861 volunteers supporting environmental and outdoor learning in Colorado.

Download the Slides

Graphic Recording Image of Recommendations Generated at April 23rd Summit.
Recommendations generated by the eeCommunity at the April 23rd Summit.

Climate, Equity, and Education Map

You can use the map in numerous ways. Find EE programs and providers near you. Discover whether certain areas of the state are less likely to have environmental education opportunities and how that might compare to their exposure to pollutants or their household income. Filter and export data that's meaningful to you.

View the Map in a Larger Format

Step by Step Instructions for Navigating the Map

YOU ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE!

We would like to invite teachers and administrators to participate in this project by filling out the survey

Through your participation, we aim to gain insights into the landscape of environmental and outdoor opportunities in our region, whether it's indoors or out, from science to language arts and fine arts. We want to discover what programs and activities are available, where there may be gaps in access, and how schools can work with organizations to enhance environmental and outdoor learning for all students. This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

This landscape analysis is a partnership of the following organizations:

Iowa Conservation Education Coalition
Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education Logo
Missouri Environmental Education Association
Nebraska Alliance for Conservation and Environmental Education
Wyoming Alliance for Environmental Education

This Project is supported by:

Pisces Foundation Logo
Denver Foundation Environmental Affinity Group