Significant life experiences that have inspired environmental educators in British Columbia, Canada




Ottnad, Kathleen Evelyn

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The growing interdependence between individuals and nations is reflected in the environmental conditions of our world. There is a need for individuals to be environmentally aware and proactive to live in harmony with the natural environment and prevent its continued degradation. A retrospective look at the lives of environmental educators may provide clues as to the types of experiences helpful in developing environmentally concerned and proactive citizens. A purpose of this study was to determine experiences environmental educators in British Columbia, Canada considered significant in developing their interest in and dedication to the field of environmental education. A second purpose was to explore the relevance and applicability of earlier research findings about experiences formative in developing concern for the environment to a select group of environmental educators from the same population. Leaders in environmental education in British Columbia nominated the selected environmental educators as outstanding in their field for their action oriented environmental education programs. These purposes were achieved through the use of a questionnaire sent to environmental educators in British Columbia [B.C.], Canada and through interviews of the selected outstanding environmental educators. Experiences with other people, experiences in natural areas and vocational experiences were most frequently mentioned as influential by questionnaire respondents. The interviewed educators mentioned experiences in natural areas, the influence of people and experiences of negative environmental impact, education and vocation as the most influential. The results were not entirely consistent with results reported in the literature from studies of other environmentally aware individuals. Possible reasons for the differences are presented. Information about the environmental education programs of the outstanding educators, their reasons for remaining as classroom teachers and what they consider potential barriers to teaching environmental education in a classroom based setting is alsosummarized. Recommendations for implementation of the findings are presented, as are recommendations for future research.



Environmental education, British Columbia