The Framework for a South Dakota Environmental Literacy Plan is now available.

The Framework is an outline of how educators, families, community leaders, and agency staff can plan their work to develop the environmental literacy of South Dakota’s young people.

Beyond that, the Framework is a call for school, community and family to step forward and intentionally prioritize building the environmental literacy of youth. It should be noted that this work need not always be done in addition to other tasks but rather, environmental literacy development can be piggy backed on existing initiatives and efforts.

For example, good educational practice includes hands-on learning. So does environmental literacy. As communities plan upgrades or expansion to existing assets, environmental literacy enhancing features such as interpretative signage in a park or bike lanes on a street can be included. Families can just as easily go for a walk in a park as watch a DVD for family time. The opportunities for piggy backing are endless.

There will be times when additional investments will be required of the various sectors. While the short term cost is often the deal sealer in decision making, the Framework should be a reminder that investments with a view to long term gain are often necessary even at the expense of short term return.

A rather famous, if forgotten, example of this necessity for the long term view is the Clean Water Act. At the time of its enactment, opponents were concerned about the cost of the infrastructure required and the inflationary impact such infrastructure upgrades would have on the economy. Yet, despite the threat of veto by then President Nixon, the Act was passed and signed into law Oct 18, 1972.

Decades on, the economic impact is forgotten and our water no longer bursts into flame.

How the Plan Was Developed:

The plan was funded by an Environment Education Grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 8. A series of listening sessions were held around the state to gather input from various sectors in the autumn/winter of 2011/2012.

Listening sessions were held in:

Spearfish
Sioux Falls
Rapid City
Mission
Pierre
Huron

The plan was drafted and released for comment and then again revised. The South Dakota Department of Education provided significant feedback in crafting the revised version.

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How the Framework Will Be Used

Our hope is that this Framework will allow those who have a role in environmental literacy development to first see the larger context in which their work takes place as well as how to enhance and extend what they do.

We anticipate that this document will be used to guide decision making and help prioritize the precious resources of time, energy and money. We expect that the Framework will be used as a rationale for projects and programs. We invite all stakeholders to contact us with their ideas.