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98 Percent of Americans are Ecologically Illiterate

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

A study conducted by the National Environmental Education Foundation discovered that a mere 1-2% of Americans are considered environmentally literate.

This is the dramatic opening statistic from the Bioneers’ podcast episode “Eco Schools: Educating for Sustainable Communities.” Bioneers is a remarkable nonprofit that focuses on finding and promoting innovative solutions to heal people and planet. Their podcast is always a source of profound interest and inspiration.

This episode on eco literacy particularly inspired our NJIN team in its vision that all education is environmental education. Interviews with David Orr, Cheryl Charles, and Fritjof Capra, three powerful ecological leaders in today’s world, opened our eyes to the critical need in America for curriculum that is centered around environmental education and the development of sustainable eco schools.

Listen to the episode HERE.

David Orr | Professor & Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College

David shares how his best childhood experiences were moments of uncontrolled, free-range, first-hand exploring in the natural world. He emphasizes that education ought to be about a child falling in love with the natural world which depends on an ecologically vibrant school environment and unstructured time for discovery.

Cheryl Charles | President & CEO of the Children and Nature Network

Cheryl explains how children are suffering from “virtual house arrest.” She emphasizes that being grounded in the natural world is extremely important for children, that being in nature teaches them to take calculated risks which increases self-confidence, and that our living standard currently keeps children indoors far too much of the time which is leading to disease, lack of confidence, and fear.

Fritjof Capra | Systems-Theorist, Physicist, and Co-Founder of the Center for Ecoliteracy

Fritjof explains how billions of years of evolution have led to an organizational system of ecology. Knowledge of this system is defined as eco literacy which, he says, is going to be the most critical knowledge base to safeguard the future of humanity. In Capra’s view, the study of eco literacy should be at the heart of all education as the health of our planet depends upon it.

Julie Kucks is a freelance content writer for New Jersey Institute of Nature and Cedar Hill Prep. Her work has also been featured in Fine Living Lancaster. Julie's writing interests include sustainable living practices, permaculture, mental health, and the power of breathwork. She also enjoys piano tuning, singing and songwriting, playing mountain dulcimer, hiking, and carousing with her kittens, Nike & Lionne.



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