Explore environmental careers.
Environmental educators are teachers, coordinators, facilitators, communicators, mentors, and community leaders. They work in a variety of locales and with a variety of audiences: some work in schools and post-secondary institutions, some teach adults through workshops and conferences, and others work in places such as zoos and parks. Environmental educators teach others about issues of conservation, preservation, and sustainability and play a significant role in developing environmental awareness.
At a glanceImagine you are carefully wading through knee-deep pools of water and thick, brown mud. Behind you trail five elementary students, each carrying a glass bottle and a small magnifying glass just like the one in your hand. You are an environmental educator and today you are leading a field trip of seven- and eight-year-olds along the edge of an important wetland, looking for insects. These students have spent the last four months learning about insects in their science class and have been brought here today to see some bugs up close. As an environmental educator, you are a regular participant in field trips like this one and enjoy providing students with a living lesson to accompany what they have learned in the classroom. You started this morning by explaining to the class what a wetland is, what it does, and why it is important. You explained that wetlands act like natural filters, helping to remove contaminants and harmful chemicals from the water. Next, you split the kids into smaller groups that you are leading one at a time out into the wetland. In addition to the glass jar and magnifying glass, each child is outfitted in a pair of rubber boots and safari hat. You describe to the students the kinds of insects that live in the water and mud and explain how these insects contribute to this ecosystem. You show the group how to pick up a bit of water in their jars and use their magnifying glasses to see the living things inside. In your jar, you manage to pick up a water boatman, and you share the find with your young audience. You explain how water boatmen move on the water’s surface, then you put your specimen back so the kids can watch it swim away. After a few more minutes exploring, you will take this group back to where a table and drawing supplies have been set up, so they can diagram what they’ve seen and you can take another group out exploring. As an environmental educator, you know these students will go home today with greater knowledge and appreciation for insects and wetlands.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an environmental educator:
- Engage youth, teachers, and the public in developing environmental awareness.
- Conduct environmentally based lessons in both classroom and field settings.
- Coordinate environmental training for teachers and the public.
- Develop curriculum-based resources and provide support for other educators.
- Write resource material, including hard-copy, online, and multimedia publications.
- Deliver seminars and presentations to businesses and technical personnel on a variety of environmental topics, for example climate change, watershed protection, or recycling and composting.
- Build partnerships and networks and facilitate discussions between stakeholders of differing interests in order to reach workable management decisions.
- Develop and implement communication plans and programs.
- Manage budgets and prepare grant proposals.
Work environmentEnvironmental educators work in a variety of locations, including: In the field:
- Leading group discussions and conducting demonstrations
- Visiting schools, senior citizens, and community groups to educate others
- Giving presentations and facilitating workshops
- Participating in trade shows and conferences
- Developing resource material
- Preparing environmental awareness programs and communication strategies
- Researching curriculum and environmental issues
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, stakeholders, government departments, colleagues, and experts in the field
Where to workThere are a number of places environmental educators can find employment. They include:
- Boards of education for public and private schools
- Institutions such as zoos, aquariums, wildlife preserves, and parks
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments, including parks
- Not-for-profit and non-governmental environmental organizations
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental educator, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Social Studies
- Physical Education/Outdoor Education
- Environmental Studies
- Environmental Science
- Natural Science