Over the past two years, the Southeastern Environmental Education Alliance (SEEA), in partnership with Chatham County Solid Waste & Recycling, has worked to launch a new curriculum called Don’t Waste It! across the southeast. The goals of the Don’t Waste It! project were to help current and future educators across the southeast understand the systems for solid waste and recycling in their state and then provide them with resources and lessons to share this knowledge with students. We hoped these educators would go on to inspire their local communities to get involved with composting, recycling, and other waste reduction activities.
Thanks to a $100,000 environmental education grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded in September 2020, we were able to bring this program to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Each state developed a customized Don’t Waste It! guide, with state-specific resources, references, and curriculum correlations. Across the region, we were able to train 44 new Don’t Waste It! facilitators who went on to provide training to hundreds of educators in both in-person workshops and online training across the southeast.
This project was designed and proposed before COVID-19. Despite the many changes that resulted from the pandemic, the Don’t Waste It! project team accomplished all our originally proposed activities on time and exceeded all our original targets for engagement. This in itself is a huge success considering the many stresses educators have experienced in the past two years.
Some highlights of this two-year project:
We brought the Don’t Waste It! curriculum to a total of 602 educators across the southeast, 45% more than our original target of 415.
All workshops met or exceeded their goals for increasing educator knowledge and confidence in teaching about solid waste and recycling topics. Participants were also highly satisfied with the workshops and overwhelmingly intended to share what they learned with others.
95% of educators who responded to the follow-up survey changed their personal or professional environmental behavior due to project participation.
Plus, most of the states that launched Don’t Waste It! programs plan to continue offering workshops after this launch. This project is just one example of how SEEA can serve as a field catalyst, helping build capacity to ensure that educators across our region have what they need to do their jobs better.
To learn more about the Don’t Waste It! project and its impacts, please contact Lauren Pyle at email@example.com.