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Earth Notes: Environmental Literacy Corps


Students learn to read and write in classrooms, but in the wider world they can gain a different kind of literacy: a deep understanding of nature.

This is called “environmental literacy.” And what better place to learn than northern Arizona, with a big share of the nation’s national parks and monuments as well national forests ranging from dry deserts to pine-covered mountaintops.

Northern Arizona University’s Center for Service and Volunteerism recently launched a new program called the Environmental Literacy Corps.

Members serve with local agencies and organizations to provide environmental education programs. The goal is to reach 8,000 people a year in places like high school science classes, evening programs in local parks, and garden tours.

The three-year program is funded through a million-dollar grant from the Arizona Governor’s Office, and under the larger umbrella of AmeriCorps.

Members are already at work in Flagstaff, in community gardens, stream restoration programs, public schools, and national monuments. They can design their own presentations, or adapt existing ones.

Anyone 17 or older is eligible to apply for the Environmental Literacy Corps. In exchange for a three-month commitment, they receive a modest living stipend and an education award that can be applied toward tuition or student loans.

Along the way they learn new skills, gain experience, maybe even find a career path—while they share a fundamental understanding of the environment with others.

This Earth Note was written by Rose Houk and produced by KNAU and the Sustainable Communities Program at Northern Arizona University.

Rose Houk is a Flagstaff-based writer and editor, specializing in natural history and environmental topics.  Rose was a founding contributor of KNAU's Earth Notes and has written nearly 200 scripts for the series. She is also the author of many publications about national park and monuments, along with audio productions. 

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