International environmental problems, such as global warming, ocean pollution, and declines in species diversity pose serious threats to human health and the environment on a global scale. The National Environmental Education Act, through the Environmental Protection Agency, provides resources to local education institutions and not-for-profit educational and environmental organizations in order to support and improve awareness of environmental problems.
Section 4 of the Act provides that the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall establish an Office of Environmental Education. The office may carry out programs to improve understanding of the natural environment, and the relationships between humans and their environment, including the global aspects of environmental problems. The programs may be carried out in consultation and coordination with other Federal agencies.
The purpose of the Environmental Education and Training Programs shall be to train educational professionals in the development and delivery of environmental education. Special emphasis should be placed on developing environmental education programs, workshops, and training tools that are portable and can be broadly disseminated.
The Administrator shall make a grant on an annual basis to an institution of higher education or other institution which is a not-for-profit institution to operate the environmental education and training program. In making grants the Administrator gives priority to those proposed projects which will develop a significantly improved environmental education practice, method, or technique which may have wide application. The program shall include solicitations for projects, selection of suitable projects from among those proposed, supervision of such projects, evaluation of the results of projects, and dissemination of information on the effectiveness and feasibility of the practices, methods, techniques and processes.
Federal funds for any demonstration project under the act shall not exceed 75 percent of the total cost of such project. However, in cases where the Administrator determines that a proposed project merits support and cannot be undertaken without a higher rate of Federal support, the Administrator may approve grants including full Federal funding.
The Administrator shall, in consultation with the Office of Personnel Management and other appropriate Federal agencies, provide for internships by postsecondary level students and fellowships for in-service teachers with agencies of the Federal Government.
Interns shall be hired on a temporary or full-time basis for not more than 6 months and shall be compensated appropriately. Fellows shall be hired on a temporary or full-time basis not to exceed 12 months and shall be compensated appropriately. Federal agencies hiring interns shall provide the funds necessary to support salaries and related costs.
Individuals eligible for participation in the internship program are students enrolled at accredited colleges or universities who have successfully completed not less than four courses or the equivalent in environmental sciences or studies, as determined by the Administrator.
The Administrator shall provide for a series of national awards recognizing outstanding contributions to environmental education. National environmental awards include the Theodore Roosevelt Award, Henry David Thoreau Award, Rachael Carson Award and Gifford Pinchot Award. Apart from these awards, the Administrator may provide for the President’s Environmental Youth Awards to be given to young people in grades kindergarten through twelfth for an outstanding project to promote local environmental awareness.
The Act has established a National Environmental Education Advisory Council and a Federal Task Force on Environmental Education. The 11 member council appointed by the Administrator shall be the exclusive advisory entity for the Administrator. The Administrator shall provide that members of the Council represent the various geographic regions of the country, has minority representation, and that the professional backgrounds of the members include scientific, policy, and other appropriate disciplines. The term of the council shall be for 3 years.
The Federal Task Force on Environmental Education shall advise, consult with and make recommendations to the Administrator on matters relating to implementation of the Act and assure the coordination of such implementation activities with related activities of other Federal agencies. Membership of the Task Force shall include the Department of Education, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Council on Environmental Quality and National Science Foundation. The Environmental Protection Agency shall chair the Task Force.
A Foundation called National Environmental Education was also established in order to extend the contribution of environmental education and training to meeting critical environmental protection needs, both in the U.S. and internationally. The foundation aims at fostering an open and effective partnership among Federal, State, and local government, business, industry, academic institutions, community based environmental groups, and international organizations. The foundation is a charitable and non profit corporation. To oversee the activities of the foundation, the Foundation shall have a governing Board of Directors which shall consist of 13 directors, each of whom shall be knowledgeable or experienced in the environment, education and or training.
http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/whatis.html”>National Environmental Education Act