2016—A Year of Accelerated Momentum for Environmental Literacy

By Will Parish|November 30, 2016

It’s almost the end of the year—and what an exciting one it has been for Ten Strands and our partners! Teachers are embracing environmental literacy in thousands of schools throughout California, and the momentum continues.

Environmental literacy is being infused into the core subjects of science, history-social science, and English language arts. Students taught these subjects through an environmental lens are feeling engaged in their learning both inside and outside the classroom. They are learning how we are intertwined with nature, not separate from it, and that everything we do impacts our environment.




When I was a classroom teacher, I discovered that using environmental contexts gave students the critical thinking and problem solving skills to understand the course correction that humanity needs—away from a path of diminishing returns and toward a flourishing future. We can all become conscientious stewards of our environment.

Together with our partners and thanks to our funders, Ten Strands has made significant progress in our work this year. Focusing on systemic change, we:

  • Partnered with the California Department of Education to lead the state’s Environmental Literacy Steering Committee to implement the strategies outlined in A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy.
  • Worked with our partners to ensure California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts were included in new statewide guides that support teachers and require publishers to integrate environmental literacy into future instructional materials for students.
  • Brought together classroom teachers and local environmental education providers to create science lessons that extend the classroom experience to the outdoors.
  • Launched partnerships with statewide teacher training organizations to work with teachers on how to weave environmental literacy into the core subjects they teach everyday.
  • Reached a major milestone in our work with the Education and Environment Initiative Curriculum, as more than 14,000 teachers are now trained to use it and over 4,400,000 student lessons are in circulation.




Ten Strands has seen our success grow by taking advantage of the “Goldilocks” moment that we are experiencing in the field of environmental literacy. The conditions are “just right” to embed environmental literacy into California’s education system. Now that our country has elected national leadership that threatens to undo progress on taking care of our environment, we have additional reasons for why environmental literacy is so important. We need an educated populace to communicate to our leaders the reliance that humans will always have on a healthy environment. California is taking the lead in this effort, and Ten Strands and our strategic partners are out front.

Widespread environmental literacy is key to ensuring all students are equipped with the knowledge, the right tools, and the inspiration to solve the environmental problems of the 21st century. Our work and partnerships are making an impact at all levels of education in California—in the classrooms, in school districts, in county offices of education, at the California Department of Education and at the State Board of Education. For true systemic change to take hold, all these levels need to be engaged and that’s the leadership role Ten Strands plays in reaching the goal of environmental literacy for all K­–12 California students.

As you are planning your year-end charitable giving, we ask you to consider a gift to Ten Strands to further accelerate our work to bring environmental literacy to all California students. Join us today!



Will Parish
This article was written by Will Parish

Will Parish is a credentialed public high school science educator with a 30-year record of innovative accomplishments in the environmental and educational fields. He taught Environmental Science at Gateway High School in San Francisco, and now serves on the board. He served on the California State Board of Education’s Curriculum Commission and then founded Ten Strands as a nonprofit organization to support California’s efforts to bring environmental literacy to all K–12 students in the state.