Environmental Literacy Steering Committee

We partner with the California Department of Education and key stakeholders to implement A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy: Educating Every California Student In, About, and For the Environment. 

California has the opportunity for every student to obtain the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to make informed decisions about the environmental issues facing our world.

Creating the Blueprint for Environmental Literacy

In 2014, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson appointed an Environmental Literacy Task Force to develop A Blueprint for Environmental Literacy. The Blueprint is a call to action for all administrators, teachers, and program providers serving K–12 students—both in school and beyond, indoors and outdoors—to infuse environment- and standards-based learning opportunities into their instruction. With California’s new, innovative, and cross-curricular academic standards, there is a remarkable window of opportunity to ensure that every student develops the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to make sound informed decisions about environmental issues facing their communities and society.


Advancing the Blueprint and Bringing Environmental Literacy to California’s K–12 Students

In 2016, Superintendent Torlakson appointed an Environmental Literacy Steering Committee, composed of six Work Teams, to create and lead an implementation plan for the Blueprint. Comprised of 30 prominent educational leaders and nonprofit stakeholders, the Steering Committee includes representatives from the California Department of Education and CalRecycle, three directors of the University of California’s Subject Matter Projects, and a member of the State Board of Education.

The Steering Committee is now working to implement recommendations from the Blueprint to support school districts, teachers, and local program providers with the ultimate goal of achieving environmental literacy for all of California’s 6.2 million K–12 students. Ten Strands serves as project director for the Steering Committee, actively fundraising and providing project management and support as members begin implementation of the Blueprint’s most leveraged, timely, and scalable opportunities.

The ELSC is committed to equity, inclusion, and cultural relevance.


The Steering Committee’s approach involves:

  • Identifying ways to enhance the cultural relevance of environmental literacy while ensuring equity and inclusion in program initiatives
  • Ensuring the State’s Environmental Principles and Concepts are fully represented in new instructional materials, professional learning programs, and assessments
  • Scaling the California Regional Environmental Education Community Network to forge meaningful connections between program providers, community-based organizations, schools, and school districts
  • Working with select districts around the state to model how to identify strategies and resources to weave environmental literacy work into standards-based coursework linked to Local Control Accountability Plans and other local funding sources
  • Communicating success stories and best practices to establish support for environmental literacy as a driver for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, career technical education, and the Governor’s climate action goals
  • Continuing to raise private money and secure public money to drive implementation priorities


Current Members

Will Parish (Co-chair), Craig Strang (Co-chair), Karen Cowe (Project Director), Tom Adams, Bill Andrews, Carl Anthony, Tim Baird, Shelley Brooks, Anne Campbell, Ken DaRosa, Candice Dickens-Russell, Jeff Davis, Bryan Ehlers, Jose Flores, Bruce Holaday, Tony Knight, Jerry Lieberman, Kim Moore Bailey, Seaberry Nachbar, Leslie Parra, M. Paloma Pavel, Jennifer Rigby, Celeste Royer, Emily Schell, Maria Simani, Jason Spencer, Jane Steinkamp, Darrell Steely, Leslie Tamminen, Lesley Taylor, and Eric Zilbert

View the full Blueprint:

If you are interested in receiving quarterly updates about the work that the Steering Committee is engaged in please sign up for the Steering Committee Newsletter.

A compilation of environmental literacy resources, can be viewed here.

Our Partners in this Work:



California Department of Education

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Lawrence Hall of Science

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