Georgia develops first nationally accredited environmental education program

Contact: Kris Irwin, 706-542-7412, kirwin@uga.edu

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia recently helped a state program—the Advanced Training for Environmental Education in Georgia Certification Program—achieve national accreditation status, making ATEEG the first to attain this standing from the North American Association for Environmental Education.

ATEEG worked with the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, which continues to serve as the program’s required certifying agent.

Having ATEEG accredited means it will now receive national recognition, and Georgia can assist other states seeking accreditation for their programs, said Kris Irwin, a senior public service associate in the Warnell School.

As part of the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia, ATEEG supports educators who promote environmental literacy and stewardship and teach the skills necessary for citizens to make proper sustainable management decisions. These educators include teachers, university professors, college staff members and state employees.

The alliance began creating ATEEG in 2006, shaping curriculum content, assessment procedures and operating procedures. Organizers piloted the program 2009 with a test group to refine the curriculum and offered the first official ATEEG course in 2010.

Educators seeking certification from the program have three years to complete a training course that includes multiple classes, documentation of specialization and an independent study project. Graduates learn new content, instructional techniques and skill development.

The program now has 11 graduates; and, currently, more than 35 participants are in different phases of the training.

“Becoming certified in environmental education through ATEEG helps strengthen that educator’s ability to impart how important our natural world is,” Irwin said.

It also helps the field of environmental education be a little more uniform in its training processes. “An environmental educator might actually have a degree in education or social studies, while others might not have a degree at all,” he said. “Some might work for a zoo or museum, while others are teaching in front of a class of third graders.”

To learn more about ATEEG or to register, see www.eealliance.org/advanced-training-for-ee.