The Environmental Education Program builds awareness, increases knowledge, refines attitudes and changes the behavior of Ohio citizens so they understand the impact we have on our natural resources and develop the skills and motivation needed to prevent pollution and degradation of those resources. The program is designed to strengthen the education programs provided by county Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) through professional development initiatives, grant programs, educational models and partnerships. Statewide coordination of these efforts is accomplished through DSWR leadership of the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ Envirothon Committee and Education and Communications Committee, Source Water Environmental Education Teams (SWEETs), and the Ohio Water Education Program, as well as Division of Soil and Water Resources (DSWR) participation on the Ohio Interagency Council for Environmental Education (OICEE); and the Environmental Education Council of Ohio (EECO). Statewide and regional environmental education conferences are provided upon request, and input is provided for appropriate resources, lessons, activities and field programs to help teach specific concepts using educationally sound methods.
Environmental, Economic and Public Importance
Our existence depends on healthy soil and clean water – therefore it is vital that all citizens understand their role in managing and protecting the resources needed for the production of our food, fiber, and fuel.
Conservation education efforts have grown significantly over the past 20 years with the initiation of personnel grants to hire education specialists in SWCDs. Since the early 1990s, over half of the SWCDs in Ohio added education specialists to their staff. Aided by division training programs, they greatly increased their educational outreach to schools, civic groups, local municipalities, camps, and other organizations. Classroom education programs, aligned to Ohio’s academic content standards, help students better prepare to make wise natural resource management decisions.
In collaboration with Ohio EPA, the DSWR's Environmental Education Program received funding from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund to provide education models for use by Source Water Environmental Education Teams (SWEETs) to educate the general public on source water protection. In the last five years, more than 25 regional workshops were held for the 54 participating teams, which include many new water resource partners. To date, over 600 source water education events have been held reaching 64,000 Ohioans.
Since 1995, the Ohio Water Education Program has conducted more than 600 Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) training workshops, providing the Project WET Curriculum and Activity Guide to more than 10,000 classroom and non-formal educators through a volunteer network of facilitators.