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UHCL's Environmental Institute to Plant WaterSmart School Habitat Demonstration Lab for National EE Week

April 2006

Clear Lake, Texas–Students, staff & corporate partners around University of Houston-Clear Lake will participate in the single largest organized environmental education event in U.S. history, April 14 & 15 from 8:30-noon, when they help plant our WaterSmart School Habitat Demonstration Lab, which is being constructed in front of the North Office Annex (NOA) building at UHCL.

The local event is part of National Environmental Education Week, now in its second year of fostering a new generation of nature-lovers during a week-long lead-up to Earth Day. The event, sponsored by Canon U.S.A., Inc., and the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) is expected to involve over 100,000 teachers and nature educators and over 3 million students, at 50,000 schools and 400 universities as well as zoos, aquariums and nature centers.

"The public is saying more than ever that they want environmental education to be part of Americans' upbringing, and this month there will be a phenomenal number of opportunities for people across the country to learn more about nature and get involved themselves," says Diane Wood, NEETF president.

"Environmental education has so many benefits," Wood added, "that it's unfortunate that it's increasingly under funded, and squeezed from so many classrooms. There hasn't been a time since the original Earth Day in 1970 when we needed the added 'push' of National Environmental Education Week so much for our school children."

A Roper poll found that 95 percent of Americans support environmental education in school because of clear benefits seen for their children and neighborhoods. Academic studies have found that using nature as a classroom can improve test scores and self-esteem. It fosters a sense of community and responsibility, and lessons about systems thinking and the value of cooperation that stay with students a lifetime. For details, see

In honor of National Environmental Education Week, EIH at UHCL is offering the following nature activities:

Bring your favorite garden tool and gloves – what better way to celebrate Earth Day than by helping plant our demonstration lab. For more information about the local events and sponsors, see

Canon U.S.A., Inc., has made National Environmental Education Week possible with a major donation and for the second year is sponsoring a photo contest for participants. For instructions on how to enter, see For last year's winners, see

National organizers said they're doing their part to overcome what author Richard Louv called American children's "nature deficit disorder," in his best-selling book, Last Child in the Woods(newly out in paperback from Algonquin Books, in March 2006).

Unlike children's technological fascinations, Louv writes, "Nature does not steal time; it amplifies it." Getting acquainted with nature inspires creativity, offers healing for children living in destructive families and neighborhoods, and connects each child "with an older, larger world," Louv says. And nature needs its children: Where else will its future stewards come from?

Louv is joining hundreds of local and national partners in endorsing this year's National EE Week activities to promote students' health, their interest in school, and their environmental literacy.