Environmental Literacy

Goals: To advance environmental literacy within schools, our goals are to provide students with


Don’t see what you need listed below? Please contact Amity Sandage at to discuss your needs.  Professional learning is offered at no cost to county schools and districts.


These offerings span multiple sessions, months and years to help support implementation and sustain growth.

Teacher Leadership Institute for Sustainability


"This program gave me what I have been looking for in the field of sustainability, a way to give students hope and empower them to make change."  --high school teacher participant

"My highlight was definitely seeing the engagement and focus of my students significantly increase."  --middle school teacher participant

"I feel inspired! This has helped me feel more resolved to focus on change-making and action in classroom projects, as well as make more connections between the classroom and greater community."  --elementary teacher participant

The TLIS is a "knowledge to action" program that builds TK-12 teacher capacity for integrating environmental sustainability within your classroom curriculum and engaging students in action projects at school or in their communities. All content areas are welcome.


AUDIENCE:  TK-12 Teachers interested in connecting instruction in a content area of their choice to real-world issues and action

Kick-off Part 1:  Saturday October 1, 2023  |  9:00am - 2:00pm in person at Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Kick-off Part 2: Saturday October 14, 2023  |  9:00am - 2:00pm in person at Santa Cruz County Office of Education

Three Virtual Follow-up Afterschool Sessions:  Tuesdays Oct 17, 2023  |  Nov 7, 2023  |  Dec 5, 2023    3:45pm - 5:15pm  on Zoom

Collaboration Team Time:  Saturday, Jan 20, 2024  |  9:00am - 12:00pm in person at Santa Cruz COE

Final "Sharecase,"  Recognition Awards & Celebration:  April 20, 2023  |  9:00am - 2:00pm in person at Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Green Classroom Network 

Join  a vibrant community of classroom teachers and community-based educators for inspiration and support of integrating environmental education and sustainability projects in schools. The network includes past and current Teacher Leadership Institute participants and welcomes other TK-12 teachers who want to cultivate a shared vision of "every classroom a green classroom."  See flyer with details and sign up to receive invitations here.

Green District Network - Sustainability & Environmental Education Network for Districts

Welcome to the Green District Network, where seeds of collaboration are sown. Here, resources and success stories are exchanged to nurture the growth of sustainable practices across districts. We will gather for job alike and district team collaboration with community partners to support the vital role schools play in creating a greener, brighter future. Please see our flyer and submit this interest form to receive more information.


The sessions listed below can be done as a one-hour session that is more content-focused or as a two-hour workshop that is intended to give participants time to build materials and practices to help with the implementation of the content.

"Every Classroom a Green Classroom" Recognition Program

Empower students with our innovative Green Classroom Program! This session introduces our program designed to support educators to cultivate environmentally responsible actions in the classroom, making sustainable behaviors a seamless part of students' everyday lives. Through collaborative efforts, teachers and students will work together to choose from a diverse array of sustainable actions, transforming their classrooms into eco-friendly hubs. Program details here.

Leveraging Outdoor Learning for Student Engagement and Wellness

Unlock the potential of your campus with our engaging workshop designed for school site or district instructional teams! Discover the power of student-centered outdoor learning experiences, fostering student wellness while deepening student engagement in any content area. Learn essential materials and routines for successful outdoor teaching. Ideal for TK-12 teachers and Expanded Learning Staff. 

Nature Journaling for Science, Nature Connection and Wellness

Available for school site or district instructional teams, 90 minute to 3 hour sessions are available by request. This session uses the BEETLES Professional Learning module for a hands-on introduction to nature journaling techniques that emphasize social-emotional wellness and focus on science through developing questions, recognizing crosscutting concepts, and capturing student thinking using words, pictures and numbers. Audience: K-12 Classroom Teachers and Expanded Learning Staff

Seal of Civic Engagement Environmental Literacy Toolkit

Introducing the State Seal of Civic Engagement Environmental Literacy Implementation Guide, designed to support districts, schools, and teachers in using the lens of environmental literacy in implementing California’s State Seal of Civic Engagement! The guide includes sample student actions and resources for educators to use to support students in their efforts towards the Seal.

Teacher Toolkit for Environmental Literacy

Explore this innovative toolkit developed for educators by educators though this introductory session! Delve into three compelling parts: The Imperatives for Environmental Literacy, Voices from the Field, and Roadmap for Instruction. Engaging discussion and reflection questions in each section will guide your journey towards enhanced Environmental Literacy integration, whether individually or alongside your colleagues. 

District Toolkit for Environmental Literacy

This session for administrators and district leaders introduces the "Educating Every California Student In, About, and For the Environment" toolkit! Discover how environmental literacy aligns with district and state goals, supporting Local Control Accountability Plans and the California Multi-Tiered System of Support. Embrace a holistic approach, encompassing standards implementation, student engagement, social-emotional learning, and more, to empower county, district, and educational leaders towards a brighter future. 


These workshops go in-depth into topics over the course of a whole day, with the goal of having participants walk out with everything they need to deepen their practice.

Project Learning Tree & Project WET (Water Education for Teachers)

This action-packed one-day workshop combines two award-winning programs: Project Learning Tree (PLT) and Project WET (Water Education for Teachers). Dive into the world of environmental education with PLT's Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide, featuring 50 hands-on, multidisciplinary activities connecting students to nature and fostering critical thinking. Get equipped with Project WET's latest interdisciplinary water education activity guide, covering K-12 topics correlated to Common Core and NGSS standards. Empower K-8 Classroom Teachers and Expanded Learning Staff with resources for increasing student engagement, including field trip funding opportunities. 

Take Learning Outside!

Schedule our one-day workshop for K-8 Classroom Teachers and Expanded Learning teams, where outdoor learning connects students to nature, inspires meaningful core content engagement, and includes Project Learning Tree (PLT) certification. Receive the "Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide," offering 50 hands-on activities, academic correlations and green career connections, and fostering critical thinking skills. Connect with redwood forest field trip funding and curriculum supported by Save The Redwoods Foundation. Ideal for educators seeking to create a lasting impact on their students' lives. 


Discover resources that drive environmental literacy within schools and support increasing access to student opportunities for connection with nature, environmental knowledge and skills development, empowerment to tackle environmental challenges, and readiness for future careers. For more resources, visit our website environmentalliteracy.santacruzcoe.org

California Environmental Literacy initiative (CAELI) Webinars

Explore CAELI's collection of webinars ranging from spotlights on green districts and leadership, to social emotional learning in nature, to climate action pathways for schools and more. Go to https://ca-eli.org/webinar/ 

CAELI Partner Portal

The CAELI Partner Portal serves as a central directory of community-based organizations who offer environmental education programs (in-classroom, field trip, overnight, etc.) to schools throughout the state. Find Santa Cruz County Partners at our local microsite: https://partnerportal.ca-eli.org/site/santa-cruz-county-office-of-education/browse/community-based-partners 

Redwoods Transportation Grant and Save the Redwoods League Curriculum

Embark on an inspiring opportunity with Save the Redwoods League and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education! Secure transportation funding for your students to experience the majestic redwoods firsthand. With a field trip planning guide and redwood curriculum resources, we'll help make your trip a resounding success. Apply now as funds are distributed on a rolling basis until the transportation fund is spent. Don't miss this chance to connect your students with nature and create unforgettable memories! See details here.

NOAA Ocean Guardian Schools

The Ocean Guardian School program funds multi-year projects focused on a current issue(s) affecting local watersheds and/or the ocean while promoting best environmental practices. Through a school- or community-based project, schools work to make a difference in the health and protection of their local watersheds, ocean and/or special ocean areas like national marine sanctuaries. Grant applications open each Spring. See details here.

National Outdoor Learning Library

The National Outdoor Learning Initiative is a free online resource library, designed to help schools and school districts across the United States green their school grounds and move their classes and programs outside. Developing outdoor spaces makes our school systems more resilient and better able to pivot quickly when challenges, such as the pandemic, arise. Access to nature on school grounds reduces stress, improves mental and physical health, and helps students engage with their academic work across the curriculum and grade levels. Explore the library here.

CA History Social Science Project (CHSSP) Environmental Literacy Resources

The CHSSP has a number of materials to support the integration of California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts into your classroom. These resources that reflect our understanding of the importance of using an environmental lens to investigate the past and to build an environmentally-sustainable and just future. Explore resources here.

Sustainable and Climate Ready Schools State Policies and Mandates

Environmental literacy is a critical outcome and expectation for California’s K–12 students, and environmental sustainability and climate resiliency have been infused into local jurisdiction mandates for facilities and operations. The purpose of this document is to provide a high level overview of some of the mandates, policies, and expectations for environmental literacy and sustainability that are most relevant to California schools. Learn more here.