Sunday, July 23, 2017

Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development

An Extension Agent teaches children about lobsters. Credit: New Hampshire Sea GrantThe scientific, technical and communication skills needed to address the daunting environmental challenges confronting our nation are critical to developing a national workforce capacity.  The Congressional report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, states that building a workforce literate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is crucial to maintaining America’s competitiveness in a rapidly changing global economy.  These skills are also necessary to advance cutting-edge research and to promote enhanced resource management.  In recognition of these needs, the America COMPETES Act mandates that NOAA build on its historic role in stimulating excellence in the advancement of ocean and atmospheric science and engineering disciplines. The Act also mandates that NOAA provide opportunities and incentives for the pursuit of academic studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Workforce needs are reflected in the broader science and technology communities of both the private and public sectors with whom Sea Grant works to fulfill its mission.

Extension agent tags fish. Credit:Virginia Sea GrantAn environmentally literate person is someone who has a fundamental understanding of the systems of the natural world, the relationships and interactions between the living and non-living environment and the ability to understand and utilize scientific evidence to make informed decisions regarding environmental issues.  These issues involve uncertainty and require the consideration of economic, aesthetic, cultural and ethical values.



Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development Goals as defined by the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan

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GOAL 1: An environmentally literate public supported and informed by a continuum of lifelong formal and informal engagement opportunities.

Learning Outcomes

  • Formal and informal educators are knowledgeable of the best available science on the effectiveness of environmental science education.
  • Formal and informal educators understand environmental literacy principles.
  • Lifelong learners are able to engage in informal science education opportunities focused on coastal topics.

Action Outcomes

  • Engagement professionals use environmental literacy principles in their programs.
  • Engagement programs are developed and refined using the best available research on the effectiveness of environmental and science education.
  • Formal and informal education programs incorporate environmental literacy components.
  • Formal and informal education programs take advantage of the knowledge of Sea Grant-supported scientists and engagement professionals.
  • Formal and informal educators, students and/or the public collect and use coastal weather data in inquiry and evidence-based activities.
  • Lifelong learners make choices and decisions based on information they learned through informal science education opportunities.
  • Educators work cooperatively to leverage federal, state and local investments in coastal environmental education.

Consequence Outcomes

  • Members of the public incorporate broad understandings of their actions on the environment into personal decisions.

GOAL 2: A future workforce reflecting the diversity of Sea Grant programs, skilled in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and other disciplines critical to local, regional and national needs. 

Learning Outcomes

  • Students and teachers are aware of opportunities to participate in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and active stewardship programs.

Action Outcomes


  • A diverse and qualified pool of applicants pursues professional opportunities for career development in natural, physical and social sciences and engineering.
  • Graduate students are trained in research and engagement methodologies.  
  • Research projects support undergraduate and graduate training in fields related to understanding and managing our coastal resources.

Consequence Outcomes


  • A diverse workforce trained in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, law, policy or other job related fields is employed and have high job satisfaction.

Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development Performance Measures

- Number of Sea Grant products that are used to advance environmental literacy and workforce development.

- Number of people engaged in Sea Grant-supported informal education programs.

- Number of Sea Grant-supported graduates who become employed in a career related to their degree within two years of graduation.

Cross-Cutting Performance Measures

- Number of Sea Grant tools, technologies and information services that are used by our partners/customers to improve ecosystem-based management.

- Economic (market and non-market; jobs and businesses created or retained) impacts derived from Sea Grant activities.

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