An Early Start for a Brighter Future

Taking Action

Connecting today’s youth to nature is fundamental to protecting our environment, and benefits both people and wildlife. Research shows that children who have regular positive experiences in nature develop deeper, lifelong affection for the natural world and have more empathy for wildlife.

Offering a variety of programs, the National Wildlife Federation’s Education and Engagement team provides all people with equitable access to nature, scientifically-based environmental education, and the history and principles of environmental justice.

Through our commitment to engaging people from ‘cradle to gray,’ the Education and Engagement team has directly trained and educated thousands of people across the nation and internationally for more than fifty years.

crystal jennings Senior Manager, Youth Leadership Program, Education
& jennifer brown Manager, Digital Content, Education

Our team cultivates and supports leaders to take action across the nation, working daily alongside students, parents, teachers, faith leaders, scientists, and a wide range of community members transforming education to action and building the next generation of conservation and environmental stewards.

Our large network of youth leaders and community leaders have successfully implemented our environmental education programs and transformed their schools, cities, backyards, places of worship, and green spaces, keeping communities healthy and wildlife thriving.

230million plastic
containers diverted
from landfills
Students at Washington University at St. Louis participate in Campus Race to Zero Waste
Campus Race to Zero Waste social media graphic showing a turtle with plastic stuck to it
WildSTEM Partnership with The Links, Incorporated

Change starts with passionate, informed, and engaged young people. This year, our partners at the Links, Incorporated collaborated with five chapters across the United States and Caribbean to implement STEM-based garden and wildlife education projects with K-12 and college students. Links chapters hosted virtual workshops about pollinators, distributed at-home gardening kits, certified churches, schools, and other areas as wildlife habitats, partnered with the Patuxent Research Refuge, the National Aquarium, hosted career workshops with environmental professionals and scientists, and educated youth about environmental justice. Empowering young students, especially those of color, to have opportunities to learn about wildlife, gardening, and conservation is essential toward transforming communities to better support people and wildlife.

Member from The Link gardening/digging a hole
Earth Tomorrow 20th Anniversary

Earth Tomorrow, the National Wildlife Federation’s environmental justice and youth leadership program primarily for Black and youth of color, celebrated its 20-year anniversary. The program helps foster a new generation of environmental stewards through a year-long cycle of civic engagement, community action projects, career development and outdoor exploration. Founded in Atlanta in 2001, the program has worked with more than 5,000 youth on environmental service-learning and communication action projects that benefit frontline communities addressing environmental justice challenges. Students have also volunteered time to work on projects in Georgia state parks, National Park Service properties, USDA Forest Service lands, and urban forests and nature centers. 

Two girls getting prepared to go kayaking
Campus Race to Zero Waste 2021 Final Results: Colleges and Universities Keep 230 Million Plastic Containers Out of the Landfill

During the 2021 Campus Race to Zero Waste competition, 200 campuses from 43 states, reaching 2.9 million students and staff, diverted more than 25.8 million pounds of waste from the landfill through waste minimization efforts, donations, composting, and recycling, and kept more than 230 million plastic containers out of the landfill. In eight weeks, participants prevented the release of 30,669 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere, which is equal to avoiding the annual emissions from 6,463 cars.

Group from Campus Race to Zero Waste competition celebrating the results
Children Thrive Outside

The National Wildlife Federation’s Early Childhood Health Outdoors (ECHO) team expanded nationally in 2021 to work closely with communities in Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nebraska, as well as convening a national dialogue on the importance of outdoor quality in America’s overburdened childcare system. These efforts led to greater emphasis of outdoor spaces in America’s Head Start system and paved the way to build a new generation of healthy, engaged conservation stewards.

Group of people putting soil in plant pots
Sacred Ground

The National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds program recognizes congregations, houses of worship, and faith communities that both create wildlife habitat through native plant gardens and actively link faith practices and environmental stewardship. When people come together across differences to confront the challenges of a changing world, both wildlife and people will thrive. Building authentic partnerships with local partners supports houses of worship and their communities with project planning and technical expertise to increase native plant gardens, and prioritize their goals, visions, and experiences throughout the process. The Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions have been particularly active in Sacred Grounds in 2021. Dozens more houses of worship have already committed to participating in the program in 2022.

Someone working in front of a beautiful church in a garden