Status and Needs of Environmental Education Organizations in Wisconsin

Results of the 2019 statewide survey

In 2019, Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center administered a survey to over 700 environmental education organizations around the state. By the end of the survey period, 193 people responded allowing us to gain valuable insight into the field’s progress and direction since the survey’s first iteration in 2015. We are excited to share those results with you.

This effort was supported by UW Division of Extension, WAEE, and the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education.

Key finding of the survey include:

  • Environmental education employs over 3,000 people in the state
  • Environmental education generates between $40 million and $72 million in direct economic activity annually, and
  • Respondents collectively manage 165,466 acres of land.

If anything, this report demonstrated to us the collective impact and power this industry has to create change.

Download Full Report

Results of the 2016 statewide survey

WAEE Members Review the Results of the Survey (2016)

WAEE Members Review the Results of the Survey (2016)

In the winter of 2015-16 a digital survey was distributed to environmental education organization leaders across the state of Wisconsin. The goal of this survey was to investigate the current status of environmental education (EE) throughout Wisconsin and to help identify the different needs of these organizations in various focus areas. The information that was collected is being used to facilitate communication, collaboration, professional development, and outreach services, and to increase the quality and quantity of EE in Wisconsin.

A select summary of significant survey results are illustrated in the two-page .pdf below, or you can download the full report (48 pages).

This survey was supported in part by a Capacity Building grant from the North American Association for Environmental Education and was a collaborative project from University of Wisconsin-Extension, Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education & the 2015 Wisconsin Environmental Education Consortium

2014 Survey Final Report _Jan2015.pdf Download the Summary

 Download Full Report

Below are the top professional development needs as defined by the state-wide survey:

Top 7 Needs – Organization Skills Areas

    1. Accessibility and Inclusion of People with Disabilities (67%)
    2. Grant Writing (53.2%)
    3. Fundraising (51.1%)
    4. Digital Presence/Website/Facebook/Twitter/etc (46.8%)
    5. Volunteer Management (46.8%)
    6. Exhibit Development (43.6%)
    7. Public Relations/Marketing (41.5%)

Top 7 Needs – Environmental Education Subject Areas

    1. Technology Use in Outdoor Education (67.3%)
    2. Using STEM as a Context for EE (or E-STEM) (61.4%)
    3. Community-based Learning (49.5%)
    4. Understanding School Initiatives, Speaking School Language (45.5%)
    5. Birds (42.6%)
    6. Plants (41.6%)
    7. Community Action/Service-Learning (41.6%)

Results of the 2014 statewide survey

Abstract  160 Wisconsin environmental education (EE) related organizations responded to the 2014 status and needs online survey. The survey and report of findings includes general information about the organizations, trends in participation, land management, use of technology, program evaluation, and professional development needs and offerings. EE related organizations in Wisconsin serve an average number of 10,251 program participants. These organizations have extensive reach and impact across the state. Findings illustrate how and why some organizations have been more successful than others. EE related organizations have identified needs in the areas of technical and on-the-ground assistance with land management, use of technology to enhance environmental and outdoor education, and professional development in many organizational management skills and EE subject areas. Assistance is also needed in program evaluation along with coordination or use of standardized evaluation methods across organizations. Findings and recommendations included in this report can be used to increase the operational capacities and impact of EE related organizations in Wisconsin.

2014 Survey Final Report _Jan2015.pdf Download the Document

Below are the top 10 professional development needs as defined by the state-wide survey:

Top 10 Needs – Organization Skills

  1. Use of Technology to Enhance Environmental Education
  2. Grant Writing
  3. Accessibility & Inclusion of People with Disabilities
  4. Fundraising
  5. Public Relations/Marketing
  6. Exhibit Development
  7. Digital presence/Website/Facebook/Twitter/etc.
  8. Volunteer Management
  9. Budgeting/Finances
  10. Non-profit Management/Working with Executive Boards

Top 10 Needs – Environmental Education Content Areas

  1. Current Environmental Issues
  2. Sustainable Design/Green Technologies or Buildings
  3. Community Action/Service Learning
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Land Use/Conservation
  6. Sustainability/Resource Consumption
  7. Drinking Water/Waste Water
  8. Gardening/Agriculture/Soils
  9. Birds
  10. Water Quality/Aquatic Ecology/Fish or Plants (These two options ranked the same)