The main driver of this project was to gain an enhanced understanding of the environmental education providers in the southeast who are working towards the same or similar goals. Through the design and implementation of an environmental education program provider survey tool, we engaged in a robust mapping process to gather and share the insights and offerings of 646 organizations across the southeast.
The survey was designed not only to determine who the players were but also to provide a baseline dataset of the current assets and barriers in our field so that we would be equipped to take a more holistic approach to advancing environmental literacy efforts in the region.
At the onset of the project, the leadership team spent a considerable amount of time gathering information and insights from other groups who have completed similar analyses, determining what kind of information various partners would like to see in our analysis, and discussing potential partnerships. It was these conversations that led us to a collaboration with EcoRise and the University of Texas. We engaged in an intensive process to merge our surveys and create baseline questions that can serve as a standard for our states as well as a nationwide effort. There are numerous other states that have expressed an interest in adopting this survey tool, which would allow us to compare data beyond the southern US to get a national perspective on the field.
SEEA launched the regional survey tool in March 2021 across the eight southeast states. Once the data-collection period closed, our team spent several weeks cleaning up the data; this included removing duplicate entries, searching for errors in data reporting, standardizing organizational names, and cross checking information for accuracy. After this concerted outreach effort that included numerous follow-up emails and personal phone calls, we completed this step with a solid dataset of 646 organizations (to date) submitting from: Business/LLC (7%); Local, City, State or Federal Government (35%); Higher Education Institutions (12%); and Nonprofit (44%).
WHAT WE DID WITH THE DATA
After completing the data collection and cleanup phases, SEEA contracted EcoRise and the University of Texas to complete the data visualization and aggregation for the project. This included the development of a regional Climate, Education, and Equity map and a public-facing dashboard to provide quick, visually appealing data interpretation that can be filtered by any number of factors, such as state, sector, audiences served, etc. The regional EE landscape map is a public-facing searchable ArcGIS map that can be used to explore EE providers, public and private schools, and overlay that information with a number of climate and demographic indicators that will help users gather a more accurate understanding of the intersection between environmental education, climate, and social justice issues in the southeast.
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