A Study of the Process of Developing Competency-Based Environmental Education Certification Programs for Non-Formal Environmental Educators
McDonald, Julie A.
MetadataShow full item record
Certification is a method by which the field of Environmental Education (EE) can achieve legitimacy, a method of professional standardization and accountability, a greater understanding by the public and EE professionals, and hopefully, greater overall acceptance. Since the 2000 publication of Guidelines for the Initial Preparation of Environmental Educators, competency-based certification programs have gained more popularity among organizations looking to assess and train EE professionals. EE competency-based certification programs require participants to demonstrate competence in EE specific areas. Recent certification program developments in Utah, Kentucky, Georgia and Texas have paved the way for other EE competency-based programs across the country. This study examined the program evolution of two competency-based environmental education certification programs (located in Utah and Kentucky) between 2003 and 2004. Similarities and differences between the two 2004 state programs were also documented. The programs examined in this study were supported by the Utah Society for Environmental Education (USEE) and Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC). Interviews were conducted with seven certification officers from Utah and Kentucky and four USEE certification program participants. Certification officer interviews provided program information, opinions on program successes and challenges, and suggestions for improvement. USEE program participants provided demographic information, identified motivations for participating in the program, and offered their opinions of program strengths and weaknesses. The results of the study indicated that many factors impacted the evolution of the study states' programs between 2003 and 2004. Some of the important factors that played a role in program evolution include: additional development time, the influence of external organizations and cooperative meetings, and the emergence of new information. Recommendations for future certification states pertain to: development team formation, certification program development, use of "people" resources, use of prior EE events and cooperative results, pilot testing, and marketing.