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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Gov. Markell announces launch of Environmental Literacy Plan

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Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902 

Gov. Markell announces launch of Environmental Literacy Plan
ELP a key part of the Children in Nature Initiative 

DOVER (Oct. 5, 2015) – Governor Jack Markell announced today the completion of the Delaware Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP), a major component of his Children in Nature Initiative. The announcement coincides with the month of October, which he designated in 2010 as Children in Nature Month.

“By implementing experiential education and promoting environmental literacy, we can tap abundant opportunities to use the natural world in providing well-rounded experiences for every child,” said Gov. Markell. “We must support our communities and our schools in creating ways for children to connect with nature, such as by using outdoor classrooms and expanding nature-based activities as part of school lessons and extracurricular programs.” 

The ELP was created by the Environmental Literacy Committee of Delaware’s Children in Nature Coalition (CIN) and was signed by the secretaries of DNREC and the Delaware Department of Education (DOE). Other contributing partners include the Delaware Nature Society, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center for the Inland Bays, the Division of Public Health, Delaware Greenways, the Delaware Association for Environmental Education, the Delaware Forest Service, Delaware Sea Grant and numerous others for a total of 27 partners.

“The Children in Nature Coalition partners have created a comprehensive blueprint for getting Delaware’s children outside and learning about the First State’s unique environment,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “At school, at home, in parks and backyards, we want all children to have the opportunity grow up healthy and strong, enjoy remarkable outdoor experiences and learn about the importance of clean air, clean water and Delaware's native plants, fisheries and wildlife. DNREC, as steward of 100,000 acres of diverse habitat, offers wondrous, safe places to explore, discover and connect children and their families with each other and the environment.”

“The ELP is significant because it will give children in Delaware and their teachers a new tool designed to increase their understanding of nature and the environmental sciences, improve their engagement and achievement in the sciences and lead to exciting careers in the sciences and related fields in the 21st century,” said Tonyea Mead, science education associate with the Delaware Department of Education and co-chair of the Environmental Literacy Committee.

“We are so fortunate that children in Delaware live in a state where environmental literacy is valued,” said CIN partner and Environmental Literacy Committee co-chair Helen Fischel of the Delaware Nature Society. “With the implementation of this plan, children will have the aptitude to deal with complex environmental challenges of the future.” 

Implementation of the ELP is supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with matching funds provided by DNREC, DOE and Nemours Children’s Health System. It is designed to support educators, parents and community leaders in providing essential,l hands-on learning and outdoor experiences for children. These meaningful outdoor experiences are designed to improve their academic engagement and success, help prepare them for future careers, and help them address the complex environmental opportunities and challenges of the future.   

The ELP supports the Children in Nature Initiative’s mission to improve environmental literacy, create opportunities for children to participate in outdoor experiences, promote healthy lifestyles and provide better access to green space through schools and community programs. The NOAA B-Wet grant requires the creation of new schoolyard habitats, development of meaningful watershed educational experiences utilizing these habitats, scholarships for students and training for their teachers to integrate these experiences into everyday instruction and link them to Next Generation Science and Geography Standards.   

Educators throughout the state, including teachers and non-formal educators such as environmental educators, home-school teachers, families and communities, will be provided with the ELP. To learn more about the Children in Nature Initiative and programs, visit .To view the ELP, visit .

During Children in Nature Month, DNREC will host a variety of events:

Delaware State Parks: offers dozens of activities and events in state parks such as:

·         "Fall Family Float" at Trap Pond State Park on Saturday, Oct. 14, 1-3 p.m.

·         “Steamin’ Halloween” at the Auburn Heights Preserve on Sunday, Oct. 25

·         Halloween Harvest Weekends at Killens Pond on Friday and Saturdays, Oct. 16-17 and 23-24

·         The “Fantasy Trail” at Cape Henlopen State Park on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 23 - 24 from 6 - 8 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 25, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Back for its 27th year, children are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat for candy and toys with their favorite storybook characters along the park’s jack-o-lantern-lined trail. The cost is $5 per person for children and adults. For more information, call 302-645-6852. 

For more information on these and many other CIN activities and events in Delaware’s state parks, visit

The Division of Fish & Wildlife is committed to providing safe and responsible hunting opportunities for youth in Delaware. These include:

·         Youth Deer Hunt:  Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015

·         Youth Turkey Hunt:  Saturday, April 2, 2016

·         Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days: Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 and Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 

For more info on specific hunting days, visit 

·         Basic Hunter Education classes (for children 10 and older). Program is committed to putting safe, ethical and educated hunters in the field. Classes are full during October, but visit for more info. 

·         Kids and their families can also visit the DuPont Nature Center in Milford (re-opens April 1, 2016) or the Aquatic Resource Education Center in Smyrna, where they can experience science-based aquatic educational, interpretive and interactive programs aimed at connecting them to the Delaware Bay’s natural history and ecology. Visit for more info about DNC. For info on AREC, visit x

The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve offers environmental science workshops and field trips for students of all ages.

·         Blackbird Creek Fall Festival Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Blackbird Creek Preserve, 801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend.  More info:

·         Lantern Tour of John Dickinson Plantation, Friday, Oct. 23, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Registration required. Call John Dickinson Plantation at 302-739-3277.

·         National Make a Difference Day: Volunteer with the Reserve! Native Tree Planting! Saturday, Oct. 24, 9 a.m. – noon, at the Blackbird Creek Reserve, 801 Blackbird Landing Road, Townsend. To register, call the St. Jones Reserve at 302-739-6377.

More info: visit

Division of Watershed Stewardship is awash with CIN events and activities including:

·         Recycled Cardboard Boat Regatta – A fun way to connect children and families to the Nanticoke River Teams race boats made of recycled cardboard through a course at the Blades Marina off the Nanticoke River each August. More info: 

·         Nanticoke Wade In – Part of the “Reclaim Our River” program. Participants of all ages wade into the Nanticoke River or nearby waterway to use the “sneaker index” to view water clarity. More info: 

Other activities and events being offered by CIN contributing partners:

The Delaware Nature Society:

·         "Canoe the Christina,” Saturday, Oct. 17 at DuPont Environmental Education Center, 1400 Delmarva Lane, Wilmington.

·         “Natural Halloween - Weird and Wonderful Animals" on Friday, Oct. 30, at Abbotts Mill Nature Center, Abbotts Pond Road, Milford.  

More info:  

The Delaware Museum of Natural History is busy all month at their Wilmington location: 4840 Kennett Pike in Wilmington. Special CIN events include:

·         Columbus Day Daycamp on Monday, Oct. 12

·         "What You Didn't Know About the Museum" tour on Saturday, Oct.17 

More info:

 A selected list of October child, youth and family friendly programs by these and other CIN partners is available at .  Links to partner websites provide details to these and other available events. 

Vol. 45, No. 334

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