An interview with the Educated Choices Program and Earth Warriors
Earlier this year, the Educated Choices Program announced a partnership with Earth Warriors, the world's first organization to provide a climate education curriculum for 3-11-year-olds using a positive and empowering approach. Partnering with this India-based nonprofit promotes access to climate change curriculum for young children and highlights the impact and importance of continuing education as they grow to ensure the development of environmentally-conscious habits and choices.
Meet the Leaders
Co-Founder and Sustainability &
Education Policy Expert
CEO and Founder
Educated Choices Program
What role did the changing climate play in founding your non-profit?
Climate change was the primary reason why we started Earth Warriors. We know that children are demanding climate education and need to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. There was a gap in the market for comprehensive climate education and teacher training on climate change for children in their early and primary years which we are addressing.
Food choices are intrinsically linked to our carbon footprint, so we knew climate change had to be one of our primary focus points. Since the public generally needs to gain more knowledge about the impact of their food choices, our organization is trying to fill the niche in this area of food literacy.
What is your organization’s mission, and how are you achieving it through your services?
Our mission is to empower 2 billion children to take climate action through age-appropriate climate education. Recent research from the Brookings Institute highlighted that if just 16% of children in middle and high-income countries receive climate education, it can reduce future carbon emissions by 19 gigatons by 2050. To achieve our mission, we are providing schools with a plug-n-play climate & sustainability education curriculum for 3-11 years olds to teach them about biodiversity, climate change, waste management, and climate action. We are also providing teachers with training to help them deliver climate education more effectively to their students.
Our mission is to provide science-based education about the impact of food choices, empowering current and future consumers and leaders to help create a healthier, more sustainable food system for all. We are educating hundreds of thousands of students every year around the world, half of whom are already making changes to their diet due to their newfound knowledge. In addition, our Living Lab conducts research by collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data from viewers and control groups regarding motivators for and perceived barriers to making sustainable dietary changes. It is a vital tool to ensure our educational packages have maximum impact.
Why do you choose to focus on children rather than adults who manage the household budget?
Children are going to be the most impacted by climate change. Research shows that they are already facing more extreme weather events than their grandparents and it is clear that the world they will face as adults will look different from the world today due to climate change. So they need to be prepared to face the future ahead with both knowledge and solutions to tackle climate challenges. In addition while changing adult behaviour is hard, children are at a stage where they are actually developing lifelong habits which makes it critical to focus on them. In addition children have an amazing ability to also nudge their parents towards more sustainable behaviour. This is something we have seen numerous examples of through the implementation of Earth Warriors.
Our goal is to ensure the information we share is implemented. This is why it is imperative that those we educate can make food choices, even in a limited capacity, as is the case for middle and high school students. Students (secondary and college) are by far our biggest audience, but we also offer food education to adults whose communities subsequently benefit from this information. Children and teenagers are the future leaders and consumers that hold power to ensure that our future food system is more sustainable. Moreover, since research shows that children and teens share what they learned with about 15 other peers, the ripple effect is unquantifiable but extensive.
How does equity affect access to climate education, and how does your organization work to meet these needs?
Equity affects access to climate education because those children who will be most affected by climate change come from poorer socio-economic backgrounds and don’t necessarily have access to the best education. A lot of government and low-fee private schools do not have access to high quality resources or trained and motivated teachers. At Earth Warriors we work with philanthropic foundations and corporates to sponsor such schools so they can access our curriculum and teacher training. We are working to ensure climate justice by giving all children access to a high quality climate education.
Our educational packages are free, accessible 24/7 from anywhere with internet access (a home, a library, a school, etc.) The materials we provide consider food deserts and underprivileged communities, so we offer options within reach of everyone. We empower viewers with information about foods and their nutritional value, such as frozen or canned foods, and where to find low-cost foods (community markets, food banks, and community gardens). In addition, we offer presentations that deal with food justice and equity, such us our “Growing Community Roots” presentation.
How do you support teachers in educating their students about climate change?
The majority of teachers report that while teaching about climate change is important they don’t feel confident teaching it. In addition we know teachers are rather overburdened. To support teachers we do 2 things. First provide them with teacher training on climate change, including pedagogical approaches and technical content. Second we have created a plug-n-play curriculum which has ready to use lesson plans that require minimum prep time from teachers. Thus not adding to their already long to-do lists. So after at Earth Warriors we have trained over a 1000 teachers across 6 countries.
Our educational packages offer engaging, science-based digital video presentations and accompanying materials (quizzes, discussion prompts, activities, next-steps tool kit, etc.) that support state standards. Teachers can be confident that our offerings will enhance their teaching efforts with the most up-to-date information about climate change. Very importantly, our educational packages not only offer information but also solutions, which are a crucial part of teaching.
How does the future look for your company?
We are really excited to grow Earth Warriors across different countries over the next few years. We started 2.5 years ago and are already in 6 countries. We have some exciting projects in India, Zambia and Botswana that we are looking to expand in the coming year. We will also continue to add to and update our curriculum and teacher training offerings to keep up-to-date in this rapidly developing field.
We are expanding rapidly! Our educational packages have been utilized in 29 countries to date, and we are reaching classrooms in new regions of the US and beyond every semester. Faculty and community members are learning about our free offerings, and they are not only using them but sharing them far and wide.
We plan to continue adding more educational packages, guides, and support
materials to meet the needs of the public at large. We want to get this information to as
many people as possible in ways that they can relate to it.
For parents and teachers, what is the most important thing to remember when talking to children about climate change?
The most important thing to remember that it’s not all gloom and doom. When talking about climate change, it's important to emphasize that there is hope. This solutions-focused lens is critical in conversations. In addition, it's necessary as adults to practice what we preach in front of kids. Children should not feel that adults are taking no responsibility and all the burden is on them.
It’s essential to share the facts respectfully, compassionately, and nonjudgmentally, and in age-appropriate terms. Children need to feel that, although climate change is a serious threat to humanity, the solutions and the goodwill of many people can prevail. They also need to know that information is power and that an educated society can handle any challenge.
What can we do as individuals to support access to environmental education through organizations like yours?
Spread the word on the importance on environmental education. If you’re a parent/guardian lobby your children's school to start including environmental education comprehensively in schools. Spread the word at your workplace on the need to donate to such initiatives so all children, not just a few, get access to environmental education.
Share, share, share! We need to get this information to as many people as possible as fast as possible. Climate change is our most urgent environmental problem, and there is no time to waste.
Environmental education must be accessible to everyone. Organizations like ours, Earth Warriors, and many more recognize that collaboration is paramount to achieving this. When organizations and people unite around a common goal, the chances of success exponentially increase.
About Earth Warriors
Earth Warriors is the world's first organization to provide a climate education curriculum for 3-11-year-olds using a positive and empowering approach. At Earth Warriors, we believe that every child deserves access to quality climate education so they feel empowered to confront the global climate crisis. Earth Warriors provides teachers with a comprehensive curriculum with ready-made, easy-to-use learning resources, removing multiple burdens from teachers in how to plan, embed and connect climate education for children. Our school curriculum has been reviewed by experts from Harvard and Stanford universities and is aligned with US and UK national learning standards. Learn more at www.earthwarriorsglobal.org.