Environmental Service-Learning

Environmental Service-Learning

Service-learning and environmental education share many basic goals. At their best, both engage students in experiential learning that results in student-driven action to improve their communities. Studies* show that both service-learning and environmental education improve students' sense of achievement, increase their academic success (including standardized test scores), and help to develop their problem-solving and leadership skills.


General Service-Learning Resources 

  • Learn and Serve America supports and encourages service-learning throughout the United States, and enables over one million students to make meaningful contributions to their community while building their academic and civic skills. By engaging our nation’s young people in service-learning, Learn and Serve America instills an ethic of lifelong community service.
  • National Service-Learning Partnership is a national network of members dedicated to advancing service-learning as a core part of every young person's education. The Partnership concentrates on strengthening the impact of service-learning on young people's learning and development, especially their academic and civic preparation. It supports members sharing resources, organizing change, and sponsoring innovation.
  • National Youth Leadership Council seeks to create a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world with young people, their schools, and their communities through service-learning. For more than two decades, NYLC has led a movement linking youth, educators, and communities to redefine the roles of young people in society.
  • Youth Service America seeks to improve communities by increasing the number and diversity of young people, ages 5-25, serving in important roles. Founded in 1986, YSA is an international nonprofit resource center that partners with thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries to expand the impact of the youth service movement with families, communities, schools, corporations, and governments.

Environmental Service-Learning Resources

  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) encourages students to participate in outdoor field experiences, to initiate action projects, and to become student leaders in hometown communities. CBF provides resources to students and educators on service-learning, action projects, summer leadership trips, leadership certification, and more.
  • Earth Force engages young people as active citizens who improve the environment and their communities now and in the future. Earth Force has offices around the nation that tailor the programs to the unique needs of their community or region. The website offers tools for teachers, contact information for local offices, and information about the programs.
  • Facing the Future believes that teaching about global challenges and sustainability is an opportunity to motivate students about the future and their own education. By sharing inspiring examples and ideas for taking action, Facing the Future resources are designed to reaffirm young people's hope and belief in their ability to make a difference. All ofFacing the Future's K-12 lesson plans include action project ideas at the end of each lesson. They also provide an action project database, examples of students taking action, and other resources. NEW: Climate Change Action Projects from Facing the Future
  • Generation Earth is an environmental education program of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works presented by TreePeople. Generation Earth encourages and assists those who want to make a difference in their local environment through campus and community eco-projects. They provide development training and personalized support to secondary school teachers and students in Los Angeles County. Their online resources, including project ideas, resource lists, and helpful tips for teachers, are available to educators and students around the globe.
  • Give Forests a Hand follows the service-learning concepts of preparation, action, reflection, and recognition. It engages youth in identifying, planning, and implementing a project to benefit local trees and forests. Leader and youth guides are available in both English and Spanish. Give Forests a Hand was created by the University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation.
  • Give Water a Hand is a national watershed education program designed to involve young people in local environmental service projects. The Give Water a Hand Action Guide for students and Leader Guidebook for educators offer step-by-step instructions to take action to help improve the health of local waterways and the local ecosystem in turn.  The guides were designed for students aged 9-12, but adaptations for use with all age groups are provided.  This resource for schools, homeschools, scout groups, and after-school programs was produced by the University of Wisconin's Environmental Resources Center.  The action guide has also been produced in Spanish.
  • H2O for Life is committed to helping United States schools extend clean drinking water and sanitation to schools overseas. Through service-learning projects, U.S. schools raise 50% of the funds needed for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene education projects. Non-governmental organizations raise the other 50% and implement the projects in the developing world. In the process, American students become more knowledgeable and engaged in creating a better global community.
  • Holding on to the Green Zone: A Youth Program for the Study and Stewardship of Community Riparian Areas engages students in activities to explore and understand the role and importance of riparian zones. A Student Action Guide and a Leader Guide are available for download, and the program is correlated to national education standards. This program was developed by the Bureau of Land Management in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.
  • National Wildlife Federation Conservation Action Guides are filled with great ideas for youth service projects. Topics include Climate ChangeConnecting People to Nature, and Healthy Habitats.
  • Green Works! from Project Learning Tree is a guide for developing partnerships among educators, businesses, nonprofits, and other community organizations on an environmental action project. Green Works! supports teachers who want to involve their students in service-learning activities. The guide includes many resources, such as tips on how to develop and implement a successful project, project examples, classroom activities, and more.
  • Teens For Planet Earth, a project of the Wildlife Conservation Society, offers two great tools to help teens get an environmental service-learning project off the ground. The "Choosing a Conservation Project" guide allows students to find a project that fits their interests and the community's needs. Once a project has been chosen, students can move on to the "Building an Action Plan" guide that offers advice on how to design a successful project. The website also offers Service Awards to recognize students for outstanding service-learning projects that demonstrate a commitment to the environment. 
  • Watershed Action, from Hamline University's Center for Global Environmental Education, offers one-stop help in planning and organizing service-learning projects to prevent water pollution in your watershed. The site provides step-by-step guidelines for planning watershed projects, examples of successful projects, background information, water curricula, and more.