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Release Date: 12/6/94
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New Survey Underscores Students' Concern About the Environment, the Importance of Environmental Education

Fifty percent of all American schoolchildren say that harm to th= e=20
environment is a problem they want to help make better, ranking it se= cond only=20
to the AIDS epidemic as a priority for action, according to two new n= ational=20
surveys released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency an= d the=20
National Environmental Education and Training Foundation (NEETF).

Officials from EPA and NEETF said that the surveys underscored t= he=20
importance of school-based environmental education, and would assist = them in=20
shaping environmental education materials and programs to better meet= children's=20
needs. Particular priorities for environmental education include dis= advantaged=20
students and students in higher grades, who reported lower levels of= =20
environmental knowledge and action.

The polls surveyed 982 students grades 4 to 12 in schools natio= nwide -- a=20
group reflective of the population of U.S. students as a whole -- as = well as=20
2,139 students in the same age group who live in disadvantaged commun= ities,=20
where 30 percent or more of the population falls below the poverty li= ne. The=20
surveys were commissioned by NEETF with funding from the EPA, and con= ducted by=20
Roper Starch Worldwide.

"The schoolchildren of this country care deeply about our envir= onment, and=20
they are ready and willing to help protect it," said EPA Administrato= r Carol M.=20
Browner. "These surveys will help all of us do a better job of develo= ping=20
environmental education materials and programs that meet children's n= eeds."

Foundation Chairman Francis P. Pandolfi said, "It's clear that t= he nation's=20
young people want to know more about solving environmental problems. = These=20
results provide a compelling reason for all sectors to join forces to= provide=20
more opportunities for young people to learn about and protect the en= vironment." =20
Pandolfi also is President and CEO of Times Mirror Magazines.

The surveys also showed that:

=B7 Schoolchildren in grades 4 and 5 say they learn more about the= =20
environment than students in higher grades, and are more likely = to =09
feel that environmental problems affect them every day than thei= r high-
school counterparts;

=B7 Girls report higher levels of knowledge and concern for enviro= nmental=20
issues than boys;

=B7 Students report that they actively take steps to help protect = the=20
environment, such as turning off lights to save energy (78 perce= nt),=20
recycling (69 percent), and saving water (67 percent);

=B7 More disadvantaged students identified shortages of good drink= ing=20
water, lead poisoning, and pollution from toxic waste as issues = of=20
greater concern to them, compared to all students surveyed;

=B7 Students said they knew the most about destruction of the rain= forest,=20
air pollution and damage to the ozone layer, and knew the least = about=20
agricultural runoff and pollution from toxic or hazardous dumps= ites;

=B7 74 percent of all students reported that television is their n= umber one=20
source for environmental information, with school second at 50 p= ercent;

=B7 Older students are more likely to prefer television and newspa= pers as=20
sources of environmental information, while family, museums and = zoos are=20
more important in lower grades; and=20

=B7 Disadvantaged students overwhelmingly (73 percent) cite scienc= e class=20
as their primary source of learning about the environment.

The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation was= chartered=20
by Congress in 1990 to create a national and interna-tional environme= ntally=20
literate citizenry and workforce; to facilitate partner-ships among f= ederal,=20
state and local government, business, industry, academia, environment= al groups=20
and international organizations; to leverage public and private resou= rces for=20
environmental education, training and research; and to foster an envi= ronmentally=20
conscious and committed public. NEETF has funded more than $3 millio= n in=20
environmental education grants since its inception.

EPA is the lead Federal agency for environmental education, with= a program=20
that includes grants for environmental education projects; teacher tr= aining; the=20
President's Environmental Youth Awards; and resources and information= about the=20
environment to teachers, students, and citizens. The Agency provides= funding to=20
NEETF annually to match private contributions in support of environme= ntal=20
education and training nationwide.

For a complete copy of the two surveys, contact NEETF at 915 Fif= teenth St.=20
NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC, 20005, or call 202/628-8200.

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