NEEF 2019 Impact

As leaders in lifelong environmental learning, we at the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) are dedicated to advancing environmental education and engagement in the United States. For nearly 30 years, we have worked to cultivate an environmentally conscious and responsible public through K-12 education, health and wellness, and conservation-focused programs, grants, and initiatives.

As this year—and the decade—draws to a close, we’d like to highlight some of our most recent successes and share how thrilled we are to continue our mission of making the environment more accessible, relatable, relevant, and connected to the daily lives of all Americans in 2020 and beyond.


This year saw the advancement of the Greening STEM approach, NEEF’s interdisciplinary and collaborative way to teach STEM subjects that uses the natural environment and real-world challenges to engage learners and deliver high-quality environmental education.

In addition to launching the Greening STEM Hub during Environmental Education Week, NEEF was invited to present the Greening STEM model at the National Science Teaching Association’s STEM Forum & Expo as well as the Bureau of Indian Education’s 50th Annual Convention.

While 2019 marked the conclusion of the EPA-sponsored Hands on the Land mini-grant program, it was also the beginning of our partnership with Samsung and the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® on the Climate Superstars Challenge, an online environmental education program for middle school students.

Hands on the Land Mini-Grants: $65,000 in total funding from NEEF and Partners in Resource Education; 19 Mini-Grants awarded to partnerships between schools and public land and waterway sites

Student winners of the Samsung Climate Superstars Challenge!

Teachers throughout the US participated in the Climate Superstars Challenge

James Maki's seventh-grade Earth Science class in Ishpeming, MI, was one of 20 classrooms to win the 2019 Climate Superstars Challenge.
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Teacher holding a seedling in glass jar while teaching young students in a garden

NEEF Debuted the Greening STEM Hub

For EE Week 2019, NEEF launched the Greening STEM Hub to provide educators with the resources they need to deliver high-quality STEM education.
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In 2019, NEEF continued our work of focusing on environmental health concerns and benefits by providing training and resources for healthcare professionals on environmental management to improve patient outcomes.

Our partnership with the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) to educate nurses on environmental triggers for pediatric asthma proved so popular, we are currently adapting the guidelines into a more-accessible e-learning format.

NEEF has also partnered with Cerner Corporation, one of the largest suppliers in the US of health information technology solutions, services, devices, and hardware, to integrate NEEF's Environmental History Form into its electronic medical record database. This year, Cerner reported that 28 hospitals in the U.S., Canada, and Australia accessed the Environmental History Form, further increasing its impact.

National Association of School Nurses Impact: 393 school nurses trained; 393,000 students reached

Kid using inhaler outside

“ASTHMA-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENTS” course set 2019 viewership record for National Association of School Nurses

NEEF’s online learning activity developed for school nurses has over 14,000 views this year, with approximately 1,200 nurses completing the course.
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UF Shands Children's Hospital

NEEF helped launch the first Nature Explore Classroom at Florida Hospital

UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, FL will be the first hospital to institute a nature-based space designed to promote health.
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With the unprecedented success of this year’s National Public Lands Day (NPLD), 2019 was a banner year for public land conservation. On September 28, over 156,000 volunteers pitched in at thousands of sites all across the country, and national corporate sponsor Toyota North America hosted two dozen additional volunteer events that same day for employees and their families.

In addition, NEEF introduced the NPLD Highlighted Site program, providing 30 sites with a custom sponsorship package and mini-grant to help with their NPLD events.

Finally, we also signed agreements to help bring future NPLD events to all city, county, and state parks managed by both Tennessee and Virginia State Parks systems.

National Public Lands Day 2019 Impact: 156,093 volunteers; 2,117 work sites; $15.9 million value of volunteer work; 300 educational events

San Diego River Mouth volunteers at the 2019 NPLD event

26th Annual National Public Lands Day Drew Record Numbers

This year's NPLD saw a 38% increase in volunteers at more than 2,000 public lands sites in 49 states, including Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
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Sign up for the 7-day plastic-free challenge; First Step

NEEF and Aquarium Conservation Partnership Joined Forces to Fight Plastic Pollution

6,240 people took part in the First Step campaign’s 7-day plastic-free challenge. 78% of them pledged to reduce their use of single-use plastic.
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Thanks to support from our partners, NEEF awarded almost $700,000 in grants for conservation, health, and education efforts across the country.

Programs included partnering with the Department of Defense to strengthen environmental and cultural resource enhancement activities at 13 military installation sites, a joint effort with the US Forest Service to fund outdoor learning projects in diverse communities that teach the mental and physical benefits of nature, and support from Toyota to help restore biodiversity and protect critical habitats in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia region.

This year also saw the completion of projects from 2018’s Restoration & Resilience grantees, which we hope will continue to have a positive impact on local communities and public lands for years to come.

Landscape photo of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River valley in Washington State

NEEF Grant Site Earned Official Protected Status

Thanks to a Seattle nonprofit, Congress recently designated 1.5 million acres along the I-90 corridor in Washington State as a National Heritage Area.
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Volunteers with the Mountain Studies Institute at a stewardship event

NEEF Helped a Community Heal Through Environmental Stewardship

With support from NEEF and Toyota, a small Colorado nonprofit was able to help their community bounce back after a devastating wildfire.
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