NEEF's 2020 Impact

NEEF 2020 Impact

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

2020 has been a challenging year. It has tested all of us in unexpected ways and forced us to acclimate to a “new normal.” Thankfully, NEEF is uniquely suited to adapt to changing conditions while continuing to serve the public as a resource for environmental education.

This year has shown all of us the importance of making the environment more accessible, relatable, relevant, and connected to the daily lives of all Americans. We’d like to highlight the ways in which we have achieved this goal during these challenging times while positioning ourselves to continue our success into 2021 and beyond.


Perhaps no facet of daily life was impacted by COVID-19 more than education. With classes moving online and teachers scrambling to update their lesson plans, NEEF stepped in to help by compiling a list of educational resources for parents, educators, and caretakers to use while their children are stuck at home. We also released many of our National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) resources early to make them more readily available when teachers needed them most. While this was our first-ever fully virtual EE Week, we received a lot of positive feedback from educators on the program and how we can streamline the process next year.

Mother helping her daughter with homework

Environmental Education at Home

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NEEF has compiled a list of toolkits and activity guides you can do at home.
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Just prior to the lockdowns in March, NEEF partnered with Samsung, the Teaneck Creek Conservancy (TCC), and Benjamin Franklin Middle School (BFMS) in Teaneck, New Jersey, to launch a Greening STEM project focused on environmental monitoring at a local watershed. Educators from River Keepers along with TCC staff and BFMS faculty facilitated two days of field work before COVID-19 disrupted the project. A series of short videos captured the enthusiasm of everyone involved. There are plans to continue the project in the coming academic year.

Finally, NEEF again partnered with Samsung and the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® program for the Climate Superstars Challenge. This year, NEEF provided additional resources to help educators better incorporate the Climate Superstars Challenge into their daily lesson plans whether in-person, online, or in a hybrid learning environment.

Samsung Climate Superstars

NEEF Announces Winners of 2020 Climate Superstars Challenge

NEEF, Samsung, and the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® announce the winners of the 2020 Climate Superstars Challenge.
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>3000 Resources Downloaded, >300 Course Enrollees

This year, we launched an interactive eLearning course: Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma: Guidelines for Healthcare Providers. This 1.5-hour course consists of eight educational modules rooted in approaches for achieving asthma control. NEEF received approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Training and Continuing Education Online (CDC TCEO) to offer free continuing education credits for individuals who complete this course, making us the first CDC-funded program in the National Asthma Control Program to apply for and receive credentials through the CDC CE.

Doctor with child patient

Online Courses

Register and complete our free online "Environmental Management of Pediatric Asthma: Guidelines for Healthcare Providers" certification course.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of educating American citizens on matters of public health. NEEF has been proactive on this front by addressing the health risks caused by COVID-19 for people with asthma, as well as providing resources for how to stay safe and healthy while isolating.

Asthma patient

Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) and People with Asthma

Curated information and guidelines from NEEF and the CDC related to the 2019 Coronavirus pandemic.
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Masked people

Staying Safe, Healthy, and Entertained During the Coronavirus

NEEF has put together a few ways you can stay healthy, get exercise, and help manage your stress during this crisis.
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This February, NEEF released the Public Lands Engagement: Health & Wellness in Nature community guide to the public. Developed in partnership with the National Park Service and US Forest Service, it is packed with information to help local communities organize successful outdoor health and wellness activities through real-world examples, recommendations, and related resources. Since its release, the guide has been downloaded over 600 times!

The annual National Public Lands Day (NPLD)  celebration each September is the largest single-day volunteer effort for America’s public lands. In 2019, over 2,000 public lands sites across the US hosted NPLD events, and together they engaged more than 150,000 volunteers in hands-on conservation activities.

This year, NPLD needed to look a little different.  While public land sites were still able to register socially distant in-person events, NEEF focused on supporting  innovative virtual events designed to engage volunteers and connect people to public lands from the safety and comfort of their homes. With generous support from Toyota Motor North America, NEEF sponsored 38 innovative virtual events during this year’s NPLD celebration as part of our "More Ways to Connect to Nature" campaign.

We also held our very first Virtual Signature Event to kick off NPLD this year! With help from our friends at Corazón Latino, NEEF hosted a virtual musical tour of some of America’s most scenic public lands sites, from Joshua Tree National Park in California to Kenilworth Gardens in Washington, DC. You can watch a full replay of the event here. Check out the impact of this unique NPLD.

Employee Engagement

In February, Vice President of Programs Sara Espinoza and International Paper's Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw presented "Engaging Your Hourly Workforce in Your Company’s Community Sustainability Efforts" at the 2020 GreenBiz Conference in Phoenix. This presentation was based on an employee engagement pilot project for the company’s hourly workers.

Employee engagement programs focusing on the environment and sustainability have demonstrated the potential impact on company savings through reduction of environmental costs (energy, water, waste, etc.) and costs related to employee recruitment and retention, as well as community impact through employee volunteerism and pro-bono activities. The International Paper pilot effort provides an example of how companies that give hourly employees a voice and develop sustainability and community engagement activities inclusive of the hourly workforce can increase job satisfaction and retention within this group.

To commemorate Earth Day 2020, NEEF partnered with iHeartMedia to launch iHeartRadio Earth, a new sustainability initiative designed to inspire millions of iHeart listeners to take simple actions that positively impact the planet and help save money. Over the course of the year, iHeartRadio Earth evolved to include a series of local environmental events, social media contests, and exclusive content for new and existing iHeart podcasts. To date, the campaign has received over 225 million impressions!


With social distancing regulations in place and recreation centers closed throughout the year, people turned to the outdoors more than ever for exercise and rejuvenation. Many public lands have seen a surge in usage—two to three times as many visitors in some areas—as well as a sharp reduction in staff and volunteer projects that keep them open and available for all Americans to enjoy.

As one of the nation’s leading supporters of public lands engagement, NEEF is dedicated to helping America’s public lands recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With help from our corporate partners at Toyota Motor North America and International Paper, NEEF established the Restoration & Resilience Fund to distribute resources and mobilize volunteers to help restore these special places once the pandemic subsides.


This year also saw NEEF partner with the Department of Defense (DoD) Legacy Resource Management Program to sponsor its first National Park Service’s Park Rx Day funding opportunity for military installations. National Park Rx Day celebrates spending time in nature for improved health.

Led by healthcare providers and health professionals, National Park Rx Day commemorates the importance of people connecting with natural environments to improve their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Despite unforeseen challenges and delays that resulted from the COVID-19 crisis, many installations are excited about potentially hosting Park Rx events in the future.

Our 2019 Impact
NPLD 2019 events across the country

NEEF's 2019 Impact

See how we did in 2019, from our Greening STEM initiative to our work with school nurses to our annual NPLD.
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