Environmental Education Program Directors


Exploring this Job

The best way to start exploring the field is through reading. Read science magazines and books and visit science Web sites to learn more about science topics in which you are interested, as well as to discover new subjects of interest. Watch science documentaries on television or the Internet. Some interesting magazines (and Web sites) include

  • National Geographic: http://www.nationalgeographic.com
  • Smithsonian: http://www.smithsonianmag.com
  • Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com
  • ScienceNews for Students: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org
  • National Geographic Kids: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com
  • Sierra: http://www.sierraclub.org

Many schools and organizations offer summer environmental education programs for people of all ages. Explore the organizations that interest you most—for example, the World Wildlife Federation (http://www.worldwildlife.org), Sierra Club (http://www.sierraclub.org), and The Nature Conservancy (http://www.nature.org) to see what their calendar of events and programs offer. Attend workshops and talks that focus on the environmental issues that intrigue you and that you want to learn more about.

You can also talk to an environmental education program director about his or her career to learn more about the field.

The Job

Environmental education program directors create and oversee programs of study that focus on environmental topics, which can relate to animals, plants, land, water, conservation, and natural resources. They work in education departments of museums, conservation and nature centers, parks, zoos, aquariums, or public schools, private schools, colleges, and universities. Their work usually involves hiring and managing educators; researching and creating curriculum for classes, workshops, lectures, and conferences; preparing educational program budgets; and handling other aspects of business if the organization that they work for is small or understaffed. For instance, larger organizations may have dedicated staff to handle everything from enrollment to marketing and promotion. Program directors for small schools or programs may have these tasks added to their job responsibilities.

Most educational program directors have teaching backgrounds. Prior experience in the education field helps them determine the subject matter, the reading and study materials, assignments, and teaching styles that are appropriate for the intended audience, which, for example, will be students if they work for a school, or members if they work for a nonprofit organization. Many directors also have prior work experience as professionals in the field, such as wildlife scientists, biologists, botanists, green architects, climatologists, or sustainability consultants.

Program directors may also work for education centers that provide educational resources to schools. A typical center might help schools, nonprofit organizations, and community centers create environmental curriculum that teaches sustainability, climate change, and related issues. Workers at the center may also create exhibits and interactive and interpretive displays.

Education program directors may own and run the educational organization as well as manage the educational programs. In addition to creating curriculum, managing teachers, and possibly teaching, program directors may also organize and manage internship and volunteer programs.