Environmental Literacy

The goal of Maryland's Environmental Literacy instructional program is to enable students to make decisions and take actions that create and maintain an optimal relationship between themselves and the environment, and to preserve and protect the unique natural resources of Maryland, particularly those of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

Supporting Documents

Environmental Literacy Standards

Environmental Literacy Framework

Programs and Organizations

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS)

The U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School Program recognizes early learning centers, schools, districts, and higher education institutions that conserve environmental resources, reduce costs, feature environmentally sustainable learning spaces, protect school and community health, foster wellness, and offer environmental and sustainability education. The recognition award is part of a larger U.S. Department of Education effort to identify and disseminate knowledge about practices proven to improve student engagement, academic achievement, graduation rates, and workforce preparedness, as well as a government-wide aim to increase energy independence and economic security.

The application window for the 2023-2024 school year closed on December 15, 2023. The application materials from 2023-2024 are posted below and are subject to change for the 2024-2025 application cycle. Applications will reopen in the fall.

MSDE will review all applications using the Maryland Green Ribbon Rubric. Maryland may forward up to five (5) applications to the U.S. Department of Education who will make the final decision regarding national recognition.

Please direct questions to Zachary Carey, Director of Science, or Payton Hesse, Environmental Literacy Specialist.

Maryland Green Schools Program

The Maryland Green Schools Program is a sustainable school certification program that recognizes schools that provide PreK – 12 students with educational opportunities that empower them to make changes to reduce environmental impact, practice environmental stewardship, encourage sustainability, increase awareness of how our relationship with the environment ultimately impacts public health and society and fosters environmental literacy.

Maryland Envirothon

The Maryland Envirothon is a competitive environmental program for high school students in grades 9 – 12.  Students learn about the natural world of aquatics, forestry, soils, and wildlife through various hands-on activities from resource professionals who are experts in the field.  Subsequently, students apply this knowledge to various real-life situations of managing those resources.

Chesapeake Bay Program

The Chesapeake Bay Program brings together the Chesapeake Bay “headwater states” to envision an environmentally and economically sustainable Chesapeake Bay watershed with clean water, abundant life, conserved lands, access to the water, a vibrant cultural heritage, and a diversity of engaged citizens and stakeholders.

Project Green Classrooms

Project Green Classrooms is an advisory body of well-rounded public-private stakeholders designed to mobilize resources to ensure Maryland’s youth experience, understand, and learn to conserve the natural environment.

Maryland Commission on Climate Change

The Commission is an advisory group charged with recommending approaches to “mitigate the causes of, prepare for, and adapt to the consequences of climate change.”

Outdoor Learning Partnership

Governor Wes Moore established the Maryland Outdoor Learning Partnership (OLP) by Executive Order (EO) on April 22, 2024, tasking OLP with empowering all of Maryland's youth to grow as environmental stewards that access, conserve, and restore our natural resources to ensure a climate-ready Maryland.

Local Education Agency Environmental Literacy Contact Information

For information on environmental literacy instructional programming within a local education agency (LEA), please contact the LEA’s Environmental Literacy Point of Contact.


Zachary Carey
Director of Science, Office of Teaching and Learning

Office: (410) 767-0348

Payton Hesse
Environmental Literacy Specialist, Office of Teaching and Learning

Office: (410) 767-0323