Investigating Interventions to Increase Environmental Literacy Among K-12 Teachers and BIPOC Students


February 1, 2022 to January 31, 2024


Researchers will examine factors that support environmental literacy among teachers and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students participating in Upward Bound summer courses at the University of Vermont (UVM) and SUNY Plattsburgh. There is an urgent need to develop environmentally literate citizens prepared to address pressing and emergent environmental issues worldwide. However, there exists a pervasive perception of “environmentalists'' as white, upper-middle class, politically liberal, and college-educated, and the environmental workforce is predominately white. However, environmental literacy programs have largely served white populations, leaving out BIPOC individuals, and environmental degree programs at the university-level have failed to attract BIPOC students.

More work is needed to understand how to develop equitable environmental literacy, particularly among members of groups that have historically been excluded from such programs. This issue is highly relevant within the Lake Champlain basin and is reflected in the enrollment of students studying natural resources and environment at the two universities in the basin. Researchers and partners propose expanding an existing program, called Watershed Bound!, which is a partnership between SUNY Plattsburgh, UVM, UVM Extension, Upward Bound at both SUNY Plattsburgh and UVM, and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Watershed Alliance Program. Given that Upward Bound at UVM serves a large proportion of BIPOC students, and both Upward Bound programs serve potential first generation college students, expanding Watershed Bound! will create opportunities for potential first generation college students to learn about the field of watershed science. This will allow researchers to investigate factors that support environmental literacy among BIPOC individuals in the Lake Champlain basin.


Kimberly Coleman
Assistant Professor, SUNY Plattsburgh
kcole014 [at]

Leon Walls
Associate Professor, University of Vermont
leon.walls [at]