Day is executive director of the North American Association for Environmental Education, a professional nonprofit association made up of professionals, students and volunteers who work to promote environmental education.
How did you get involved in improving environmental literacy?
I've spent my life's work working in environmental education. When I was in high school, I organized an Earth Day teach-in. It was the very first Earth Day, 40 years ago. I asked the principal to hold it. After the principal was aghast that I had invited all these speakers without telling him first, he had to do it.
What do you think the biggest concern is for environmental education today?
I think that an awful lot of people don't feel empowered to make decisions. Environmental education is about empowering people to make their own lifestyle and policy decisions. When they see things like the oil spill and climate change, they feel they don't have the information they need.
How does the recent Gulf oil spill affect environmental education?
I think when it comes to an issue like the oil spill, it points out a real need for people in America to think about environment education and see how it impacts their day-to-day decisions. It points out, unfortunately, the overwhelming need for more environmental literacy. Many people don't understand the oil, the ocean, the wildlife, the job, the economics and the culture that are part of the natural-human ecosystem.
What methods do you promote?
We are not an advocacy organization. What we're promoting right now is that every child goes through goes through the school system and graduates being environmentally literate. It isn't just knowledge. It's about figuring things out and learning how to make their own environmental lifestyle decisions. We call it "No Child Left Inside."
-- Joey Flechas