Environmental education is paramount


At the beginning of this semester, I wrote about why News Literacy should be a required course for students at Florida Gulf Coast University because it benefits students by transforming them into an informed news consumer. One required class that I do agree with, however, is University Colloquium.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of being waist deep in swamp water, environmental education and awareness is important.
As clichéd as it sounds, it’s true: Today’s youths are tomorrow’s leaders. That is why it is so important for students to be educated about not only the environment itself, but how our actions affect the natural world around us.
Ever since the industrial revolution, the human species has been rapidly depleting the Earth’s resources for its own consumption. In just a few hundred years, the human population has increased by approximately six billion people and depleted most of the world’s resources, including the extinction of over 800 species of animals and plants.
It’s not just about recycling a few cans and being conscious of what bin you‘re throwing your paper into — it’s much bigger than that. We need to be considerate and conscious of our actions as a human race; we depend utterly on the survival of other species.
As the biologist E.O. Wilson, once said, “Humans are the masters of this world now. We can take these animals with us as we travel into the future, or we can say goodbye and send them into the night. Whether we realize it or not, we depend on other creatures for our very survival, they are a part of our existence, they are a part of us.”
Luckily, FGCU has many different outlets of environmental education. Aside from the environmental studies major, FGCU offers many courses, such as Environmental Humanities, Environmental Philosophies and incorporates outreach programs such as Wings of Hope. Wings of Hope, a program that FGCU students participate in as a students in the Environmental Humanities course, is an environmental outreach program that simultaneously educates both college and elementary students about the Southwest Florida habitat, wildlife and the Florida panther.
FGCU students are educated on the curriculum that they will then teach the elementary students for service-learning hours. Elementary students visit FGCU and the CREW hiking trails as part of a field trip.  After the program is completed, the FGCU and local elementary students continue spreading awareness by educating their friends and family.
Colloquium, a required course many seniors and upperclassmen take to graduate, focuses on the same ideas. The course description reads, “The University Colloquium brings together students from all five colleges in a series of interdisciplinary-learning experiences. These experiences are designed to address the ecological perspective outcome in relations to other University outcomes and guiding principles. Critical thinking and communication skills will be enhanced through field trips, discussion, projects, and a journal to be maintained by each student.”
Programs such as Wings of Hope, as well as required courses like colloquium, are great ways to spread awareness and encourage environmental consciousness. FGCU should continue to fund programs such as these and requiring environmental education courses.
It is so important to take care of our natural world, because whether we realize it or not, we depend on the survival of other species. We only get one world; we need to continue to educate students so we can preserve our world for the future.