California is known for its beautiful beaches, rolling mountain ranges, and vast landscapes. Now in the midst of a crippling drought, the state is making headlines for its bone-dry conditions, which have actually caused parts of the earth to rise. With environmental challenges taking center stage, the value of environmental education has become the topic of conversation among many state officials and leaders, including California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
Torlakson recently appointed Cheryl Peach, director of Scripps Educational Alliances at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, to his Environmental Literacy Task Force. Peach, who recently received the UC San Diego Diversity Award, has a long history of excellence in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
“I know from meeting with Dr. Peach previously that she has the experience and background to make an important contribution to this vital effort," said Torlakson. "She is ideally suited to help ensure the task force is successful in its goals to explore the current status of environmental literacy education in California and to develop recommendations for how to better serve our students.”
Torlakson, a former science teacher, believes that science, environmental, and outdoor education is vital to preparing California’s students with the necessary skills to grow our global economy. Thus, he was inspired to create the Environmental Literacy Task Force.
The ultimate goal of the task force is to create a blueprint for increasing environmental literacy for all California students, align existing resources of schools with informal service providers (such as science museums, aquariums, zoos, parks, and non-profit organizations), and leverage existing curricula toward these goals.
Peach’s tireless work to build the K-12 pipeline to higher education—especially through STEM—made her an ideal candidate for the task force, which is composed of both formal and informal environmental educators, and engages diverse stakeholders from across the state.
In her new role on the task force, Peach will help complete the Blueprint for Environmental Literacy for the State of California. Her educational expertise will aid recommendations for how environmental literacy resources should best be coordinated, supported, improved, and utilized to implement the State Board of Education’s adopted Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs).
Peach is excited to begin contributing to the task force, which will ultimately impact millions of California students.
“As this will flow down to districts, schools, and teachers, having a firm handle on what the expectations are and how we at Scripps can contribute to helping teachers address incorporating environmental literacy in their classrooms is a great opportunity,” said Peach. “At a higher level, this initiative has a direct connection of the new UC San Diego research priorities—especially understanding and protecting the planet—and is also clearly part of the mission of Scripps Oceanography and Birch Aquarium.”
Peach’s passion for education and representing students is also prevalent throughout her myriad other academic roles. She is currently serving as a program scientist at Birch Aquarium at Scripps, co-principal investigator of the Scripps GK-12 program Scripps Classroom Connection, Scripps principal investigator for the Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE), and a lecturer at UC San Diego.
A dedicated professional, Peach welcomes the opportunity to learn something new.
“This is a new arena for me and I look forward to finding out how the education system in California works when moving to adopt new material for student instruction,” said Peach. “I will certainly be talking to my colleagues in science and science education institution wide to ensure that our contribution reflects the best that Scripps and UC San Diego can offer.”
- Brittany Hook