An overview of the WCEE's history, programs,
and future direction created in 2011 for the
20th anniversary of the WCEE.
Creation of the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
Through the 1980s, need for greater environmental education (EE) capacity in Wisconsin was expressed by staff in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), as well as, the state's professional EE organization, the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education (WAEE). Representing all these interests, Randy Champeau, then Professor of Environmental Education in the College of Natural Resources (CNR) at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) and CNR Associate Dean at the time, Rick Wilke, proposed the creation of:
- a statewide EE Center that included university faculty and outreach staff who would assist in the development, dissemination, implementation, and evaluation of K-12 teacher and student EE programs to be housed at UWSP
- an Environmental Education Board that would identify needs and establish priorities for EE in Wisconsin
- an EE grants program
State Representative, Stan Gruszynski, and Senator, David Helback, submitted the proposal to the Wisconsin legislature. In 1990, the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education (WCEE) was officially created under Wisconsin Legislative Act 299 (see section 9). Randy Champeau went on to serve as the director of the WCEE from 1991-2011. Under the same legislative act, the EE grants program was given to the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) to administer and the WEEB was placed in the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Subsequent legislation moved the WEEB to the UW System and it is currently housed at UWSP.
Advancing K-12 Environmental Education in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education is legislated to improve environmental education in Wisconsin. To accomplish this, the WCEE assists in the development, dissemination, implementation and evaluation of teacher and student K-12 EE programs. The WCEE is housed within the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. This connection allows the WCEE staff to work with more than 100 faculty and staff in various disciplines and provides a central location to support statewide outreach. Dedication to the field of environmental education and experienced staff has helped the WCEE become a leader in the field of EE. The center is able to accomplish its goals through strong partnerships with state agencies and other organizations.
2011: Celebrating 20 Years of EE Partnerships
Partnerships with educators, agencies, organizations, individuals, and learning institutions over the past 20 years helped the WCEE grow into a leading environmental education organization in the state and nation. In 2011, the WCEE celebrated 20 years of partnerships that have led to Wisconsin being at the forefront of environmental education in the nation. The WCEE congratulates all environmental education stakeholders on their successes and are thankful for the support of EE and the WCEE.
The WCEE will continue to build partnerships that make environmental education in Wisconsin healthy and vibrant. Recent milestones for Wisconsin including restoring the DPI EE Consultant and the creation of a statewide environmental literacy plan are indicators that environmental education in Wisconsin is strong and active. The WCEE looks forward to providing continued support and leadership in in the future.
- 2002 - Support Organization of the Year, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- 1999 - WAEE Award, Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education
- 1996 - Environmental Excellence Award, The Midwest Renewable Energy Association
- 1995 - Outstanding Service to Environmental Education, The North American Association for Environmental Education
- 1994 - Conservation Educator of the Year, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation