Environmental education programs essential

Stories of shortage dominate American headlines today. Alabama has experienced its worst drought in a century, gasoline shortages threaten our economic security and increased food prices ,with diminished food security, have prompted American concern.

Conservationist Aldo Leopold once warned his audience of &8220;the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from a grocery,&8221; and his words are now more poignant than ever. As our economic resources change, Alabama must revisit the critical issue of environmental education.

Although it does not compete with football or basketball for viewer ratings, programs like Envirothon, an academic competition requiring students to develop solutions to real-world environmental problems, will become increasingly important in Alabama.

This summer, students from Oak Mountain High School represented Alabama at the North American competition, defeating top teams from California, Texas, Washington and much of Canada, en route to a 13th place finish.

Extra-curricular programs such as Envirothon, in addition to school curricula which educate students in natural resources and renewable energy sources and enhanced outdoor education programs, are absolutely essential to Alabama&8217;s future.

Governor George Wallace&8217;s administration acknowledged this issue in a 1975 report emphasizing that Alabama should &8220;promote the wide use of environmental resources to meet the energy needs of the State, utilizing interstate cooperation and environmental education.&8221;

In today&8217;s competitive era, with chronic shortages and rapid technological growth, American students must adapt. Environmental education teaches students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to real-world problems.

Taking students outdoors inspires them to understand the actual implications of learning in a way not conceived at a monotonous desk, in a nondescript room, lit with fluorescent lighting.

Today, I am working to bring this issue to the attention of Congress with the support of the people of Alabama.

The people need to write Congress asking for funding for comprehensive environmental education, so that students in all Alabama schools can receive innovative opportunities to learn from and be inspired by the outdoors.

Alabama&8217;s students need the natural wonders of the outdoors, and the natural wonders of the outdoors need Alabama students to nourish and care for them.

Scott Gray is a native of Wilsonville, a graduate of Oak Mountain High School, and currently a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C