This paper introduces a theoretical framework and practical means of teaching environmental literacy through the explanation of a structured day hike experience with university students along the Bruce Trail in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada. Environmental literacy is about deeply knowing the details and histories of particular settings and has become increasingly popular for directing outdoor and environmental education experiences. However, what it means to be environmentally literate is a topic for debate and is often difficult to articulate and describe to those who are unfamiliar with the term. Stables (1998) described an environmental literacy framework that is useful for teaching different ways of learning about and experiencing natural environments. Stables' framework was based upon functional, cultural, and critical elements, which coalesce to create a holistic approach to understanding environmental literacy. The purpose of this article is to describe an interactive approach for teaching environmental literacy by using a theoretical framework as a guide for practice.
KEYWORDS: Environmental literacy, outdoor education, environmental education
The topic of environmental literacy has become increasingly popular in outdoor recreation theory and practice as a means to foster person-place relationships (Curthoys & Cuthbertson, 2002). Environmental literacy can be used as an approach to outdoor and environmental education, which actively engages learners with multiple processes and histories of a particular setting (Stables & Bishop, 2001). Stables (1998) described a utilitarian approach that can be used to teach environmental literacy through identifying functional, cultural, and critical ways of learning about natural environments. Functional literacy is one's ability to interpret objective information such as identifying the name of a specific tree and knowing if the tree is native to a specific region. Understandings of cultural literacy focus on human histories and the different roles of people …