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Warren Wilson College
Campus Box 6323
P.O. Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000


Please refer comments or questions about this website to Ellen Querin.

Eco Team



EcoTeam is an environmental education program of the Environmental Leadership Center (ELC) of Warren Wilson College. It was developed as a community outreach project in 1997. Since its creation, the program has forged collaborative relationships between higher education and elementary schools with a unique environmental education curriculum designed for third graders. The mission of the Environmental Leadership Center (ELC) is to raise awareness of local, national, and global environmental realities and to inspire citizens-especially our youth-to reflect, to communicate, and to act as responsible caretakers of the earth. EcoTeam is designed to teach third graders about environmental and ecological concepts while providing undergraduate students with experience coordinating, delivering and evaluating an environmental education program to local elementary schools. In addition to supporting the original EcoTeam program at Warren Wilson College, the ELC is committed to the expansion of the program to colleges and universities throughout the South East. To learn specifically how the ELC can help you start an EcoTeam program at your college or university, please read the Develop EcoTeam at Your School section of the website.In addition to supporting the original EcoTeam program at Warren Wilson College, the ELC is committed to the expansion of the program to colleges and universities throughout the South East.


EcoTeam began by sending trained Warren Wilson College (WWC) students into third grade classes in Buncombe County, North Carolina to present environmental education lessons. The original EcoTeam concept and lessons were developed and refined by Warren Wilson College students under the direction of ELC staff. Beginning in 2000, the ELC contracted Dr. Tom Marcinkowski of the Florida Institute of Technology to assist in an evaluation of the EcoTeam curriculum. The subsequent two year process of rewriting and refining EcoTeam has involved ELC staff, WWC students, Buncombe County School personnel, Dr. Marcinkowski and a diverse expert review panel. The goal of this process was to create an environmental education curriculum that is now:

·       regionally relevant. (While some materials may have to be adjusted for regional relevancy, the EcoTeam program is a template for groups that wish to build partnerships between their college or university and the elementary schools in their various communities);

·       developmentally appropriate for third graders;

·       multi-disciplinary and correlated with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study;

·       Correlated with National Science Education Standards, Content Standards (K-4);

·       consistent with the North American Association for Environmental Educations (NAAEE) www.naaee.org Guidelines for Excellence and Guidelines for the Initial Preparation of Environmental Educators;

·       complimentary of the nations leading third grade science text books (Harcourt Brace, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw Hill and Scott Foresman);

·       structured on the Learning Cycle Model.



Warren Wilson College is a work college, one of 7 work colleges in the US. Each student is committed to performing 15 hours of work per week for the college along with maintaining a full academic schedule and completing 100 hours of community service prior to graduation. The Environmental Leadership Center (ELC) serves a community outreach function for WWC. The ELC has an EcoTeam Work Crew comprised of six students typically majoring in Environmental Studies, Education or Outdoor Leadership who work under the supervision of the ELCs Environmental Education Coordinators. Annually, the student crew delivers approximately 300 EcoTeam lessons to 1,200 third graders in 21 different elementary schools in Buncombe County, North Carolina.


The EcoTeam curriculum is based upon the experiences of the WWC EcoTeam program, the success of the Learning Cycle Model, and the expressed needs of both the formal education sector and the professional environmental education community.



The original EcoTeam program was designed to serve undergraduate students by providing applied teacher training. The original curriculum used for this endeavor was well received, but required improvement to become a program that could be replicated at other institutions. Upon evaluation, it was determined that the original lessons were developmentally too advanced for the target group, lacked regional relevancy and were not tightly correlated to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.

The revised curriculum maintains its focus as a tool for pre-service teacher training while improving its integrity as a series of lessons for third graders. The topics featured in this curriculum and the way in which they are communicated to the audience is developmentally appropriate for third graders. EcoTeam strives to teach third graders about the environment while respecting the fact that, as young children, they have a very limited ability to effect change in their life. EcoTeam addresses the need for environmental citizenship in a way that focuses on lifestyle choices that are in a third graders control, while realizing that the children will someday be decision making adults.

The revised curriculum is regionally relevant. Third grade children understand what they interact with on a day today basis. They lack the ability to truly understand that which they have not experienced. Western North Carolina is a biodiverse temperate deciduous forest ecosystem. Threats to this ecosystem include, but are not limited to development, resource over-consumption and air pollution. The revised EcoTeam curriculum includes a lesson on river basins. In this lesson, children explore the French Broad River Basin, the place where they live.


For more information regarding Eco Team, please contact Stan Cross at scross@warren-wilson.edu.