Daily Point of Light # 1913 Jun 4, 2001

Dr. William Stapp is affectionately called the Father of Environmental Education. In 1984, Dr. Stapp helped a group of concerned students investigate cases of hepatitis contracted from the Huron River. The students discovered the cause of the problem and worked with the local government to find a solution. As a result of their success, Dr. Stapp founded the Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN) to aid youth around the work in protecting their local water resources. Today, GREEN is a program of Earth Force and links educators and students in watershed education programs in 50 sates and 135 countries.

During his career, Dr. Stapp focused on the root causes of environmental issues as well as educating people to fin solutions to those issues. He and his students are largely responsible for coining and defining the term, “environmental education” and the spread of environmental education into the curricula of schools around the globe.

Dr. Stapp has been a pioneer in environmental education long before it became a cause to embrace. He has been actively working in the field since the 1960’s. Dr. Stapp earned his B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan, and has taught there as a professor since 1964. He initiated an environmental education program into the Ann Arbor school system in the 60’s and co-founded the Citizens Association for Area Planning (CAAP) in the City of Ann Arbor during that same time. In addition to this, Dr. Stapp served as chairperson of the Governor’s Task Force for developing an environmental education plan for the state of Michigan.

His work continued through the 70’s when Dr. Stapp was elected president of the American Nature Study Society. In 1971, he was involved in planning the First Earth Day. He also was an integral part in drafting the National Environmental Education Act. Dr. Stapp expanded his efforts in environmental education to the international level as he served as an advisor to U.S. government agencies and was appointed the first Director of the Environmental Education Program for the United Nations (UNESCO) in 1971. This program involved 146 nations and led to the first intergovernmental conference in Tbilisi, USSR in 1978.

Dr. Stapp was a founder and the first President of the North American Association for Environmental Education in the mid 1980’s. He also worked with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in Geneva, the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, and a host of other programs and projects in both industrialized and developing nations.

A researcher and author of international renown, Dr. Stapp has participated in workshops, conferences, programs, and sponsored research activities throughout the world. He has spread the word of care and concern for the environment through 22 books and over 200 professional articles. He is in demand throughout the world to work with others in establishing national, international, and cross-cultural programs. Dr. Stapp has received over 80 international and provincial awards for his accomplishments including the President’s Environmental and Conservation Challenge Award in 1992, and being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.