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Shaping the Future: 5 Ways SC Johnson is Supporting Environmental Education for Tomorrow’s Leaders

Over 2.3 billion people worldwide are under the age of 18. According to a study from the University of Bath, almost 60% of their survey respondents between the ages of 16 and 25 said they felt very worried or extremely worried about climate change. This next generation continues to experience the impact of climate change at a rapidly increasing rate, providing validity to their developing fears.  

A child born in 2020 will experience, on average, twice as many wildfires, 2.6 times as many droughts, 2.8 times as many river floods and 6.8 times more heatwaves in their lifetimes as a person born in 1960. Does that leave the next generation feeling little to no hope for their future? 

Fortunately, this younger generation doesn't necessarily feel resigned to this fate. In a New York Times poll, the majority responded with hope and determination when asked about the role young people should play in the fight against climate change. One student’s response encapsulated this sentiment, “Young people should undoubtedly play an extensive role in fighting global warming. We are the embodiment of the future, and our future and our lives will have to pay if things continue how they are going.” 

Many young people have been able to turn their anxieties into innovative ideas addressing today's environmental challenges. Because they are heading toward a future where the consequences could affect their everyday lives, they think about long-term solutions rather than temporary quick fixes. Their innovative ideas hold the potential to reshape our approach to environmental issues, instilling hope for a more sustainable future. 

However, while youth have the thoughts and intentions necessary to create a positive impact, they need more support and resources to develop their ideas on a larger scale. Here are five examples of how SC Johnson is partnering with organizations to support the environmental education of young leaders to empower them and give them the tools to reach their full potential: 

EarthEcho International- Marine Plastics Ambassadors Program, US and Canada 

EarthEcho International collaborates with youth worldwide to provide knowledge and develop tools that drive meaningful environmental action to protect and restore the planet. EarthEcho empowers young people to become leaders in addressing the environmental challenges impacting our communities through education and training. 

For almost three years, SC Johnson has partnered with EarthEcho through multiple initiatives supporting their youth empowerment mission for meaningful environmental action protection. For instance, in 2021, SC Johnson, the Milwaukee Brewers and EarthEcho provided sustainability education to schools throughout Southeast Wisconsin, including ways to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic waste. 

Most recently, in the spring of 2024, EarthEcho and SC Johnson launched a youth ambassador program targeting the plastic pollution crisis in the Great Lakes. The Marine Plastics Ambassadors are a dedicated group of 25 young advocates from Canada and the United States that will develop and execute plastics pollution reduction campaigns and projects in their local communities. To kick-off this program, the ambassadors attended The Blue Paradox, an exhibit on the plastic pollution crisis at the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. 

Ocean Generation- Ocean Academy, UK

Since 2022, SC Johnson and Ocean Generation have worked together to restore a healthy relationship between humanity and the ocean. In order to protect and preserve the earth’s most precious ecosystem, however, Ocean Generation believes young people must first understand just how important the ocean really is. As part of this effort, SC Johnson supported the UK nonprofit in establishing the Ocean Academy, an open-source digital learning hub to educate youth on the importance of protecting the ocean and tackling plastic waste. In the first year of SC Johnson and Ocean Generation’s partnership, the learning hub reached over 2,000 students and introduced more than 250 educators to resources.

Additionally, the partnership initiated the Bringing The Ocean Into The Classroom program, where students become familiar with the many important roles the ocean plays, the impact our everyday decisions can have on the ocean and what can be done in the future to champion change. Ocean Generation has also continued to establish residencies with partners such as museums, aquariums and other non-formal education settings to engage with children beyond the classroom and increase opportunities for access to informal, environmental education

World Wildlife Fund- China  

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and SC Johnson have partnered on the Yangtze Estuary conservation project at the Shanghai Chongming Dongtan (CMDT) Bird Nature Reserve. The project includes topics such as the eco-infrastructure (SC Johnson Hide), biodiversity monitoring, environmental education, ocean plastic prevention and recycling. WWF is working with CMDT Bird Nature Reserve and Fudan University to improve their field monitoring, environment restoration and wetland management system. The conservation project has been nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and has helped to raise awareness of the importance of sustainability among businesses, the public and government. 
SC Johnson Hide, established in 2017 through a partnership with WWF, provides an area for scientists to observe birds of rare species. It also serves as an education center where students can develop their environmental awareness by learning about the importance of protecting the wetlands for migratory birds. 

Additionally, SCJ people volunteer at the site annually to clean up the beach and learn about the impact of ocean plastics and what can be done to mitigate it. The support will also expand the project coverage to Wujiang in Suzhou for more wetland protection. 
Oceanic Society – Critter Scholars Program, US 

Nature has many documented benefits to children’s cognitive, emotional and physical development. Not all children, however, have the same access to natural spaces. Oceanic Society, one of the oldest marine conservation organizations in the United States, has been working to provide these life-changing ocean experiences to underserved students located in the San Francisco Bay area through the Critter Scholars Program. With SC Johnson’s support, participating students and their teachers join Oceanic Society’s outdoor educators aboard the brigantine Matthew Turner, where they experience the ocean, learn about marine science and conservation, the marine food web, career paths in the environmental fields and how to become ocean champions in their communities. 

To accompany the field trip, Ocean Society also provides virtual curricula. These programs were developed with experts from the Marine Mammal Center, NOAA, University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University and other leading Bay Area scientists and educators. These virtual modules and activities are integrated into a comprehensive lesson plan that meets the California Department of Education’s learning standards. In 2023, the Oceanic Society provided this immersive learning experience about ocean conservation to 244 students. 
Earth Rangers, Canada 

Earth Rangers works to transform children’s concerns about the environment into positive, meaningful action. The organization has been educating children and their families about biodiversity, inspiring them to adopt sustainable behaviors and empowering them to become directly involved in protecting animals and their habitats since 2004. Earth Rangers’ programming uses up-to-date science and real-life work conservationists are doing to provide children with a better understanding of how they can be part of the solution. 

SC Johnson partnered with Earth Rangers for both the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years to bring educational programming about today’s most pressing environmental issues to children in the Brantford, Canada, area. Visiting 15 different schools each year, almost 7,000 children experienced an immersive, multimedia experience that included live animals, trivia and plenty of games. 

Earth Rangers also crossed the border to bring their programming to 4th-6th grade students in and around Racine, Wisconsin, through the SC Johnson educational program Kaleidoscope Education Series. Over 1,600 students attended the several sessions offered in person and virtually broadcasted