Civic Environmentalist: Rachel Carson (12th Grade)

9, 10, 11, 12

Students learn about the impact one woman had on the world and our environment. Rachel Carson's advocacy is an example for them of how they can become civic environmentalists.

PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • demonstrate a knowledge of the concept civic environmentalism.
  • know and understand why Rachel Carson is known as an environmentalist.
  • design a personal plan/role to care for the environment.
  • Student copies handouts:
  • Civic Environmentalism
  • Rachel Carson
  • Action Plan

Draw an outline of a person. By the head, write or draw what you think of your environmental action. By the heart, draw how you feel. By the hands, write what you did. By the feet, write your next steps.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the learners what type of litter they think might be considered the number one, most often found, piece of litter in our environment and record their responses for all to see. Have the learners ‘debate’ their offerings and then inform them that the goal is to come to a consensus as to the top two or three pieces of litter found in our environment. (The top three are: cigarette wrappers/butts, beverage containers, fast food containers/napkins/straws)

  2. Having arrived at a consensus, have the learners share some of their ideas how as a society working together, we might be able to reduce the quantity of this type of litter.

  3. Share with the learners that people who attempt to find these types of solutions are often referred to as civic environmentalists.

  4. Distribute Handout One: Civic Environmentalism. Arrange students in groups of four and have them quickly read and be prepared to summarize their reading for the whole group: Group I – Historic Roots; Group II- Importance; Group III-Ties to the Philanthropic Sector; Group IV- Key Related Ideas. Ask the learners to read and discuss their assigned section of the handout. They should select a reporter to record and share a summary.

  5. Have each group present to the entire class a 1-2 minute summary of their group’s assignment. Discuss the definitions, making sure that the learners understand and can identify the terms and their meaning.

  6. Distribute Handout Two: Rachel Carson and tell the learners to read the information found on this handout.

  7. Assign students to four groups and each group develop a rationale as to whether or not Rachel Carson fits the description of a civic environmentalist and why. Have them decide whether or not her name should be added to the Civic Environmentalists “Important people related to the Topic” found in Handout One complete with rationale.

  8. Have each group make a presentation supporting the group’s stance and rationale. Encourage students to compare and contrast these rationales for strength of presentation.

  9. Individually, have each learner develop an “action plan” (Handout Three) that identifies an environmental problem, the causes for the problem, the goal/solution in dealing with this problem and steps that they are considering taking as they play the role of a “civic environmentalist” during Earth Day. The completed Handout Three for each student can be posted in the room and a class “walk about” done for the students to see each other’s plans.


Learner involvement in class discussion Learner involvement in group work Depth and relevance of the learner’s “action plan.”

Cross Curriculum 

Students develop an “action plan” that identifies an environmental problem, the causes for the problem, the goal/solution in dealing with this problem and steps that they will take as they play the role of a “civic environmentalist."

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
      2. Benchmark HS.9 Analyze a major social issue as a "commons problem" and suggest ways the civil society sector could help to resolve it.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Describe how the common good was served in an historical event as a result of action by a civil society sector organization.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.