Environmental Mission and Action

9, 10, 11, 12

The learners define philanthropy and relate it to environmental stewardship. They compare mission statements from environmental organizations and write their own personal mission statement. They self-select a group to work with to plan and implement an environmental service project.

PrintOne 45-Minute Session and additional time to plan, implement, and reflect on service.

The learners will:

  • define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure for the common good.
  • identify the elements of nonprofit mission statements.
  • explore their own personal giving purpose.

philanthropy: giving time, talent, and treasure for the common good


As we look around our community are there any “gradual” changes that have occurred that started out not being a problem but have now become one? 


  1. Anticipatory Set

    Define philanthropy as giving time, talent, or treasure and taking action for the common good. Discuss examples of ways they and their families are generous and take action that helps people or places. 

  2. Watch these videos made by a young person about Living Philanthropically with our time, talent, or treasure. The link provides discussion questions about things we can do. 

  3. Remind them of the definition of environmental stewardship learned in the previous lesson. When someone acts for the good of the shared environment, they are taking action with their time talent, or treasure as a philanthropist.

  4. Introduce them to local nonprofits that have a mission related to environmental stewardship. They may be organizations like Land Conservancy, nature centers, animal welfare, or cleanup. We can learn about the work of nonprofit organizations through their mission statement. Define a mission statement as “a concise statement of personal belief and purpose that defines goals and sets direction.” The mission statement will usually answer the following questions: Who are we, who do we serve, what do we do, and how will we do it?

    While businesses have a purpose to make profits, nonprofits have a purpose to fulfill a mission. 

    Go to their websites and read their mission statements to understand what they do and why. Discuss and encourage the youth to identify the elements of their work that fits what they care about. 

  5. Just as businesses or organizations have mission statements, individuals may also have personal mission statements. Have youth write a personal mission statement about their own environmental stewardship.

  6. Challenge youth to write a personal mission statement in 25 words or less that expresses their personal beliefs about their responsibility to the environment. Have youth write drafts and meet with others for peer review and editing until they have concise statements using correct spelling, acceptable grammar mechanics, and legibility. The mission statement should clearly and accurately define:

    • Who am I?
    • Who will I serve?
    • What will I do?
    • How will I do it?
  7. When youth are ready to share, have them post their mission statements around the room (with or without names on them). Have youth walk around the room and read each others’ statements. Ask that they bring a notepad to take notes on wording or comments that inspire them.

  8. Youth with common interests may develop a plan to take personal action and to advocate for the responsible use of the Earth’s resources. Guide them to develop a realistic plan of action, carry out the plan, and document the impact.

Cross Curriculum 

The students are encouraged to take personal action and to advocate for the responsible use of the Earth’s water resources. Allow them to choose a service project based on their interests.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and contrast enlightened self-interest, egoism, and altruism as they relate to philanthropy and principles of democracy.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
    4. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.