Nonprofit Environmental Groups

9, 10, 11, 12

Students research and present on the effectiveness of a modern environmental nonprofit of their choosing. They reflect on their personal commitment to addressing environmental issues financially or with action. 

PrintThree to Five Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify the major environmental issues identified in the environmental movement starting in the 1960s.
  • research and evaluate an environmental organization.
  • draw conclusions and present information to a group.
  • reflect on his or her personal views and commitment to environmental responsibility.
  • Nonprofit Environmental Organization Research Project (see Handout One)
  • Notes on Nonprofit Environmental Groups (see Handout Two)
  • Presentation Grading Rubric (see Handout Three)
  • Research Paper Grading Rubric (see Handout Four)
  • Choosing an Environmental Group to Support (see Handout Five)

 Ask the students to write in their journals (or draw a cartoon, write a poem, create a graphic) about their own personal feelings of responsibility toward the enviornment. What actions do they feel they can (and want to) take given their interests, time, talent, and treasure. 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the students that the modern environmental movement started in the 1960s and involved a larger percentage of the population than earlier conservation efforts and followed the tactics of The Civil Rights Movement and war protests. At that time, awareness of the effects of human behavior on the environment caused more people to take personal responsibility for more issues. Many nonprofit organizations formed with the purpose of addressing needs not met by government, business, and individuals. Ask the students, "Do you believe that you have a personal responsibility to address environmental issues today? Why or why not?" Ask students to write a journal entry about what actions are their own responsibility and what is the responsibility of all people for environmental issues.

  2. You may assign reading about the modern environmental movement, including passages from Rachel Carson's book, A Silent Spring or about specific environmental issues.

  3. Ask students to identify some environmental issues (overpopulation, pollution, sustainability of natural resources, land use, habitat destruction, intensive farming). Discuss whether any earlier environmental issues have been addressed in a satisfactory way/taken off our list of concerns. What are some of the newest environmental concerns that come with new technology (such as leaving phone chargers plugged in or fracking)?

  4. Distribute copies of Nonprofit Environmental Organization Research Project (Handout One) to students and describe the assignment. In groups of four, they will be researching an environmental nonprofit organization. Their final goal is to present the information about the organization, evaluate it, and form an opinion on whether or not they would support this organization monetarily or by volunteering their time. Share the research paper and presentation rubrics (see Handouts Three and Four) with students at this time to reinforce the importance of including all the required items.

  5. Move students into groups of four by interest area. Direct the students to choose an environmental nonprofit to research. Remind students that they must research a nonprofit group. They could choose the Nature Conservancy or Greenpeace, but if any of their members did either of these organizations in the last lesson, they will not be eligible to do so again.

  6. Give students a few days to complete their research, write their research papers, and prepare their presentations.

  7. Students make their presentations to the class. Have students take notes using multiple copies of Notes on Nonprofit Environmental Groups (Handout Two). Grade the presentations using Presentation Grading Rubric (see Handout Three). Grade the research papers using Research Paper Grading Rubric (see Handout Four).

  8. After the presentations are completed, discuss with students how they could apply the skills used in assessing the environmental groups in researching other nonprofits that they might be interested in supporting in the future.

  9. Reflection: Using Choosing an Environmental Group to Support (see Handout Five) have the students choose which of the presented organizations they would choose to support and why.


Students may be assessed on presentations, research papers and on the form they complete selecting an environmental nonprofit organization to support.

Cross Curriculum 

The students may choose to take action to support one of the environmental organizations examined in this lesson. Guide the students to make a plan of action to address a local environmental need. For example, they can raise awareness of the effect on air quality of idling a car, and make a fun campaign telling drivers to turn off their engines if they are idling more than a couple minutes. Or they may organize a work party to clean up an area. Or they may raise money to build a well in Africa. Allow the students to make the plan, following their enthusiasm for the issues and nonprofits studied.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify an example of failure in each sector, and how the other sectors modified their roles in response.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and describe how civil society sector organizations help people nationally and internationally.
    2. 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.
    3. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the community, state or nation, such as petitioning authority, advocating, voting, group problem solving, mock trials or classroom governance and elections.