Non-Formal Certification for Environmental Educators

Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators is offering a three-year professional certification program for informal EE practitioners.

Posted by Alyssa Doster at 07/05/2024

20240515 ee certification doster

Non-Formal Certification for Environmental Educators

Practitioners in many, if not most, professional fields are required to complete some process of extended education to demonstrate competency. Environmental educators have not had access to generally accepted credential programs, potentially resulting in lower pay and less job security.  

The Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators offers the PAEE Non-Formal Certification program to provide an opportunity for environmental educators to increase their career credibility by completing an externally-validated certification. Primarily for non-formal educators - those working at nature centers, parks, early childhood centers, and public land management and conservation agencies - the rigorous program documents and then certifies that an educator possesses the skills and knowledge to be exemplary EE professionals.  

The PAEE Non-Formal Environmental Education Certification Program is based on the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Professional Development of Environmental Educators: Guidelines for Excellence. States whose certification programs have met strict standards and passed an intensive review process by NAAEE to ensure that they comply with the Guidelines for Excellence and EE best practices can be accredited through NAAEE. Successful completion of an NAAEE accredited state certification program allows certification to be recognized nationally, and certification follows educators if they relocate. PAEE’s certification program is currently undergoing the review for national accreditation.  

To be considered for the certification program, those interested must submit a resume and an application detailing their interest and experience in the field, as well as how certification will assist them in their professional goals. Along with this application, a letter of professional support is required. The PAEE certification committee will review the application and make a decision of acceptance within two weeks. Upon acceptance to the program, applicants will submit a $100.00 application fee, and join PAEE ($20-$30/year) if not already a member.  

This program is largely self-guided, with committee oversight. Successful applicants will have three years to complete the certification requirements. A work portfolio will include two programs: a core environmental education education work sample and an alternate demographic experience. Also included in the portfolio must be a supervisor’s evaluation of the alternative demographic experience. Applicants must also complete the Diversity, Foundations, and Safety Self-Guided Assessment to provide evidence of their knowledge of these areas. Completion of a 2-4 year degree in an environmental field, or equivalent work/volunteer experience is also required. 

Within three years of acceptance to the program, applicants must attend two professional conferences and take online or in-person CEU courses of at least three hours each for a total of nine hours of instruction. Before completion of the program, applicants must pass an Environmental Literacy test. 

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Please contact Stacey Widenhofer at with any questions.