Note to editors: A comprehensive report on the survey’s findings is attached. Environmental Survey
Environmental Survey in PDF
The Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC) has released its second statewide survey of Kentuckians’ environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors to Kentucky legislators and policymakers. Results were mixed. Interest in the environment scored high, but knowledge about the environment and pollution scores were much lower.
“This report shows the importance of teaching our citizens about the environment. It points to specific areas in which we need to focus our educational efforts,” stated Virginia G. Fox, secretary of the Kentucky Education Cabinet.
“One of the most important tools we have to protect the environment is an educated citizenry. This study provides a baseline of data that will help make decisions on where Kentucky’s educational efforts need to be focused to help improve and protect the environment,” commented LaJuana S. Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.
“The survey is a snapshot of whether Kentuckians can answer some very basic questions about issues that deal with air, land and water quality. It also asks Kentuckians to share their attitudes about certain environmental issues, such as how well we are protecting our natural resources,” said Jane Eller, executive director of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council.
“It also asked Kentuckians whether or not they engage in behaviors that might improve their environment. Kentuckians scores were mixed. In some cases, over half of respondents were not able to give correct answers to very basic questions. This is valuable information that helps our agency and educators throughout the state determine where to focus our efforts. For example, after the 1999 survey identified the same gaps in knowledge about water pollution, a coalition of twenty state and federal agencies, universities and private organizations designed a program to improve adult knowledge of water quality.
The coalition applied for and received a $1.2 million grant to implement the project and it will kick off late this summer with a KET produced documentary about water quality in Kentucky," Eller continued.
Major findings from the survey:
· Water quality is the number one environmental concern among Kentuckians who identified a specific issue.
· Only 17 percent of those surveyed can correctly identify runoff as the leading source of water pollution in Kentucky.
· Ninety-seven percent of Kentuckians believe environmental education should be taught in the schools. Eighty-eight percent agree that the state should put more resources into teaching people about the environment.
· Less than half of those surveyed know that coal is the number one source of electricity generation in the U.S.
· Forty-one percent of Kentuckians incorrectly identify coal, oil and iron as renewable resources.
· More than half of those surveyed think the environment is adequately protected.
· Kentuckians are evenly split on whether or not landowners should be able to use their land as they see fit.
· Men score higher than women on questions related to environmental knowledge, but women are generally more concerned about the environment.
· People who live in rural areas rate their air quality higher than those who live in cities but the reverse is true of water quality.
· Although higher levels of education correlated with more correct answers on the knowledge section of the survey, that increased knowledge did not necessarily translate into differences in attitudes or behaviors.
As one of KEEC’s responsibilities of monitoring and reporting on environmental literacy in Kentucky, they worked with the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center to complete the first survey of environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in 1999 and the second in 2004. The 2004 survey included a random sample of 669 Kentucky adults, administered between September and November 2004.
The KEEC, an agency in the Kentucky Education Cabinet, was established in 1995 to improve Kentuckians’ understanding of the environment. Their mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and skills they need to make their own informed environmental decisions. For more information, contact KEEC Executive Director Jane Eller at (502) 564-5937, or by e-mail, email@example.com .