climate communication & education resources

for naturalists, teachers and community leaders

climate change in chicago graphic

Climate change has local and global impacts.  We are already seeing changes in the climate here in the Chicago region– and we’re seeing changes in natural systems and urban infrastructure, too.

When talking to people about climate change, it’s helpful to talk about familiar, local examples to make it clear that this complex, global issue is really a lot of local issues.

The resources listed below will lead you to exceptional tools for climate communication, education and engagement. The regional resources will help you focus your education and engagement efforts in Chicago and the Great Lakes region.


climate communication resources
climate change is real _ graphic

Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication

The program conducts research and surveys, including the well-regarded Global Warming’s Six Americas project, about public opinion and behavior. They also provides excellent resources for engaging with different audiences about climate change.

George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication

The Center uses social science to guide informed decision-making.  One excellent research project investigates public perception of climate change; look for their report on the Six Americas.

Climate Access

This online network is a forum for sharing resources for community engagement and climate action.


regional climate engagement resources / Chicago & Great Lakes

Several engagement toolkits can help make community connections and develop climate action plans that are based on community assets and concerns in the Chicago region.

Connect! community + climate + action

This toolkit includes tools that help community groups incorporate climate action into their work.  Tools helps communities gather stories, identify assets and take take action on climate change, locally, with a focus on the Great Lakes region.

Climate Action Toolkit from the Field Museum

The Chicago Community Climate Action Toolkit includes climate science and action tools for community engagement. Explore case studies of climate action that is improving residents’ quality of life in four Chicago communities.

Climate Wisconsin

A collection of stories and videos about how people in Wisconsin are affected by climate change.


regional climate education resources / Chicago & Great Lakes

There are many sources of excellent teaching resources; here are two that focus on climate change in the Chicago region and the Great Lakes.

Climate Change Curriculum from the Chicago Botanic Garden

This curriculum for grades 5-12 draws on student-collected data (with Project Budburst) and NASA data to help students understand climate change with personal, local and global context.

Great Lakes Climate Change Curriculum from Ohio State University Sea Grant

The Great Lakes Climate Change Curriculum includes basic climate science and activities that connect climate change to aquatic invasive species, shifting forest communities and the Great Lakes.  Look at the right-hand column of the website for the lessons.


teaching and climate literacy resources

Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science

This framework of principles was developed by NOAA / The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to highlight key concepts that everyone should know about climate change. Available in English and Spanish

Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN)

This professional network supports teachers as they incorporate climate change into their curriculum– by evaluating teaching tools, providing webinars and facilitating networks.

Understanding Climate Change

Published in March 2019 by the National Science Teachers Association, this curriculum for grades 7-12, includes lessons on climate science, data evaluation and climate solutions. Available as a book or pdf. View a sample here.

Climate Generation

They offer lesson plans for grades 3-12, that cross a variety of topics from science, to civics, history, art and more. Available to purchase or to download for free.

Teaching Climate

NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, offers resources for teaching about climate change for a ‘climate-smart nation.’

Climate Change and Human Health Lesson Plans

These lessons for high school and college students were developed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators

This toolkit includes activities, lessons plans and virtual ecoregion tours, mostly developed by federal agencies.

NASA Climate Kids

This site provides educational materials for younger students, providing a foundation in basic earth science. The site includes online games and activities that can be done at home or in the classroom.

more links to excellent lesson plans

NASA’s Global Climate Change program has put together a list of links to teaching tools, many of which are from federal programs and labs.

Next Generation Science Standards, by Topic

This helpful tool breaks down the Next Generation Science Standards by subject and grade level, making it easy to find the relevant standards. It was developed by the National Science Teachers Association.

National Center for Science Education

This non-profit helps to ensure accurate science education, by providing tools for teachers and monitoring state and national educational policy. Find information about teaching evolution and climate change on their site.


climate science reports and resources

guide to scientific reports and data

Find the latest reports and data to incorporate into your teaching and engagement work.


climate action tools and resources

guide to climate action plans and tools

Find resources to help you make plans for climate action at different scales, from your home to the nation and the world.


free (or cheap) school supplies

guide to school & art supplies / Chicago region

There are lots of places that offer free or cheap school supplies and art supplies to teachers and non-profits. Check out this guide to art& school supply exchanges in the Chicago region.


local climate workshops

Climate Clinics for Educators

Climate clinics are full-day workshops that help non-formal and formal educators learn the science of climate change and strategies for teaching climate change in nature centers, schools, and communities.  The focus is on issues and resources in the Chicago Wilderness region (which includes northeastern Illinois, northwestern Indiana and southeastern Wisconsin).

other workshops

Check our events calendar for upcoming workshops.

last updated March 2019