Policy and Responsibilities

131 FW 1
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Facilities and Operations (NCTC)

1.1 Purpose. This chapter provides policy and guidance for environmental education in the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

1.2 Scope. The provisions of Part 131 apply to all Service environmental education efforts and serve as guidance for employees engaged in the development and implementation of such efforts.

1.3 Policy. It is the policy of the Service to advance public awareness, understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of the functions of ecosystems and the benefits of their management for fish, wildlife, and people. Environmental education will be pursued through provision of lands and facilities for onsite study purposes; provision of curriculum and other multi-media materials; assistance to educators (including teacher workshops); partnership development; participation in national and international councils and organizations; and cooperation with groups in the development of offsite programs.

1.4 Objectives. The objectives of environmental education within the Service are as follows:

A. To accomplish resource management goals and to promote an awareness and understanding of the basic ecological foundations for the interrelationships between human activities, natural systems, and the values of these natural systems.

B. To impart information that will result in increased public knowledge of resource management issues and that will promote actions to conserve and protect fish and wildlife resources.

C. To provide study sites, facilities, and active support for educational programs which focus on fish and wildlife resources and environmental problems.

1.5 Authorities. This chapter is established in accordance with:

A. Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a-742j, not including 742 d-l; 70 Stat.1119).

B. National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd-668ee).

1.6 Definitions.

A. Environmental Education. In the Service, environmental education is defined as a process of building knowledge in students. It involves the integration of environmental concepts and concerns into structured educational activities. Ordinarily, environmental education is teacher- or leader-conducted and may or may not utilize Service lands. It is intended to actively involve students or other participants in hands-on activities that promote discovery and fact-finding, encourage the development of problem solving skills, and lead to personal involvement and action. Environmental education should be curriculum based and can provide interdisciplinary opportunities, linking the natural world with subject areas such as math, science, social studies, and language arts. Service environmental education efforts focus on teachers and students from kindergarten through the twelfth grade.

B. Educational Assistance. Educational assistance as it relates to environmental education is defined as making expertise in this area available to schools and teachers, Service entities, other government agencies, private groups, and individuals. This assistance aids educators, groups, and individuals in their efforts to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife resources by providing techniques, planning assistance, and information to educators. This assistance may occur on- or offsite and may include activities such as teacher workshops, seminars on interpretive techniques, curriculum development, participation in environmental education councils and organizations, and evaluation. Direct teaching of students by Service employees is not included within this definition (it is included in 1.6.C., below, and 131 FW 5).

C. Outdoor Classrooms. The use of Service lands or associated resources for structured educational activities. Outdoor classrooms may include activities such as environmental investigations by school groups or Scouts earning conservation merit badges. To be considered part of outdoor classroom activities, all three of the following elements must be present: (1) a focus on the natural environment and the individual's role in it; (2) an activity formally structured within an approved course of study with identified learner outcomes; (3) a hands-on field activity involving Service lands.

1.7 Responsibility.

A. The Director of the National Education and Training Center (NETC), under the guidance of the Deputy Director-Staff, provides Servicewide policy direction to ensure that environmental education programs are meeting Service resource management goals. NETC will seek input from Regional offices as appropriate, in an effort to represent the needs of all Service Regions.

B. Assistant/Regional Directors determine the role of environmental education to meet their resource management goals and ensure the proper management of and implementation of environmental education within program areas at the Washington and Regional levels, respectively. Regional Directors will designate an Environmental Education Coordinator.

C. Regional Environmental Education Coordinators advise their Regional Directors on matters related to environmental education and work closely with Project Leaders and education staff at Regional and field levels to assist in providing quality environmental education opportunities for the public.

D. Project Leaders implement Servicewide policies and directives to provide environmental education opportunities that will increase public knowledge and understanding of, and support for, fish and wildlife resources.

1.8. Technical Support and Review.

A. NETC provides overall facilitation and coordination of Service environmental education activities, facility development, and materials production. NETC staff can provide technical advice to managers and Regional education coordinators concerning environmental education and are available to assist with all phases of development. NETC provides technical assistance as it relates to development of educational materials such as teacher guides, activity packets, exhibits and displays, and audio visuals. NETC staff are also available, as needed, for assistance on projects for field station or local use.

B. NETC is responsible for review of certain products to ensure quality of educational content, to prevent duplication of products among Regions, to ensure consistency with Service mission and National policy direction, and to provide a networking function within the Service, such as sharing educational techniques that can be used Servicewide. In particular, NETC should be contacted at the proposal stage for appropriate coordination and guidance for the following types of education projects (programs, materials, etc.): (1) those that will be used in more than one Region, (2) those with National implications, and (3) all Washington-level programs and materials. Concept proposals and/or draft products should be sent to NETC to achieve this review.

C. Approval for printing activities, exhibits, or media production must be secured through the Office of Public Affairs. All publications, audiovisuals, and exhibits require Departmental approval before funds are expended for development or production. Approval forms (DI-550/Publications, DI-551/Audiovisuals, DI-552/Exhibits), are to be submitted to the Public Affairs Office in Washington for review, certification, and forwarding to the Department for approval consideration. For more information, see 120-121 FW.

D. Completed copies of all educational products and program overviews should be sent to NETC for inclusion in the environmental education library, to be housed at the National Education and Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.