Program Development

131 FW 2
FWM Number
Originating Office
Division of Facilities and Operations (NCTC)

2.1 Purpose. This chapter provides guidance for establishing environmental education programs within the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

2.2 Objectives. The objectives of environmental education program development are:

A. To establish procedures that will aid in the initiation of environmental education programs and will assist with the enhancement of existing efforts.

B. To promote a useful, goal-driven strategy for development and/or revitalization of environmental education programs.

C. To ensure that Service environmental education programs support and help meet resource management goals.

D. To ensure that evaluation is considered an integral part of Service education efforts and is developed and applied as a necessary component of all programs.

2.3 Program Planning/Development.

A. Management Level. Environmental education is an effective and inexpensive tool for solving many resource management problems. Accordingly, managers at all levels must examine their assigned program areas for situations and issues that may be addressed, solved, or otherwise served through environmental education efforts. Identification of existing resources including funds, staff, and expertise necessary to implement environmental education programs, must also be identified. When resources are not sufficiently available, managers must develop creative strategies for incorporating environmental education.

B. Field Station Level.

(1) Site-specific environmental education programs must be reflective of Service resource priorities and objectives and should be tailored to local education needs. These concerns will provide the basis for program development. At the field station level, program planning should include information gathering and the subsequent creation of an information base. This information can be used to compare Service issues and priorities to the educational needs of students and teachers.

     (a) Contacts with state and district curriculum specialists, as well as local school administrators, should be made to gather information on ways the Service and schools may work together to increase student awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of fish and wildlife resources. The intent of this work is to focus on building stewardship and motivating students to become informed, active decision-makers so that fish and wildlife resources will be enhanced.

     (b) Information should also be gathered relative to school and class enrollment, historical use of Service sites, transportation capabilities, school limitations, interest level, and needs as defined by the school district's program of study. This information should be compared to Service resource priorities and objectives to see whether or not a mutually beneficial program of environmental education may be developed. Environmental education planning should always complement and support site management plans.

(2) A decision to initiate an environmental education program (and accompanying educational materials) requires that attention be directed toward the following critical questions:

     (a) What is the objective of the program? What message is to be conveyed, what environmental or management issues or themes need to be addressed, and what will be the resultant impact on the resource?

     (b) What are the target audiences? What are other potential audiences? Evaluate the potential audience's level of interest and need.

     (c) How can the program lead to resolution of the environmental or management concern? What action(s) will the program encourage on the part of the audience?

     (d) What is the intended program outcome? Evaluate the potential outcome for the field station, the Service, the learner (audience), and the resource.

     (e) What strategies will effectively communicate the program's information? What types of activities will be implemented? What supporting materials will be developed?

     (f) How will the program be implemented? Does the field station have the ability, in terms of funding and staff (including volunteers), to provide this program/site/service? Will other Service programs be involved? -- how?

     (g) How will the program be evaluated, in terms of the following: Did the program accomplish the stated objective(s) and were knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and skills positively influenced?

(3) In conjunction with this phase of program planning and development, goals and objectives will be established, themes developed, audiences and desired outcomes identified, strategies developed, and evaluation tools prepared. Planning and program development go hand-in-hand and require that adequate time be devoted to information gathering and analysis prior to initiation of new program efforts.

2.4 Implementation.

A. All field stations and offices will undertake some level of environmental education activity, as warranted by population, need, access (opportunities for interaction), resource management issues, and available resources.

B. Each field station and office will establish priorities for environmental education in accordance with higher level objectives and mandates. Priorities should be based on the field station's objectives, its location and setting (such as urban corridor or remote area), local demographics (including needs and interests of the population), and funding. These priorities will determine the activity level (minimum, standard, or optimum, as below) for that field station or office.

(1) Minimum Activity Level. The minimum level of activity is defined as a focus on cooperative education efforts with local agencies and groups and support for on-going environmental education efforts in the community. Stations and offices with less than 60 percent of one permanent full time employee's (PFTE) time devoted to public use activities (including environmental education) are usually considered to be at the minimum level. Examples of activities include:

     (a) Presenting a session or otherwise participating in a teacher workshop organized by another agency.

     (b) Development of a resource center for use by local educators. Such a center may include natural resource books, lesson plans, teacher guides, educational videos, informational leaflets, calendars of events, contact lists, and basic field equipment available for loan.

     (c) Environmental study areas may be designated particularly if there is a specific need to control and focus use or to highlight exemplary sites.

     (d) Educational assistance, particularly as it relates to program development, should be provided to local educators. This assistance often takes place within the community at local schools.

(2) Standard Activity Level. The standard level should include all items covered under the minimum level as well as increased focus on developing workshops for teachers and other environmental leaders, and preparing educational materials directed toward local resource issues. Stations and offices with at least 60 percent of one PFTE time devoted to public use activities (including environmental education) are usually considered to be at the standard level. Activities include:

     (a) Conducting teacher training that focuses on ecological concepts and educational field strategies. Workshops should offer educators opportunities to practice hands-on activities to be used with students, and present an occasion for them to become acquainted with the facility -- a tool for increased and improved use of the site by school groups.

     (b) Development of site-specific or issue-specific environmental education materials. These materials will promote the use of environmental education as a means of solving resource management problems.

     (c) Pursuit of an increased role in the area of offsite educational assistance. This is particularly true of non-land-based offices who must rely heavily on this kind of involvement to promote environmental education and to increase understanding about the work of the Service.

(3) Optimum Activity Level. Optimum level field stations and offices will provide the full range of programming identified under the standard level, and will institute a full range of involvement in education activities, as below. Field stations and offices with special mandates for providing environmental education or those with one or more PFTE time devoted to public use activities are considered capable of reaching the optimum level. At the optimum level, environmental education programs will address complex national issues and resource problems as well as local issues. Staff at these stations and offices may also be called upon to assist with other Service educational efforts. In addition to the standard level activities, optimum level involvement should include as much of the following as feasible:

     (a) Becoming more heavily involved in training programs for educators, offering more frequent training opportunities on a wide variety of topics;

     (b) Actively seeking interagency cooperation to provide a comprehensive program of environmental education;

     (c) Providing special events and symposia that will appeal to a wide variety of teachers and educational leaders;

     (d) Participating and/or coordinating with the NETC in the development of Servicewide curricula and instructional materials.

     (e) Emphasizing support for and involvement in research studies that deal with education and resource issues.

C. In addition, in order to effectively implement environmental education programs, appropriate training of Service staff must be provided (see paragraph 2.6); study areas, facilities, and equipment materials should be available; effective site management provided (see chapter 3); and teacher workshops conducted and materials made available or developed (see chapter 4.)

2.5. Evaluation.

A. General.

(1) Measurement of program effectiveness provides a meaningful tool for ongoing improvement of Service environmental education programs. To be most effective, evaluation should be both formative--"up front, in progress"--and summative--"after the fact." Effective evaluation provides insight into whether or not program resources (including funds and staffing) are being effectively used. Formative evaluation helps program developers focus on desired results. It requires the incorporation of techniques that will positively influence outcomes. Summative evaluation helps measure final outcomes and assists in determining whether or not the program and learner objectives were actually achieved.

(2) Within the Service, evaluation must also be tied to Service priorities, operating objectives, and the allocation of funding and staffing resources. Evaluation instruments measure program effectiveness in terms of what the target audience learns, including fact and concept retention, attitude formation, and action-orientation.

B. Annual Review. NETC will develop criteria for and chair a team of education specialists to review the environmental education program of one Region each year. NETC will coordinate with Regional Environmental Education Coordinators in developing the criteria for these reviews. The team will meet with the Regional Environmental Education Coordinator in conducting the review and may visit one or more highlighted field sites at that time. The reviews will foster continual improvement in public service and will assist management in implementing environmental education as a useful tool for solving resource problems. After review and comment by the Regional Office, NETC will prepare an evaluation report for transmittal by the Director to the Regional Director as a result of the review, and the Regional Director will be responsible for follow-up efforts, as needed.

2.6 Training.

A. Service Employees.

(1) Training of Service employees (including volunteers) in the area of environmental education is a necessity if programs are to be well planned and delivered, and effective in terms of increasing public awareness, knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of fish and wildlife resource issues. Training must focus on the mechanics of program planning, development, implementation, and evaluation and be appropriate for both land-based and non-land-based Service personnel. Elements and benefits of effective environmental education programs must be understood as well as required skills, methods and techniques, materials development, child and social development, aspects of working with teachers, and field trip preparation.

(2) Recurrent in-service training opportunities will allow Service employees to keep pace with current trends and standards in environmental education. This is intended to provide employees with skills, knowledge, and current techniques that will enhance Service educational endeavors. NETC will be responsible to develop training courses to meet specific Service needs, and to recommend or approve courses developed by private vendors. Regional-level Service training should be coordinated with NETC.

B. Teachers. Due to the multiplier effect, teacher training is a Service priority. One training workshop may prepare each of 25 teachers to work with at least one class of 30 students each school year, and can be used with more students in subsequent years. This approach is valuable as an efficient means of ultimately reaching greater numbers of students. See 131 FW 4.5.