4.2 Objectives. The objectives of educational assistance are
A. To provide planning assistance, techniques, and technical information to teachers and other professionals involved in environmental education.
B. To foster cooperation and an exchange of ideas between the Service, other government agencies, organizations, private groups, educational institutions, and individuals as it relates to the field of environmental education.
C. To promote the conservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources by sharing Service information and expertise with other groups and individuals.
4.3 Educational Assistance. The Service provides expertise in environmental education to schools and teachers, Service entities, other government agencies, private groups, organizations, and individuals. For the most part this assistance is delivered through teacher workshops and seminars, participation in environmental education councils and task groups, by providing input to curriculum development efforts, and by working directly with special interest groups. Frequently, Service educators and planners are called upon to provide input to outside development efforts. This may include providing comments on facility designs, providing input to selection of outdoor classroom sites, or offering suggestions on environmental education program development. (See also 131 FW 1.6B.)
4.4 Teacher Workshops.
A. General. The Service strongly encourages environmental education training for teachers and strives to provide instruction in the use of curriculum materials and opportunities for hands-on learning at many of its field stations and offices. Workshops focus on preparing teachers for onsite visits to national wildlife refuges and hatcheries and for using their own schoolyards as outdoor classrooms. They also provide teachers with opportunities to participate in wildlife management activities and to better understand basic ecological principles. First and foremost, workshops prepare teachers to educate their students about fish and wildlife resources and management.
B. Credit. Whenever possible, workshops should be offered for credit or at least provide teachers with hours that may be used toward their annual recertification requirements.
C. Topics. A basic orientation workshop to acquaint teachers with Service environmental education opportunities should be available at all Service locations where workshops are offered. In addition, workshops may be developed around themes or special topics of concern to the Service.
D. Materials. During a workshop, teachers should receive materials, particularly Service curricula and supplementary teaching aids, that will assist them in using Service areas as outdoor classrooms. The following items should be included in site-specific workshops:
(2) A description of facilities/study areas, including details about bus parking, restroom facilities, etc.;
(3) Information concerning accessibility of these sites;
(4) General brochures and leaflets;
(5) Copies of special regulations and safety concerns;
(6) Instructional materials (lesson plans, teacher guides, etc.) and list of films, videos, slide/tape programs available for loan;
(7) List of field equipment available for loan;
(8) Phone number and address of the site and name of staff contact(s);
(9) Raindate information;
(10) Teacher evaluation forms;
(11) Rules and regulations.
E. Workshop Planning. When planning a workshop consider the target audience. Will the workshop be geared toward elementary, junior high, or high school teachers? How many teachers may attend, and when will the workshop be held? A combination of evening and weekend workshops may best accommodate a variety of schedules -- preferences vary among school systems. Contact teachers or administrators to select the best time options. Teacher inservice days are also excellent opportunities for hosting a workshop. Attention should be given to selecting an appropriate length of time for workshops, particularly if sessions are held after school. Select a workshop site that will provide shelter in the event of cold or wet weather and that will allow for both indoor [introductory] activities as well as "hands-on" field experiences.
F. Conducting the Workshop. Prior preparation is essential to a well-conducted workshop. All materials and equipment should be in order, the workshop should start on schedule, and ample time must be given for introductions. Review the agenda, and solicit feedback from the group. Make changes as appropriate. Information pertaining to the Service mission and to issues of importance to the host station or office should be addressed toward the beginning of the workshop. Teachers should visit study areas that they will use with their students. Identify facilities such as restrooms, parking areas, demonstration sites, and the location of water fountains, etc. that may be of interest to the group. Demonstrate and engage the teachers in activities recommended for student use, and provide copies of the lesson plans for teachers to take with them. Stress that pre- and post-field trip activities should be conducted with the students. Discuss and explain any special procedures such as the need to divide large groups and rotate between sites. Emphasize special regulations and/or expected conduct to be demonstrated by students. Issues related to safety should also be presented. Allow some planning time at the end of the workshop to discuss implementing activities and logistics involved.
G. Evaluation. Before concluding the workshop, ensure that adequate time has been allotted for questions and answers. Reemphasize important points covered during the workshop and encourage all participants to complete an evaluation. Afterwards, evaluations should be reviewed and helpful suggestions incorporated, as appropriate, into future workshops.
4.5 Educational Materials Development.
A. General. Instructional materials include such items as curricula, teacher guides, lesson plans, activity guides, and videos. These materials serve to prepare teachers and students for learning experiences both in the classroom and the schoolyard as well as at Service sites and facilities. Curriculum development is essential to creating quality program experiences for teachers and students. The preparation of curriculum materials by Service employees and outside groups and educators can be time consuming but the benefits to programs far exceeds the effort.
B. Cooperative Efforts. Service education specialists, state and district curriculum specialists, and teachers should work together to plan, write, and test these products. Well prepared materials are focused on issues and target specific audiences, making them especially useful to teachers. Before initiating the development of new materials, research should be conducted to identify existing materials in order to avoid a duplication of effort--many excellent resources have already been prepared within the Service, and by other state and federal agencies, private organizations, and educational institutions. A collective effort in this area will result in the development of quality materials that will meet the needs of educators and their students.
C. Oversight. The National Education and Training Center (NETC) oversees curriculum development within the Service. NETC is available to review or assist Regional Environmental Education Coordinators with instructional design of curriculum materials such as teacher guides, lesson plans, and issue-specific activities. Videos and other audiovisual materials are often developed to support written materials. These educational products must be coordinated with NETC as well as the Office of Public Affairs which oversees media production. (See 131 FW 1 for more information).
4.6 Educational Participation The Service encourages employee involvement in interagency task groups, as working members of professional organizations, and as agency representatives to educational advisory boards and councils. This participation allows the Service to maintain a strong presence within the education community and assists the Service in remaining current in the field. Opportunities to participate in these kinds of environmental education activities should be sought by employees at all levels.