How Good Is Your Refuge as an Outdoor Classroom?
About 650,000 students and teachers each year visit national wildlife refuges as model outdoor classrooms for lifelong learning – often with the help of volunteers and Friends organizations. How can we improve environmental education programs to ensure that the next generation will have the skills and motivation to conserve the nation’s environmental resources?
The Refuge System’s draft strategy for environmental education -- stressing the quality of programs over the quantity of participants -- calls for a comprehensive inventory of resources, staff and delivery methods as the first step in transforming more Americans into conservation stewards. The draft strategy, developed by the Conserving the Future Interpretation & Environmental Education implementation team, is open for public comment until June 28.
A focus on grades 3 through 7 is expected to build appreciation for the natural world while environmental education facilities are to be designed with students in mind. Suggested programs include stewardship projects that can be carried into students’ lives. Virtual field trips are recommended to offer learning experiences about remote refuges that people might not be able to visit.
The plan includes a timeline of goals, such as: