Many students today don’t realize the great impact our actions have on our natural environment. With technology playing such a dominant role in students’ lives, many feel disconnected from nature as they experience much of the world through a screen. This issue is often referred to as “Nature Deficit Disorder” and one way we can combat it is through educating students about nature and the impact they have on our resources with their everyday actions (Source: Natural Habitat Adventures)
“We rely on wilderness not only to inspire and enjoy but also to protect our watersheds, clean the air we breathe, and provide a home for the diverse species that enrich our world.”NRDC.org
We are highlighting the importance of teaching resource conservation because it is a crucial topic that students should be aware of as we face the climate crisis in our midst. Conservation can be defined as
: “the care and protection of the earth so it can persist for future generations through using natural resources responsibly” (Source: Educators 4 Social Change). Today we are focusing on the subdomain of land resource conservation, which focuses on protecting wildlife and untouched land from the “threats of industrial development, commercial exploitation, pollution, and climate change” (Source: Natural Resource Defense Council).
Why Should Students Learn About Land Resource Conservation?
- Students who learn about resource conservation recognize how individual actions affect our larger society and environment
- They develop a greater appreciation for the natural resources used in their daily lives
- They feel more connected to nature and see themselves as having a role in its future
- They learn how to protect the land they live on and its natural resources
What are the Benefits of Teaching Land Resource Conservation?
- Teachers can prepare students to take action as the next generation who will be at the peak of climate change’s effects on our environment
- Teachers can connect the world of technology to the natural environment to engage student’s interest in how our use of a land’s natural resources directly relates to the use of technology
- It can be fun and engaging for students to see local contributions to resource conservation
- Teachers can encourage engagement in resource conservation from students beyond the classroom
What are Environmental Education Programs Doing in Land Resource Conservation?
The Bay Discovery program brings students to the shoreline to gain a deeper understanding of San Francisco Bay, local wetlands, and our rich relationship with them. Save The Bay’s field staff lead students in educational activities that teach about the history and ecology of wetlands, as well as restoration activities that exhibit the positive impact we can have on our environment. After learning about threats such as climate change, pollution, and invasive species, participants engage in activities to restore the shoreline and improve habitat for a healthier, more sustainable San Francisco Bay for now and generations to come.
Through a classroom experience of hatching fish eggs and coordinated activities, students experience first-hand the value of aquatic environments, the balance that must be met to maintain and preserve California’s fisheries and aquatic habitats, and how their personal actions affect these valuable resources. Instructors and their students set up an aquarium in the classroom, receive fish eggs under a special CDFW permit, and observe the fish as they hatch and develop.
Through sustainable farming and hands-on nutrition education, Farm Discovery field trip participants learn how caring for themselves can also support healthy ecosystems, economies, and communities. Farm Discovery field trips (conducted throughout the school year) expand student understanding of environmental issues, farming, and nutrition through experiential activities on a working organic produce farm.
The multiple piece lesson focuses on observing human impacts on the Elkhorn Slough and its watershed and then applying that information to management questions.
Living with the Land allows students to explore human relationships with the natural world from the perspective of Ohlone indigenous knowledge and contrasting western science approaches. By observing the wetland’s past and present, students learn about what wetlands provide and how humans impact this habitat.
Students practice being naturalists by making observations and comparing natural communities and different ecosystems as they go on a 2-mile hike through Pogonip Open Space Preserve. Thinking about nature as a system, physically connecting these ecosystems by walking through them and collecting data to compare them, help students better understand the environment and begin to realize they too are part of natural systems.
Programs span across a variety of topics ranging from marine conservation to desert habitats, giant Sequoias to mysteries of the deep sea, and the snowy caps of the Northern Sierra to the sunny shores of Southern California. In addition to exploring natural resources and science, PORTS offers the opportunity to connect with our cultural and historic resources as well including restored indigenous heritage sites and preserved Gold Rush communities among countless others.
Students spend their days immersed in nature, living and learning alongside their peers. Led in small groups by experienced educators, students engage in scientific principles firsthand, explore ecological concepts, collaborate with their classmates, and apply their learnings in real-time, all while discovering the joy of the outdoors.
Professional Development Programs
California’s Environmental Educator Certification Program (EECP) draws together stewards and educators of the environment into a structured and effective initiative. Certification is a public declaration that a certain individual meets a stringent level of requirements and has a specific set of skills. The EECP enhances the legitimacy of the EE profession by building a uniform foundation in effectively teaching about the environment. Additionally, through participation in the certification program, educators increase their knowledge and skills, expand their professional network, enhance their resumes, and make important connections across the state.
The Environteers.org website and Weekly Update feature and promote all 102 environmental entities in Santa Cruz County. They both publicize environmental education activities and volunteer opportunities with the mission of making it easy to keep informed and in action protecting and restoring our environment. Environteers.org provides the most comprehensive resources for environmental information and action in Santa Cruz County.
Applicable Lesson Plans
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