Educating the Educator

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2006

Last revision: Feb. 16, 2011

Most Missourians say they want their children to learn about conservation in school, and most teachers say they would like to integrate conservation into the subjects they teach.

Teachers know that students love creative, challenging and fun lessons. What better way to make learning more interesting and effective than with outdoor and interpretive activities, materials and experiences?

The Conservation Department’s educator workshops specialize in providing teachers and group leaders with the knowledge, experience and resources required to infuse a conservation message into subjects they teach.

The workshops immerse teachers and group leaders in the hands-on, real world of the conservation professional. Participants may spend a day at a local conservation area learning the art of timber management or an afternoon on the river learning aquatic studies.

Each year the Department offers educator workshops on a wide variety of topics. Last year’s offerings, for example, included: “Voices from the Ozark Hills,” “Nature Journaling,” “Comparative Ecology: Invaders vs. Natives,” “Animal Adaptations and Behavior” and “Out at Night.”

Throughout each workshop, participants learn the answer to the question every educator dreads: “Why do I need to know this?”

Conservation workshops clearly demonstrate how academic concepts and the real world are connected. Educators can then explain to their students why foresters need to understand weather, and why biologists need a background in math.

The three-day “Voices from the Ozark Hills” workshop, for example, demonstrated how the presence of the Grandin Mill, known as the “Big Mill,” changed the physical and cultural geography of Shannon County.

These are only a few of the many workshops offered. Some workshops are open for statewide enrollment, while others target a specific region, county or school district. Workshops can even be designed to meet a group’s specific needs.

Teachers and leaders of a variety of groups and disciplines are eligible to attend educator workshops. We’ve had physical education, science, art and elementary education teachers at our workshops, as well as Scout leaders and the leaders of Stream Team, 4-H and FFA groups.

As one participant remarked, “The workshop was great fun; the staff was knowledgeable; and I loved how it taught so many interdisciplinary objectives.”

Many workshops are conducted in cooperation with colleges and universities for undergraduate or graduate credit hours. Participants are required to pay the necessary fees to the university for the college credit. Other workshops are free or are offered at a low cost.

For complete information on current educator workshops, visit www.missouriconservation.org/teacher/development.htm or contact a nearby Conservation Department office

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