Educators and students
Caretaker of our planet is job that should be on everyone’s resume. In order to get that job, you need to build some knowledge about our natural world. And that knowledge starts in school.
Curriculum/Lesson Plans. There are countless ways to teach and learn about the environment, natural resources and civics, but the most meaningful lessons are those that relate directly to our communities, our backyards and our state. Teaching and learning about the perils of polar bears and rainforests is necessary, but so are lessons about threatened and endangered species in Pennsylvania, the state of our forests, the quality of our streams and rivers, and what’s growing in our backyards. Here are some Pennsylvania specific topics that can help with curriculum development and learning.
• Watershed Ed. An educational program for students and teachers in grades 6-12 that promotes classroom and field research, hands-on ecological investigations, networking, partnerships, stewardship and community service in an effort to produce environmentally literate citizens.
• PA Land Choices Curriculum and a collection of activities that guides learners in understanding the forces and choices that shape a community and region. PA Land Choices promotes civic responsibility through place-based education and service-learning. Through its interactive and thoughtful activities, it challenges the learner to become involved in creating the communities of the future and protecting their natural resources.
• Wildfire prevention Lessons and information on the role fire plays in our forests – both good and bad.
• Forestry Penn State-devloped educator resources and youth publications on sustainable forestry, natural resources, water, earth sciences, and wildlife.
• Geology Lesson plans on rich natural history, abundant mineral resources, and varied landscape of Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Geologic Society.
• Bio bullies An invasive species curriculum for Pennsylvania 4th – 8th graders.
• Pa’s Environmental Heritage A history of environmental programs, leaders and key events by the PA Department of Environmental Protection.
• WRCP Publications, documentaries and videos from the Wild Resource Conservation Program.
Programming. Outdoor environmental education programs for school groups, called field learning experiences, are available for preschool through grade 12 at many state parks throughout the state. These activities develop environmental awareness, environmental knowledge and environmental valuing and problem solving skills at the appropriate grade level. Learn more.
Workshops. The Bureau of State Parks regularly offers both credit and non-credit in-service courses through local intermediate units. Graduate credits in environmental education are offered through Penn State and Slippery Rock universities. Workshops are also developed for individual schools and school districts. Workshops are designed to give educators the knowledge and skills necessary to implement environmental education with their students. Check out the current schedule of teacher workshops taking place in state parks and environmental education centers.
Resources. Enhancing the classroom with Pennsylvania-specific posters, publications and kits will expand the students’ learning experiences. See what’s available:
Environmental education centers. Taking students outside the classroom into outdoor learning centers can inspire learning about our natural world. What better a way to learn about Pennsylvania’s environment than actually immersing yourself in it? Trained environmental educators lead programs, events and learning series at these year-round facilities across that state:
Events PA Envirothon. Hundreds of teachers and professionals throughout Pennsylvania guide high school students through this natural resource environmental education program that combines classroom learning and outdoor activities. The exposure to nature and study of human impacts on the natural world provide invaluable lessons for understanding ecosystems and our environment.
Earth Day. Each year on April 22, Earth Day is celebrated throughout the country to emphasize the importance of protecting our planet and its limited resources. Many events on that day, week and month bring focus to environmental issues and present opportunities for people to get involved.
Videos. Videos are a great supplemental tool to teaching and learning and are an expected part of the classroom by today’s youth. In the Emmy-award winning Cosmo’s World, important topics like biodiversity, endangered species, climate change, invasive species and water are investigated by Cosmos the flying squirrel and Terra the river otter.
iConservePA ‘s You Tube channel has short instructional videos on topics like tree pests, invasive species, green camping, tree planting, plus lighthearted series like the Coolidges, a family committed to low-carbon living.
Pathways to Green Schools. Perhaps your school would like to “green” its practices, both inside and outside. The PA Department of Education’s Pathways to Green Schools Program is set up to nurture and recognize those schools that are working to reduce environmental impact and costs; improve the health and wellness of students and staff; and provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
Still have questions? Ask an expert.