Why Conservation Education Matters
Contact with Nature Helps Kids and Society
Children who are connected to the natural world can positively shape the future. Unfortunately, today's children are disconnected from the outdoors. Recent studies have shown that youth, ages 3 – 12, are spending 27 percent of their time with electronic media and only 1 percent outside. Spending less time outside has been shown to be one factor that leads to a variety of problems, such as attention difficulties, obesity, diminished use of the senses, and disconnection from things that are real.
Most importantly, if children are not connected to the environment, how will they learn about, understand, and take care of it? We know that forests and trees provide clean air, clean water, and wood products we use every day. And water is important for all life on earth. Children need to be engaged in the outdoors and environmental issues to make these connections and to understand the importance of being good stewards of the earth.
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Bringing the Environment into Education
Schools are places where children can learn about the importance of conserving natural resources, and teachers who educate students about complex environmental issues are preparing them to be good stewards for the environment. To help bring these topics into the classroom, several organizations have developed aids for environmental education.
Project Learning Tree and Project WET are two examples that have a tradition of creating effective and engaging lesson plan activities. The Conservation Education program is the state coordinator for these two sets of curriculum, and can provide the training and materials to get you started.
Project Learning Tree
Project WET (Water Education for Teachers)