Working with Educators…an important MWM role

Working with Educators…an important MWM role

Michael C. Bondi, OSU Extension Agent—Forestry, Christmas Trees & Staff Chair; Clackamas County

Most of us probably agree that helping instill sound principles of forestry and natural resource management for the youth in our communities is a critical need.  And, for a whole variety of reasons, this need can often be hard to meet.  First, our public schools are under increasing budget shortfalls that make field trips more and more difficult to schedule.  Second, teachers are more and more constrained with the time they have to devote to “non-required” subject or program time.  Third, teachers often lack the knowledge or confidence to work in natural science subject areas.

Master Woodland Managers can be the perfect link to help be the bridge between the schools, teachers, youth…and, the great outdoors.  Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Start with a plan of action.  Maybe a group of MWMs in a county want to work together to determine where and how to focus.  Or, perhaps you build your own plan for your community.  An education plan—like a forest management plan—is the best place to start for positive results.  Determine your goals and objectives, inventory what you have to work with (number of schools; who knows who; where you might have the best chance of success), build your list of actions (who’s doing what to whom) and develop your timeline.
  • Find out how you can help the school teachers/administrators solve their problems—such as, meeting science benchmarks; local, easy and cheap field trips; hands-on, service learning opportunities; sites for vocational instruction, senior project possibilities, etc.  A couple easy tree farm education examples might be: 1) Plant Identification—what is it, how do you know (using a dichotomous key), why is it important and how is it used?); 2) GPS as a tool for teaching technology, making the connection to managing land, and getting kids around in the forest to see different areas; and 3) Streams and Water—where does it come from, what is a watershed and how do you know when you see one, is this stream healthy and how do you know, and how do we care for the land along the stream?
  • Develop a list of forestry learning experiences that are available in the community such as forest field trip and mill locations, upcoming events and activities, and local resource people (MWMs and professional resource managers) able and willing to help and what assistance can they provide.

Working with teachers and youth can be very rewarding.  But, we have to be organized and able to provide well-planned and meaningful experiences.  Think about how you can set up your property to be a host site for a tour, demonstration or event.  Create an activity that will be fun…while educational.  Each tree farm has its own unique set of opportunities.  Be sure to have adequate facilities for group education—such as, toilets, shelter areas, and safe roads and trails.

Our ultimate goal when working with teachers is to empower them to be self-directed and to embrace using the forest for achieving their educational objectives.  If we can help facilitate this process—and, making it easy will be a big key—we stand a much better chance of success. 

Fall 2010 MWM Gazette