With most of today’s generation of youth growing up indoors, with a ‘plugged-in’ lifestyle that is largely devoid of exploring the natural world, you have to wonder – how will kids learn about, understand and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources?
Tomorrow’s leaders need to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges – therefore we must prepare today’s youth for the future they will inherit. To grow the next generation of foresters, soil scientists, wildlife ecologists, political leaders, school teachers, researchers – we must get kids ‘unplugged’, outdoors and provide today’s students with the education they will need tomorrow.
The NSFA recognizes the importance of making real investments in the youth of today. In order to make those investments work, our schools need encouragement, resources and time to devote attention to natural resources education. We need to train teachers to incorporate natural resources into their everyday lesson plans and to develop the confidence and skills to take their students outdoors to learn. We also need to bring the resource professionals into the schools to educate and inspire students.
Getting natural resources education into schools and teaching kids about the natural world around them has many benefits:
- Most kids are interested in being outdoors, therefore they are more motivated when they get to work outside- allowing them to become more enthusiastic about learning and perform better academically.
- Natural resources education often encourages students to think critically – questioning, investigating and forming hypotheses, interpreting data, analyzing, developing conclusions and solving problems.
- Natural resources education can be applied to any standard subject matter, but offers students the opportunity to tackle real-world applications instead of fabricated examples from a text book.
- Natural resources education emphasizes cooperative learning, critical thinking, discussion making and hands-on activities. As a result, students develop and practice many leadership skills.
- Traditional education, such as lecturing in a classroom, is not an effective learning mechanism for every student, but when students learn through problem- or project- based approaches, they gain a better understanding about what they are learning.
- By exposing students to natural resources education, they have the opportunity to consider a post-secondary education or career in the field.