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Curriculum promotes forest appreciation
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- New educational materials should help young people gain a life-long appreciation for the benefits of forests on society.
Bob Daniels, Extension professor in Mississippi State University's Department of Forestry, chaired the national design team that developed the "Forests of Fun" 4-H curriculum. Foresters, educators, curriculum specialists, county Extension agents and volunteer leaders from around the country contributed to the two-year project. The new national curriculum is the first for forestry since 1979.
"Forests of Fun" publications (see photo) and the supporting Web site provide research-based information and activities to guide volunteer leaders and stimulate youngsters' natural interest in forests. Activity guides combine hands-on experiences and a focus on developing life skills while providing forestry information.
The three youth activity guides are "Follow the Path" for level 1, "Reach for the Canopy" for level 2 and "Explore the Deep Woods" for level 3 learners. The helper's guide and supporting Web site feature educational activities that focus on individual trees, forests, urban forests, forests around the world, forestry careers and management of forest resources.
"The educational materials help youth encounter trees and forests in a way that makes forest attributes personal to them," Daniels said. "Youth can select the activities they wish to do and track their own progress toward completion of the certificate contained in the guides."
A Web site, located at http://www.n4hccs.org, provides additional forestry information to support the activities and gives youth more contacts to study other forestry topics and organizations. The curriculum is available from the 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System through its Web site or from the MSU Extension Service 4-H office.
The 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System, the U.S. Forest Service and the Hardwood Forest Foundation funded the project.