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Students get "wild" in environmental education workshop

December 12, 2014

KOKOMO, Ind. — Arielle Castanon plans to get a little wild in her classroom as a student teacher.

She was among a dozen Indiana University Kokomo education students participating in a recent “Project Wild” workshop, learning ways she can incorporate wildlife, conservation, and environmentalism into her classroom.

“I learned a lot about Indiana’s wildlife, and learned ways to teach that allows kids to interact with the lesson, not just read or hear about it,” said Castanon, from Marion. “It was a great opportunity to learns hands-on ways of teaching children about the environment, and being responsible with our resources.”

Julie Saam, associate professor of education, leads the workshops each year, giving future teachers tools to incorporate wildlife topics not only into science classes, but math, language arts, reading, and others.

Each student who completes the six-hour training receives a curriculum guide with hundreds of experiments and activities, linked to state standards.

“This is a great tool for teachers, especially those just starting out in their careers,” said Saam. “It helps them understand the importance of learning about and protecting our environment, and how to share that with students. These are resources we all share and interact with on a daily basis.”

The workshop was all hands-on, with activities including building birds, planning a short lesson, and playing a game of Muskox Maneuvers, a game that allows students to simulate being predator and prey.

Callie Reecer, Frankfort, appreciated learning about resources available to her as a teacher from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and also liked that the materials are linked to state standards.

“I like that this is interdisciplinary, so it includes language arts, and physical activity,” she said. “I think students would enjoy this and learn from it.”

Heidi Goff knows that funding for field trips is not always there, and appreciates knowing how to teach these lessons without having to leave the school.

“It’s giving me a lot of ideas to include animals and the environment in my classroom,” said Heidi Goff, Kokomo. “It shows us ways we can do that in our own classrooms, without having to take a field trip.”

Project Wild is administered by the Council for Environmental Education and co-sponsored by the Western Association of Fish/Wildlife Agencies.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 12/31/2014