Conservation at a Missouri Teacher’s Conference

By Dana Ripper

This weekend, I was fortunate to attend the Interface conference for the first time.  This is a science and math conference for teachers from all over Missouri, and was one of the largest meetings I have been to in a while.  I was invited by MDC Education Consultant Cynthia Green to co-present a training session for 3rd-5thgrade teachers on how to effectively incorporate birds into the Nature Unleashed curriculum.  Unleashedis one of the four curricula developed by the MDC to replace traditional science courses with ecology and conservation-focused classes for K-12 students.  These MDC Discover Nature Schools curricula meet state and national education standards while providing information tailored to Missouri’s wildlife and habitats.  I have heard that a couple other states are developing similar programs, but the MDC has been at the forefront of this effort for years – we are the first state in the US to have such a progressive science curriculum available. 
 

Some of the MDC’s Discover Nature Schools student guides and teachers’ manuals,
which are free to Missouri teachers.

 While at Interface, I was also able to attend several of the 90-minute training sessions, including “Doing Inquiry through Citizen Science”, “Nature Unfolds for Primary Educators” (where I learned the new K-2 unit launched by MDC), and “The Nature of Missouri Owls”.  The latter two were presented by MDC Education Consultants Jay Barber and Jeff Cantrell, respectively.

I was extremely heartened to see teachers’ engagement in and response to these training sessions that all integrated a conservation ethic with classroom activities.  Yet again, I felt fortunate to live in Missouri where our conservation science opportunities are far more accessible and effectively used by school teachers and other educators.  Only through public education will we be able to conserve our Missouri habitats for the long term.
 For more information on the MDC’s Discover Nature Schools, see: http://mdc.mo.gov/education/discover-nature-schools

MDC Education Consultant Jeff Cantrell of Neosho, Missouri provided a training workshop on Missouri’s owls for teachers interested in incorporating this charismatic group of birds into their lesson plans. 

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