Extension > Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Education > Archives > September 2011 Archives

September 2011 Archives

Summer is ending. The 2011 research teams involved in our Driven to Discover project are wrapping up their environmental monitoring and inquiry projects. Many of the youth members of these teams will participate in our annual Research Summit to describe the results of their scientific studies.

Deep in the winter and long before these students started their work, however, a few of our project team members delivered a web-based project orientation/training for staff at the Conserve School. You can learn more about this training on the Conserve School blog.

Conserve School served as a pilot site for the project Phase 2 - teacher/volunteer-led research teams with remote scientific support from our project team. Starting next year, the Driven to Discover team will train more adult leaders to lead similar programs. The experiences of Conserve School staff will help us improve training and support for our new adult leaders.

The Science for Citizens blog is a wonderful feature of the website scienceforcitizens.net. The blog today posted a list of 10 science project ideas to "keep young minds entertained as well as enlightened" as Autumn falls. They have included a wonderful group of opportunities, from the World Water Monitoring Day to gps marking and tracking the erosion of gravestones. All will do a good job of involving youth in scientific exploration and conservation.

Helping citizens explore, teach and conserve Minnesota's natural environment are primary goals of Environmental Science Education programming. One of the chief ways that we accomplish these goals is through engaging adults and youth in citizen science. For example, our Driven to Discover project supports youth researchers in developing/answering their own scientific questions through involvement on citizen science research teams.

Extension is hiring a new position with the Environmental Science Education Team, working with the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program. See http://goo.gl/uP64S for more detail. The application deadline is Sept 19, 2011.

About the position: Master Naturalist Explorers will address the problem that children are spending increasingly less time outside and, consequently, know less about their environment and world. It responds to the needs identified in Minnesota's 2009 Outdoor Education Legislative Report to increase outdoor learning opportunities for children and to train educators who are often uncomfortable taking youth outside for lessons. It also addresses outcomes outlined in the Minnesota Greenprint to provide increased environmental education opportunities for youth both at school and during play.

The goals of the project are 1) to create a series of outdoor, sequential, earth and life science-based lessons with targeted learning outcomes that address the new MN K-12 Science Standards, 2) to prepare adult volunteers to deliver these lessons in after-school programs for 4th and 5th graders with the aim of improving their performance on the 5th grade Science MCA exams and 3) to establish a permanent program to offer these lessons throughout Minnesota. The weekly lessons will focus on the physical changes in the seasons and their effects on plant and animal life i.e. phenology. These lessons will be divided into three units linked to The Minnesota Weatherguide, a natural history calendar.

The person chosen for this position will join a statewide team of regional and campus-based individuals focused on the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program, which is a joint endeavor of the University of Minnesota Extension and the State of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

This position will be dedicated to developing a new program under the Minnesota Master Naturalist umbrella: Master Naturalist Explorers. This new program will pair current adult Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers with staff in existing after-school programs to offer fun, outdoor, science-based educational opportunities for 4th and 5th graders to learn about the ecology and natural history of their schoolyard, neighborhood, nearby natural areas, and the entire state.