What have our AWLS Teachers been up to?
Find out how our AWLS Teachers are bringing the outdoors into their classrooms!
Last year the Lansing SCI chapter sent two local teachers to American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS.)
A quick reminder about what AWLS is. From the SCI Foundation Website:
Established in 1976 with the vision of providing educators with a useful hands-on experience that they can bring home to their classrooms, AWLS has provided an accredited conservation education program for more than 6,000 teachers who reach more than a million students annually and a challenging experience for more than 1,700 high school students.
What are the AWLS Teachers doing now?
We caught up with Kate and Lana recently to see how they have used what they learned in their classrooms. Check it out!
The Big Take Away
- The concrete realization that hunting and fishing licenses are the main funding source for species conservation efforts in the United States.
- Learning the startlingly high number of students who are considered to have Nature Deficit Disorder.
Lana went on to say, “Both of these topics left my progressive mind reeling.”
When asked what stood out the most to her, Kate said, “Prior to attending AWLS in Jackson, Wyoming, I held some big misunderstandings about hunting. I did not see hunting as related to conservation efforts. In fact – and despite the reality that my husband is a hunter – I saw hunting as harsh and “barbaric” in certain regards. Now, I know this is far from the truth. Hunting and fishing are so inherently linked to keeping a balanced ecosystem. If done properly (according to local rules and regulations), hunting and fishing keep species populations in check while providing an excellent source of food for people. I am now a proponent of hunting.”
Both teachers experienced new things while out in Wyoming–which is one of the best things about AWLS. Those teachers can take what they experienced back to their students and get the next generation of hunters and conservationists excited too!
A Better Understanding
Both teachers agreed that they left Wyoming with a greater understanding of the role nature, hunting, and conservation plays in the lives of everyone, including education.
Kate said, “I now see hunting as an important conservation strategy as opposed to a cruel, barbaric practice. Hunting game helps keep our ecosystems in balance and also provides a much more healthy, nutrient-rich food option for people as opposed to highly-processed meat. “
Lana had a very similar experience and said, “The program solidified my tolerance for hunting big game. Knowing that hunters are the only financial support the science of conservation has, was shocking. If people love the outdoors and the animals within, they must allow hunters to harvest. The only other option would be to create new taxes.”
What are they doing now?
Just like attending summer camp as a kid, these teachers form lasting friendships. Last year’s group stays in regular contact with each other.
Kate’s classroom even have pen pals as a result. “The group of educators who attended AWLS have all stayed in touch via a group email. We share with one another if/how we’ve incorporated the NASP program at our school and other ways we’ve applied what we learned during AWLS. We also fondly reminisce about our time at Jackson, WY. One of the 5th grade teachers I met from Pennsylvania and I decided to have our classes become pen pals. Our classes have been writing letters to one another all year long. They love it!”
Lana added that they also created a Facebook group that helps them stay in touch. “We are planning on a reunion-trip to Isle Royale this summer.”
Spreading the Word
Both teachers are also doing a great job spreading the word about AWLS and the opportunity that our chapter provides in helping to fund the experience.
Kate: “I have shared my experience with my staff and anyone who is curious. Every time “outdoor education” comes up in conversation with our staff or other friends, I gush about the AWLS program. I also shared specifics and pictures of my experience in Jackson, WY with friends on Facebook.”
Lana: “I posted and tagged all me teacher-friends about AWLS. I also sent out NASP training dates to all my colleagues”