Conservation in the Classroom: A teacher’s story
By Misti Leitelt, Perry High School
Note: SCI Lansing and other Safari Club chapters sponsor teachers to attend a week long training in Wyoming to learn more about hunting, conservation and ways to bring the outdoors into their classrooms. They can also be certified as archery instructors in order to start an archery program at their school. We are always looking for more teachers to sponsor for this program!
Not many people realize that environmentalists, conservationists, and hunters are all in the same angler’s boat. I know I didn’t realize it until I was allowed the American Wilderness Leadership experience funded by SCI Lansing Area Chapter, SCIF Sables, and other conservation organizations. Dedicating an amazing week in Granite Creek, Wyoming, opened my eyes to information that I did not realize I was blind to and that I would be able to integrate into my everyday lessons.
Did you know that hunters and anglers fund the majority, actually almost all, of the current and past conservation efforts? The purchasing of licenses and equipment help protect, research, and save our natural environment for our future generations. Now that I have learned more about how conservation works and I am more equipped to have thoughtful lessons and discussions, with not only my students and staff but my community. I feel like I can empower more people to be active participants in respecting our flora and fauna; whether it be in our great state of Michigan or a new friend’s home state of Oregon.
American Wilderness Leadership (AWLs) invigorated me and reminded me of how much I enjoy being outside with my own students. As a result of this experience I am now certified to teach archery and Project Wild. These inspired me to come back and rethink how I want to teach and what I want to teach in my special education classrooms. It also has me thinking about how I can integrate some of what I’ve learned into the co-taught classes where I work at Perry High School.
Students learn best when they can connect to what they are being taught. Michigan students need to know what a great state we have and how to conserve it as well as actually experience it firsthand; not just from a book or the computer screen. I will go back to school seeking out students I know that are already interested in hunting and fishing to strongly encourage them to apply for the teen AWLs workshops. In doing this, other students will also become interested. I will be going back into my own classroom and integrating conservation lessons into reading and math as well as getting my class outside more often to experience our natural world.
Archery is taught in the middle and elementary buildings of our district and now that I’m certified to teach archery, I’m sure our district will support it at the high school level. Having a continuum of archery education will increase this generations’ opportunities, knowledge, and ensure their respect for conserving the nature around them. I plan to reach out to conservation clubs/organizations and other businesses to assist me in reaching our youth to have a better grasp on conservation.
Casey, an ecologist, taking a group of teachers on an ecology walk around the beautiful grounds at Granite Creek on the campus of American Wilderness Leadership.