Program lets students, teachers get WILD

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— Local teachers who participate in Project WILD will be ready to take their students outside to learn about the local environment.

The program, sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, is designed to give teachers increased knowledge of the local environment and create activities that will help students of all ages understand their surroundings.

The project is about "learning what is here and caring and practicing good stewardship," program director Elaine Sturges said.

She said students care more about their environment when they have a good understanding of it.

The first step is educating teachers about the placed-based learning opportunities, Sturges said.

Project WILD activities have been correlated with the Colorado Content Standards and focus on literacy-based activities.

Sturges said teachers attend a lesson about the outdoors in the morning and then are required to create a learning activity they teach to the rest of the participants.

The first basic Project WILD is an aquatic workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. July 31 and Aug. 1 at Yampa River State Park. The project is an interdisciplinary conservation education program that focuses on wildlife, habitat and people's interdependence with the environment.

The Project WILD II, "Bald Eagles, Bears, Elk and Trout," is an advanced course offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7 and 8 at Yampa River State Park to those who have already taken the first Project WILD workshop. Teachers enrolled in this course will have the opportunity to visit the local habitats of bald eagles, elk and trout.

"This one will really touch local issues at the advanced level," Sturges said.

Teachers will also learn in-depth about animals and discover curriculum ideas to use in the classroom.

Sturges said she will often visit a teacher who participated in the Project WILD courses to do a follow-up activity with the teacher and his or her students.

"The teachers like to participate. They are actively engaged in activities they can do with their kids," Sturges said.

Teachers who sign up for the workshop can receive credit for attending. For more information, call Elaine Sturges at 879-3521 or e-mail esturges@springsips.com. The deadline to register is July 15.

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