Local teachers can gain nature education through workshop

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— Local early childhood teachers have an opportunity to be students for a day.

Project WILD, a nature education program sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife, is sponsoring a full-day workshop March 15 for teachers in the Yampa Valley.

The workshop will give preschool through third-grade teachers some tips on how to teach children about wildlife and the environment.

"It's really active, and it's really fun," said Elaine Sturges, an early childhood and conservation education specialist.

Sturges hopes to send participants home with several hands-on activities they can share with their students. The class provides materials, children's books and songs that complement the suggested activities.

The activities have already been kid-tested.

"The learning materials have been tried out with kids, and the kids really love them," Sturges said.

Project WILD, which began in the 1980s, has become a national and international program that educates people about wildlife and their interdependence with the natural world.

Sturges conducts workshops for teachers throughout the state. It has been three or four years since she held a workshop in the Yampa Valley.

She encourages people who work with children ages 3 to 8 to consider attending the workshop. Teachers will learn how to present such activities as "What Bear Goes Where," a hands-on lesson about bear habitats. Students construct dens for a polar bear, a black bear and a grizzly bear. Another activity called "Tracks" gives students an opportunity to match, classify and make animal tracks with replicas of wild animal's feet.

"Teachers are looking for things they can really use for their kids," she said. "These really do work."

The workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Yampa River State Park, one mile west of Hayden on U.S. Highway 40.

The Early Childhood Center in Craig will provide lunch and snacks. The center will reimburse Moffat County teachers' $10 registration fee. Early childhood teachers in Routt County can call Renee Donahue of First Impressions at 870-5270 to apply for a scholarship to cover their registration fee.

Space is limited. The registration deadline is March 8.

Teachers who need college credit may sign up for a half credit hour through Adams State College at the workshop.

The Yampa River Early Childhood Project WILD Workshop is funded and supported by the Chevron Texaco Foundation, Colorado Division of Wildlife, The Early Childhood Center and Yampa River State Park.

For more information, call Sturges at 879-3521 or e-mail esturges@springsips.com.

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