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EDUCATION

(Developing a Conservation Education Program)

I have included the first part of this article as part of the newsletters new approach of “How To” as opposed to just read about articles – It is so important that establishments (or of course individuals) become members of associations such as the International Zoo Education Association where this article comes from, because there is so much information and knowledge available for you from professionals all over the world. The complete version of this article can be seen at:

www.izea.net/education/Developing%20a%20Conservation%20Education%20Program.pdf

The purpose of this article is to assist new conservation educators in the process of program development. It offers an overview and a helpful tool to use when designing a new program.

Often, new educators are faced with the daunting task of developing a new conservation education program. Depending on the level of expertise, this may be an easy or problematic task. Without experience, it is hard to know where to begin. This article offers a brief overview and an outline to help you get started.

It is important to understand what it is we want to achieve, so let’s begin with a definition for conservation education. There are many differing definitions but here are two examples:

1) the process of positively influencing people’s knowledge, attitudes, emotions and behaviors about wildlife and wild places through the engagement and involvement of the audience, and/or

2) improve natural resource management by helping people become aware of the value of the natural resource, examining the threats to the well-being of the environment and motivating them to improve environmental management A conservation educator’s role is to facilitate learning through inquiry, discussion, critical-thinking and active problem-solving with the audience.

Conservation educators have the ability to inspire people to learn more about the environment and take action to the world around them based on the decisions they make. In addition to this, leading by example can show an audience how to share this information with friends and family and how to take actions that care for wildlife and the environment.

Your educational approach should encourage environmentally responsible behavior by fostering:

Awareness – a sensitivity to the environment associated problems

Knowledge – an understanding of how the environment functions, how people interact with and depend on the environment, and how environmental problems can be solved

Attitudes – a concern for the environment and the personal motivation and commitment to participate in environmental improvement and protection

Skills – the ability to identify and investigate environmental problems and to contribute to their resolution

Participation – active involvement in working towards the resolution of environmental problems

(United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization – United Nations Environment Programme 1978, 1-7.)

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