Project Learning Tree & Project WILD Training

One of the many things that attracted me to the Huron Pines AmeriCorps(HPA) program was the ability for members to expand in areas they wish to improve upon through participating in several training workshops/events/projects across the state. Each member gets to choose two (or more) training events in which they wish to participate in. Essentially, each training is put on by a host site that offers something different to learn. I chose to participate in two trainings, one was the S13/S190 wildland firefighting field day training and the other was the Project Learning Tree(PLT) & Project WILD certification that I completed just this past week (June 13).

The PLT & Project WILD training was held at Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling, MI. The training was hosted by the Traverse City DNR, who is housing a fellow HPA member, Claire Gregory. Claire, her supervisors and the Hartwick Pines interpreter were the instructors for the training.  I decided to attend this training because I am interested in education being the focus of my career, specifically educating regarding our natural resources and how to conserve them. While in college, I came across a quote, by Baba Dioum that influences me to this day: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.” This training encompasses exactly that as it aims to educate young individuals about our natural resources and wildlife. This will hopefully spark an interest in their conservation for future generations.

In attendance for the training were school teachers, HPA members, Shaun Mckeon (MUCC Education Director), DNR staff and many others. We did a fun ice breaker at the beginning, which is always a smart idea when you have individuals who don’t know each other getting together for the first time.  The rest of the morning consisted of taking us through example exercises and games to then interpret and use for ourselves. Claire took us through how to decipher the PLT & Project WILD books. Each book offers a wide range of games, projects and activities, but learning which ones are right for the age group you are trying to target can be found in the index.

After lunch, we ran through several more examples of games and activities, each teaching a different lesson through different curriculums. Throughout the training, the instructors were open to hearing our opinions and open to hearing about similar experiences we might have come across. An example of an activity we did was, every tree for themselves; everyone would pretend like they were a tree that was rooted into the ground, the instructor then walked around spreading different colored chips that represented water, nutrients, and sunlight. The trees (us) that were closest to the chips would survive, whereas those who were not by chips would eventually die. This was a fun activity to scramble for chips while not moving from your spot. In the end, it taught the value of resources and space in which trees need to grow.  This training was very beneficial for an educator who wishes to engage youth in Michigan’s natural resources and wildlife and I learned many skills that I know will help me in my future as an educator.

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