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The Division of Forestry is recognized as a state leader in the field of conservation education. Our approach has been based on two general premises: 1) given limited personnel and financial resources, the most efficient means of achieving our goals is to train educators rather than working directly with students; and 2) our forests are part of an interdependent natural system which should not be addressed as an isolated entity. Therefore, while Indiana's forestland is our main focus, our approach considers the management of all natural resources.
Our mission: to facilitate and promote objective education concerning the natural environment and its management. This is accomplished by preparing educators to deliver factual information through effective techniques to the audiences they reach.
Our vision: to have a knowledgeable citizenry responsible for maintaining a healthy environment and thriving economy as a result of our continued investment of time and resources into each generation.
The main thrust toward educator in-service training by the Division of Forestry involves the Project Learning Tree program. Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award- winning environmental education program designed for educators working with students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. Sponsored by the American Forest Foundation and used in 50 states and several foreign countries, PLT provides educators with interdisciplinary instructional activities and lesson plans that can be infused into their existing curricula. Teachers wishing to use PLT materials must attend a training session, where they receive the materials. An average of nearly 1,000 Indiana educators have been trained each year in PLT since 1986.
Teaching outdoors can broaden teaching methods, reinforce concepts introduced in the classroom, and enhance the overall educational experience. Almost any subject area or grade level can be taught using the outdoors as a teaching tool. To better prepare educators to teach using the outdoor environment, we provide assistance to schools in the development of school outdoor laboratories. Special workshops that focus on outdoor lab development and curriculum integration can be arranged through our Forestry Education program. For more information, contact the Division of Forestry at (317) 232-4119 or (317) 234-5143.
Arbor Day in Indiana is celebrated on the last Friday in April. This is another means of introducing young people to the importance of trees. During the winter months, the Division of Forestry sends a letter to all Indiana school principals asking if they would like an Arbor Day tree for their schools. All principals responding will then receive a tree along with instructional materials during the week prior to Arbor Day. A similar offer is also available to allow every third grade student in Indiana to receive a tree seedling.
In 1998 a comprehensive inventory of Indiana's woodlands was conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and the Indiana Division of Forestry. This inventory provided us with a great deal of information about our forest resources, their value, and how they are used and managed. To make this information more accessible and usable to Indiana educators and their students, an interactive website was developed. Geared toward the 4th grade level, this curricular supplement presents the inventory data in an interesting, understandable way, and provides educators with information and lesson ideas that are correlated with state standards in math, language arts, social studies and science. It is easy for students to use and contains additional resources and assessment tools for their teachers. View "Forests of Indiana" curriculum supplement . (Very large file--will take a few minutes to download.)
Finally, we have ventured into the realm of "virtual reality" through CD-ROM technology. "The Central Hardwoods Virtual Forest" CD, developed through a partnership with Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, provides teachers and students with a variety of tools with which to explore a "virtual" forest on computer. This program is intended to better prepare students for a field trip to a real forest by familiarizing them with the use of a dichotomous key, demonstrating techniques of forest plot inventory, providing responses to a multitude of natural resource questions, and introducing many forest management issues. The Central Hardwood Virtual Forest, as well as CDs featuring the boreal, southern pines, and Rocky Mountain forest ecosystems, are currently available through the Division of Forestry. For more information, go to http://www.ecologik.net/.