Summer may be drawing to an end and school may be back in session, but don’t let that get you down; this is the ideal time to reach out and collaborate with school groups in your community. Partnering with local schools, colleges, or universities supports Wildlife Habitat Council certifications.
School groups make a great partner for a Corporate Lands for Learning program, but this audience is also a valuable resource for a Wildlife at Work program. Including community groups such as schools provides added support to wildlife project activities in areas where employee involvement, for a number of reasons, might be lacking. Not only do you receive help with the required monitoring and documentation of your wildlife projects, but you offer students in your local community a valuable, hands-on learning experience outside the classroom. Your wildlife habitat is an outdoor laboratory which gives students the opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom in the real world situations, while giving you the opportunity to share the environmental stewardship activities of your company.
School groups can be involved in your Wildlife at Work and/or Corporate Lands for Learning program in many ways, however, including them in the monitoring and documentation aspect of your projects can help ensure you are keeping up with the ongoing activities can provide ample benefits to both parties. So, what are some ways to do this? You can start by looking at the monitoring activities that need to be done in the fall, or should be done in the fall, such as cleaning out song bird nest boxes or monitoring your native plantings or pollinator habitats. You may also want to collect additional data before seasons change, depending on your location. These can include water quality monitoring, species inventories, and invasive species management. Let’s look a little closer at how you might work with school groups to accomplish those activities.
First, teachers need a reason to come out to your site—they need a little incentive. Lucky for you, your wildlife habitat is an outdoor classroom with potential for meeting numerous standards. State standards are concepts, skills, and other benchmarks that students need to know and be able to do. Working with teachers to develop the activities would ensure you provide materials and experience that are tougher to reach in the classroom. Here are some ideas to consider when reaching out to schools in your area.
The above suggestions just brush the surface when it comes to ways your site can reach out to the community to either create, or strengthen partnerships with local schools. Contact your Wildlife Habitat Council Biologists and Education Specialists for technical expertise on monitoring requirements and logs, as well as recommendations that apply to your site’s specific needs.