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Introduction, Conservation Core Concepts and Benchmarks
A Project of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ North American Conservation Education Strategy Funded by a Multistate Grant of the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program November 2011
© Frantisek synek / Dreamstime.com
© iowa Department oF natural resources
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (AFWA) North American Conservation Education Strategy (Strategy) is a vital tool for enhancing public understanding and appreciation of fish and wildlife management and shaping long-term conservation and enjoyment of natural resources. The Strategy grew out of a 2004 Summit on Conservation Education. Since then, 47 states and more than a hundred conservation educators have been involved in its design and implementation. This document describes the Strategy background – how it came to be and the resources that have been produced. The Strategy strengthens and unifies the conservation education efforts of AFWA member agencies and partners. The Strategy is supported by rigorously reviewed research-based materials which meet K-12 academic standards and shape students’ environmental literacy, stewardship and outdoor skills. An underlying principle of the Strategy is that conservation education is the underpinning to overall conservation success. It is an effective, dynamic means for the AFWA members and partners to achieve an informed and involved citizenry that: Understands the value of fish and wildlife resources as a public trust, Appreciates that conservation and management of terrestrial and water resources are essential for sustaining fish and wildlife, the outdoor landscape and quality of our lives, Understands and actively participates in the stewardship and support of our natural resources, Understands, accepts and/or lawfully participates in hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, wildlife watching, shooting sports and other types of resource related outdoor recreation, and Understands the need for and actively supports funding for sigh and wildlife conservation. The goals of the Strategy are to: 1. Assist fish and wildlife agencies in speaking with one voice and a unified message; 2. Achieve conservation education excellence through using best practices in education and staying current with education pedagogy; 3. Elevate the value of conservation education both in and out of our agencies; and 4. Build new relationships to maximize partnerships.
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Why is a Conservation Strategy Important? Research shows children who have the opportunity to experience direct, active contact with natural habitats on a regular basis in their formative years are far more likely to grow into adults who will value those environments and make informed decisions to help sustain them. Increased knowledge about the work we do, and the science behind that work, translates into a citizenry that is more likely to support our agencies with dollars, to become involved, and to make informed decisions to help sustain fish and wildlife populations and habitats. There is also the recognition that spending time outdoors helps children be healthier and more successful in school. People who learn outdoor skills—wildlife related recreation—can practice and enjoy those skills throughout their lives. And research shows that students who learn in the context of the environment score higher on standardized tests because they experienced authentic science experiences. Research also tells us that children are more likely to become hunters, anglers or wildlife watchers if they have these experiences at a younger age. This is important to fish and wildlife agencies as these children are the future license and equipment buyers, the funds of which provide two of the mainstays for agency funding. And finally there is the question of who will be the fish, wildlife and conservation biologists of the future. Conservation education prepares our future workforce. Timeline of the Conservation Education Strategy and Materials Development In December 2004, agency directors recognized education plays a major role in the future of sustaining fish and wildlife conservation and signed a resolution acknowledging this concept. This began a series of events that laid the foundation for the development of the Strategy, including the award of a multistate Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, publication of Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods, highlighted the idea of nature deficit disorder, and emphasized the importance of and need for agencies to help reconnect children with nature. At the same time, interest of the formal education sector in environmental literacy and science, technology, engineering and math created conditions ideal for the development of a comprehensive conservation education strategy. Agency directors and educators from agencies and non-governmental organizations began the dialogue that became the North American Conservation Education Strategy at the December 2004 Summit on Conservation Education. The first phase of the project, development of a conservation education concept framework and core concepts, provided the foundation for the rest of the materials. These concepts guide the educational content of conservation education work in state fish and wildlife agencies. The core concepts are the unified messages that all states should be providing their constituents. Many states have adapted the eleven “top” concepts to meet the needs of their agencies and are using them in planning, communications and evaluation.
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With the core concepts as foundation, the stewardship pyramid—moving people from awareness to action and empowerment—became the framework for the Strategy. This framework is delineated in the Stewardship Education Best Practices Planning Guide, developed as a new, stand-alone chapter of the Best Practices Workbook for Boating, Fishing and Aquatic Resources Stewardship. Connecting children with nature is one of the keys to helping create a conservation literate citizen. Members of the Conservation Education Working Group worked closely with the Children and Nature Network (C&NN) and assisted in development of the C&NN Community Action Guide: Building the Children & Nature Movement from the Ground Up. The importance of connecting to the formal education system was recognized early on. Research conducted by the Pacific Education Institute identified the strong connection between the science that fish and wildlife agencies engage in and science process skills education. The research pointed out the need to advocate for field investigations as an essential component of science learning skills. Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Processes was developed to address that need. The manual translates the scientific work of fish and wildlife biologists into processes for teachers to conduct field studies with their students. Another step in the process grew out of a discussion at a meeting of conservation educators in 2008. The work focused on describing the knowledge, skills and attributes a conservation-literate 18-year old and led to materials supporting inclusion of conservation education in the formal K-12 education system. Between 2009 and 2011, the Strategy produced eight documents to assist fish and wildlife conservation educator staff with techniques and approaches to working with the K-12 system. These documents ensure that conservation education meets current and future education needs in science, technology, engineering and math, and address the Next Generation Science Standards. Several products document the connections of wildlife-related outdoor skills to health and physical education standards, and developing 21st century living skills. The documents include: K-12 Conservation Education Scope and Sequence: An Educator’s Guide to Sequential Learning about Fish and Wildlife – A set of expectations that describe what students should know and be able to do in three grade bands K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 in the areas of science, social science and health and fitness. The Scope and Sequence translates the conservation concepts into content standards and performance expectations. Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills – The first step in conducting field investigations is learning to observe. This manual helps teachers take their students beyond the classroom and connects students with the natural world to help them learn to read the “book of nature.” Landscape Investigation Guidelines: Challenging K-12 Students to Engage in Social Science Inquiry by Applying Spatial Thinking to Real World Situations – Fish, wildlife and other natural resources are integral parts of our landscapes. This guide provides a model for student investigations of their landscapes in ways that meet K-12 social science and geographic standards.
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Sustainable Tomorrow: A Teachers Guidebook for Applying Systems Thinking to Environmental Education Curricula for Grades 9-12 – This publication shows how to use system concepts to apply systems thinking to environmental education curricula. It uses lessons from Project WILD, Project WET and Project Learning Tree, all commonly used environmental education resources to demonstrate how to apply a systems approach. Schoolyard Biodiversity Educator Guide – This guide provides students the opportunity to earn about the biodiversity in their own schoolyards. Technology for K-12 Field Investigations: Scientist Driven Technology and Practices – This manual describes the technology used by natural resource professionals and available to K-12 students to conduct field investigations, solve problems through stewardship planning and projects and to participate in outdoor recreation. Outdoor Skills Education Handbook: A Guide for Developing and Implementing School-based Outdoor Skills Education – This handbook is designed to help fish and wildlife agencies and NGOs work with schools to deliver outdoor skills through health or physical education courses. It includes everything you need to know about communicating with school administrators, correlating to standards and more. Training in these materials has been provided to conservation educators from around the county. Webinars and self-directed online training tutorials will continue to provide professional development into the future. In addition to creating products, the North American Conservation Education Strategy has provided leadership and developed new partners for fish and wildlife agencies. Conservation Education Strategy committee members have given numerous presentations about the Strategy and its products at natural resources professional conferences such as The Wildlife Society, the American Fisheries Society, and the North American Association for Environmental Education. The AFWA sponsored a symposium with the National Environmental Education Foundation: Conservation and the Environment – Essential Components of the New Science Framework and STEM, which was attended by sixty representatives from more than 30 federal agencies and national organizations. The Symposium focused on using conservation and environmental education to offer real world learning opportunities for engaging students in outdoor science and exploration. One result of the symposium is new partners for connecting fish and wildlife agencies with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiatives. An important part of the Strategy is to also work effectively with NGO partners that provide conservation education skills and education programs. To that end, a meeting was held in February 2012 to share the products of the Strategy and deepen our relationship with partners to maximize the effectiveness of all our work.
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The work of the Conservation Education Strategy has been funded by two, three-year Multistate Conservation Grants of the USFWS Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Program. While the funding for this initiative is winding down, the Strategy is not. Over the course of the Strategy leadership has come from the conservation educator and director community in every part of the country and there is no reason to think that this type of grassroots leadership will not continue. The materials and training options will be moving online for use by current and future conservation educators. The use of electronic tools will be used to keep the conservation educators network operating to work on the goals of the Strategy. Conservation Education professionals are committed to see the momentum continue as we move into the implementation phase as well as have the recognition that there are many areas we still need and want to address including: Continuing to seek new partnerships and relationships with groups and organizations that have common goals to facilitate others’ help in carrying out our messages. Strengthening our adult education efforts for people who are interested in wildlife but may not be our traditional constituents – encouraging their support of our work through a variety of means including citizen science. Creating a one stop shop for teachers and non formal educators to tap into archery, hunting, fishing, kayaking, hiking and other outdoor skill programs. In closing we must always remember that conservation education is not new; it has been recognized as mission critical since the earliest beginnings of fish and wildlife agencies. IT Quinn, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (1927-28) and director of both Virginia and Alabama fish and wildlife agencies, observed: “This whole conservation proposition is 85 percent education and the other 15 percent is whatever you choose to call it.”
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Core Conservation Concepts
These Core Concepts reflect the knowledge, actions and values that further the North American Model and were developed as part of the Conservation Education Strategy. Conservation Education Strategy Mission To unify and strengthen conservation education efforts of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) member agencies and partners in a manner that effectively advances the AFWA Strategic Plan and the North American Model of Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Conservation Education Strategy Vision Conservation Education becomes an effective, dynamic means for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), its members and partners to achieve the AFWA Strategic Plan through an informed and involved citizenry that: I. Appreciates that conservation and management of terrestrial and water resources are essential to sustaining fish and wildlife, the outdoor landscape, and the quality of our lives II. Understands and actively participates in the stewardship and support of our natural resources III. Understands the value of our fish and wildlife resources as a public trust IV. Understands and accepts and/or lawfully participates in hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, wildlife watching, shooting sports, and other types of resource-related outdoor recreation V. Understands and actively supports funding for fish and wildlife conservation
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 725 Washington DC 20001 | 202.624.7890 | www.fishwildlife.org Page 1 of 7
Core Concepts for Conservation Education
I. Appreciates that conservation and management of terrestrial and water resources are essential to sustaining fish and wildlife, the outdoor landscape, and the quality of our lives A. The health and well-being of fish, wildlife, and humans depend on the quality of their environment. 1. All living things depend on habitat that includes adequate and suitably arranged food, water, shelter, and space a. Fish and wildlife numbers and species compositions are constantly changing based on a variety of natural and human-caused conditions b. Loss and degradation of habitat are the greatest problems facing fish and wildlife; therefore, enhancing and protecting habitat is critical to managing and conserving them i. Human changes to the landscape alter fish and wildlife habitat, changing the amount and type available ii. Natural events alter the landscape, changing the amount and type of fish and wildlife habitats available. The effects of these events can be exacerbated by human changes to the landscape iii. Fragmentation of habitats alters fish and wildlife distribution, movement, and composition 2. The carrying capacity of an area determines the size of the population that can exist or will be tolerated there a. Biological carrying capacity is an equilibrium between the availability of habitat and the number of animals of a given species the habitat can support over time b. Cultural carrying capacity is the number and type of a given species that people will tolerate over time c. Carrying capacity is dynamic and can change from season to season and from year to year d. Regulated hunting, fishing, and trapping are important tools for preventing populations of certain species from exceeding the carrying capacity of their habitat
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 725 Washington DC 20001 | 202.624.7890 | www.fishwildlife.org Page 2 of 7
3. Living things tend to reproduce in numbers greater than their habitat can support. The populations are limited by factors such as quantity and quality of food, water, shelter, and space. Other limiting factors may include disease, predation, and climatic conditions a. When a population becomes too large it may damage or destroy its habitat as well as habitat for many other species b. When a population exceeds the carrying capacity for an area, individuals of that population must out-compete others, emigrate, or die 4. Fish and wildlife are present in nearly all areas of the earth. Each ecosystem has characteristic species a. Climate, topography, and habitats influence species diversity b. All living things are connected to each other and their environment i. Plants and animals in ecological systems live in a web of interdependence in which each species contributes to the function of the overall system ii. Energy from the sun is captured by plants and enters the animal world primarily through animals that eat plants iii. Interactions between different fish and wildlife populations include competition, predation, and symbiosis c. Each species occupies a niche within its environment 5. Ecological succession is a process involving continuous replacement of one community by another a. As succession occurs fish and wildlife found in that community will change b. Natural events and human activities affect the rate and direction of succession 6. Species differ in their ability to adapt a. Fish and wildlife are adapted to their environment in ways that enable them to compete and survive b. The more adaptable a species is, the more likely it is to thrive c. Most species that are endangered or threatened in North America became so as a result of natural or human-caused changes in their habitat and their inability to adapt or adjust to such changes
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 725 Washington DC 20001 | 202.624.7890 | www.fishwildlife.org Page 3 of 7
7. Conserving biodiversity is important a. Isolated ecosystems and populations are more vulnerable to environmental change than well connected ecosystems b. Native species are important to the stability of an ecosystem c. Exotic/non-native species introduced into a community can change the dynamics of that community d. Reintroduction of fish or wildlife into its former range may be possible if conditions such as suitable habitat and social acceptance exist 8. Many species are indicators of environmental health B. Fish and wildlife can be conserved and restored through science-based management which considers the needs of humans as well as those of fish and wildlife 1. Fish and wildlife management practices are based on natural, physical, and social sciences 2. Wildlife management practices involve population and habitat inventory and monitoring, research, manipulation of populations, protection and manipulation of habitat, regulation, and education a. Wildlife populations are managed through such practices as regulated hunting, fishing and trapping; artificial propagation; stocking; and transplanting as well as predator and damage control b. Enhancing and protecting healthy habitat are critical to managing and conserving fish and wildlife c. Management of one species may affect other species within the same ecosystem 3. Fish and wildlife management decisions consider biological, economic, social, and political factors 4. Conservation of fish and wildlife habitats provides human health, recreation, aesthetic, and economic benefits
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 725 Washington DC 20001 | 202.624.7890 | www.fishwildlife.org Page 4 of 7
II. Understands and actively participates in the stewardship and support of our natural resources
A. A person's culture affects his or her view and use of fish and wildlife and their habitats 1. People use fish and wildlife resources for food, shelter, clothing, and other products; practices that have continued throughout history 2. Fish and wildlife provide a recreational focus for millions of people in North America B. The distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife provide significant economic benefits C. Everyone impacts fish and wildlife and their habitats and as human populations grow, impacts on natural resources increase 1. Conversion of fish and wildlife habitat for human uses has altered the amount of land and water available for fish, wildlife, and associated recreation 2. Humans are agents in the spread of invasive species and fish and wildlife diseases; and therefore, must take steps to avoid associated problems D. Unlike other organisms, only humans have the capacity and responsibility to consider the effects of their actions on their environment 1. People make decisions collectively and individually each day that directly and indirectly impact fish and wildlife and their habitats 2. Decisions people make relative to fish and wildlife are based on their values, as well as knowledge of and experiences with those resources
III. Understands the value of our fish and wildlife resources as a public trust
A. In North America fish and wildlife are public trust resources managed by governmental agencies 1. Ownership of land does not convey ownership of wildlife 2. Primary responsibility for most fish and wildlife management programs in North America is delegated to governmental agencies a. State, provincial, and tribal fish and wildlife agencies are responsible for managing most fish and wildlife on public and private lands and water within their geographic jurisdictions
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 725 Washington DC 20001 | 202.624.7890 | www.fishwildlife.org Page 5 of 7
i. In Mexico, only the six northern border states have been given authority over resident wildlife. In other parts of Mexico, the federal government maintains jurisdiction over resident wildlife and all inland fisheries b. Federal agencies, in cooperation with state and tribal agencies, are responsible for managing migratory fish and wildlife and federally listed threatened and endangered species, and for regulating wildlife trade. (In Canada, federal provincial and territorial agencies share responsibility for federally listed endangered species) 3. Non-government organizations, businesses, and individuals play important roles as advocates and conservation partners with fish and wildlife agencies 4. Since most wildlife live on private lands, private landowners play an important role in sustaining and improving habitat 5. Many species move across state, provincial, and national boundaries, requiring interstate and international agreements and partnerships to manage these species B. Sustainable natural resources depend on the support of an informed and responsible citizenry C. Regulations are necessary for natural resources conservation 1. The adoption and enforcement of regulations help conserve fish and wildlife resources 2. Regulations allow for sustainable human use of fish and wildlife resources 3. Regulations combat illegal trafficking and exploitation of fish and wildlife resources
IV. Understands and accepts and/or lawfully participates in hunting, fishing, trapping, boating, wildlife watching, shooting sports, and other types of resource-related outdoor recreation
A. Regulated hunting, fishing, and trapping are important tools for managing some wildlife populations and habitats B. Fish and wildlife-based resources provide recreational benefits directly to participants and increase advocacy for conservation C. Responsible users of fish, wildlife, and the outdoors respect the rights and property of others
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 725 Washington DC 20001 | 202.624.7890 | www.fishwildlife.org Page 6 of 7
V. Understands and actively supports funding for fish and wildlife conservation
A. Within the U.S., state fish and wildlife management is funded primarily through hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and through federal excise taxes collected from the sale of hunting, target shooting, and fishing equipment and motor boat fuels 1. Wildlife Restoration—Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson Act ) provides funding in the U.S. for the protection, restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of wildlife habitat, wildlife management research, hunter education, and the distribution of information produced by the projects 2. Sport Fish Restoration—Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (Dingell-Johnson  and Wallop-Breaux amendment ) is a parallel program to Pittman Robertson for management, conservation, restoration of fishery resources, access and boating and aquatic resource education B. Wildlife-based activities, such as hunting, fishing, viewing, and photography provide people with millions of days of outdoor recreation each year and generate billions of dollars for the economy C. The future of fish and wildlife conservation requires additional funding from a broad-based constituency
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NORTH AMERICAN STRATEGY
Benchmarks for Conservation Literacy
ConCepts of learning that
Ecological systems are dependent upon the interactions between living and nonliving systems. Conservation Literacy and Systems
all students should know and be able to do.
Identifies the basic needs of plants and animals. Describes how the basic needs of plants and animals are met. Describes a local ecosystem and identifies its living and nonliving components.
Conservation benChmarks 8th grade
Examines the environmental factors that influence the number and diversity of species in an ecosystem. Examines energy flow through the food web in each ecosystem.
Predicts how a change in an environmental factor can affect diversity of species in an ecosystem. Investigates the health of a local ecosystem by researching, gathering and analyzing the biological, geological, chemical, and physical data of that system. Compares and contrasts how the health and well-being of humans is currently and has historically been dependent on fish, wildlife and/or the natural environment. Conducts a field study that involves collecting and reporting fish and wildlife related data to biologist, community professional, and/or other stakeholders. Writes a personal ethics or stewardship statement related to fish, wildlife, and/or natural resources in their community. Selects and participates in a natural resources conservation action with a local community partner. Examines and analyzes a current event or issue considering potential environmental, economical, social and cultural impacts.
The health and well-being of humans is dependent on fish, wildlife and the natural environment. Conservation Literacy and Systems Science process skills are utilized to conduct fish and wildlife field investigations Conservation Literacy and Systems Demonstrate decision making skills related to fish and wildlife conservation efforts. Civic Participation and Stewardship Volunteer and participate in natural resource-related decision-making opportunities. Civic Participation and Stewardship Human actions impact fish, wildlife and natural resources, and fish, wildlife and natural resources impact humans. Civic Participation and Stewardship
Identifies natural resources that help humans meet their basic needs.
Assesses the importance of the role of fish, wildlife and the natural environment in sustaining human populations.
Conducts a descriptive field study of an outdoor natural area using multiple observation skills.
Conducts a comparative field study involving fish and wildlife and their habitat using multiple observation skills.
Writes 5 rules people should follow when participating in nature-related outdoor activities.
Describes how cultural influences and values affect outdoor ethics, stewardship behavior and wildlife rules and regulations. Works with others to plan and conduct a natural resource conservation action at school.
Participates in a natural resource conservation opportunity at school or in local community.
Identifies examples of the relationship between human activity and fish, wildlife and natural resources.
Explains and gives examples of the interrelationships and interdependencies of humans and natural resources.
Benchmarks for Conservation Literacy
ConCepts of learning that
Citizens have a right and responsibility to be aware of and engaged in fish, wildlife and habitat issues. Civic Participation and Stewardship Outdoor recreational pursuits have many benefits and impacts (such as health, economic, ecological, etc.) Outdoor Participation Identifies nature-related outdoor recreation opportunities for health, fun, challenge, self expression, and/or social interaction. Identifies nature related outdoor activities and their impact on the natural environment. Describes the role of naturerelated outdoor recreation for health, fun, challenge, self expression, and/or social interaction. Describes impacts that naturerelated outdoor recreation activities can have on the local natural environment and community. Demonstrates competency in modified versions in at least one nature-related activity from three of the following categories: aquatics (water-based activities), shooting/ archery, traversing (hiking, tracking, walking, etc.). Sets personal nature-related outdoor recreational activity goals independently to meet needs and interests. Participates cooperatively in nature-related outdoor activities with persons with diverse abilities and backgrounds.
all students should know and be able to do.
Conservation benChmarks 8th grade
Researches and evaluates the consequences of taking or not taking stewardship actions on fish, wildlife and habitat issues.
Analyzes our rights, privileges, responsibilities and opportunities to influence public policy, laws and regulations pertaining to fish, wildlife and natural resources. Creates an individual plan for lifelong nature-related outdoor recreation for health, fun, challenge, self expression, and/or social interaction. Calculates the benefits, costs, and obligations associated with regular participation in naturerelated outdoor recreation beyond the local level. Demonstrates competency in basic and advanced skills in at least one nature-related activity from three of the following categories: canoeing, archery, fishing, shooting, tracking, camping, and hiking. Cultivates interest and strengthens desire to independently maintain an active lifestyle in nature-related outdoor activities. Initiates responsible behavior, functions independently and responsibly, and positively influences the behavior of others while participating in naturerelated outdoor activities.
Identifies how people have specific rights and responsibilities related to fish, wildlife, and habitat in their local community.
Demonstrate competency in motor skills needed to participate in a variety of naturerelated outdoor recreational activities. Outdoor Participation Participate regularly in naturerelated outdoor recreation. Outdoor Participation Exhibit responsible personal and social behavior that respects self and others in nature-related outdoor recreation. Outdoor Participation
Demonstrates mature forms of locomotor and non-locomotor skill combinations used in naturerelated outdoor-activities.
Sets a short-term goal to participate in a nature-related activity and make a plan for achieving it. Understands and follows activityspecific safe practices, rules, procedures and etiquette during nature-related outdoor activities.
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 444 North Capitol Street, NW Suite 725 Washington, DC 20001 202/624-7890
The Benchmarks for Conservation Literacy identify what
students should know and be able to do at the 5th, 8th and 12th grade levels on their way to becoming involved, responsible, conservation-minded citizens. The Benchmarks were developed with input from professional educators in the formal and non-formal sectors. They can be used in program development and as an assessment tool.
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