WORKING REMOTELY WHILE ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATING YOUR KIDS-WITH CONSERVATION
by Ben Paige
As the American workforce reacts to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are finding ourselves in uncharted territory. Working from home, school, and daycare closures and the uncertainty of life as we know it. In these strange times though, we do know a couple of things. First and foremost is that this will pass. Second, that our love for the outdoors will not die. Third, it is exponentially more difficult to get any work done at home with each repetition of Frozen II blaring in the background.
Here at Powderhook, we decided to put our heads together to give you some resources and tools to help you occupy your kids so that you can get some work done. More importantly, though, we wanted to help you take your kids’ education into your own hands during this time. We want to help you mold a conservation-minded generation and inspire your kids to get outside once this is all over. In addition to the hard work and dedication of their remote teachers, let’s take this rare opportunity to form a syllabus that can teach our kids the lessons of conservation, the importance of wildlife, and maybe—just maybe—that their parents still have something to teach them.
Arizona Game & Fish’s “Learning From Home” boasts an impressive suite of online educational tools for kids that can be done anytime and anywhere. Some can be printed out (or offered as a digital download), while others can be viewed directly online.
The “Focus Wild” issues feature PDFs that can be printed out from the Department’s Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. These lessons cover everything from learning about becoming “Bear Aware”, understanding “Water Adaptations” and introducing your kids to “Aldo Leopold”. Simply print these articles out the night before or load them on a tablet and make sure you have the requisite materials (if any) for the associated activities. We recommend that your student (or student leader) be at a 3rd-grade reading level or higher for these activities.
Arizona Game & Fish also has a “Wild Kids” learning series that features educational worksheet activities organized by grade level. In these lessons, your students can learn about topics such as “Protecting Wildlife(4th-6th Grade)”, “Riparian Habitats(Kindergarten-3rd Grade)” & “Fire Ecology(7th Grade-12th Grade”.
Pennsylvania’s Game Commission has plenty to offer on its education page. One program in particular that stands out is its “Envirothon Program” which offers learning objectives, reference material and learning enhancements geared towards identifying different species of trees. We recommend this course for Junior and Senior high students.
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency hosts several “Fun Links” for kids that are both entertaining and educational. One of our favorites is the “Educational Coloring Book”. These coloring activities, which are easily printed out, allow your younger students to not only color but learn fun conservation-oriented facts. It has the added benefit of giving young children the early practice of animal species identification.
Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources gives you all the tools and some reading materials for your students to set up an in-depth curriculum through their “Learning to Hunt Activity Guide”. This guide will require a bit more preparation on your part as the educator, but it has an extremely fulfilling and knowledge-intensive course load. Some lessons require less preparation than others. We recommend these activities for students that can enjoy reading around topics such as “What Should I do?- Outdoors Ethics”, “Calling a Trophy Tom” and “Navigating Naturally”. Take a moment to browse through some of the lessons to see which ones will work for your schedule, environment and your student’s education level.
New Mexico’s Department of Game & Fish gives you “Discover New Mexico Wildlife Education” which offers a curriculum that is focused on New Mexico wildlife and wildlife management. Don’t worry though, kids from all states can benefit from the coursework. These lessons are intended for upper elementary and middle school grade students. However, if you have a wide age range of kids, a middle or high school-aged student could lead the younger students in the coursework.
Ducks Unlimited’s Greenwing Program offers a very interactive and fun suite of educational tools to help younger students learn all about waterfowl and wetland conservation. Activities include printable coloring exercises that help with species identification, early readers, an interactive feature story, animal jokes, and videos. They also have Educational Games such as “Duck Shooter”, “Jumper Frog”, “Match the Waterfowl” and “Find the Green Wing” which are sure to keep your students entertained (and educated!) for hours.
Pheasants Forever also has a website that’s full of pheasant facts for your students to impress the neighborhood kids with. That is, once we can begin reducing our social distancing practices.
QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association) has an online classroom for those students that are serious about deer hunting and that are looking to take their knowledge of deer, habitat, and hunting to the next level. At the end of these courses, your little deer hunter will probably be able to teach you a thing or two in the deer woods this upcoming season.
Online Hunter Education Courses
Online Hunters Education Courses: You could also take this time to enroll your child in an online hunting education course. Even if you aren’t a hunter yourself, or if your child has already taken a hunter education course (or is planning on it) this is a great idea. It will allow your student to work his or her way through a self-paced, engaging and entertaining course that will occupy them for most of the day. You can also spread it out over several weeks depending on your student’s preference. The following states offer the International Hunter Education Association approved online courses for your student, which has reciprocity throughout the US. Please check your state’s requirements, which may include age restrictions and an in-person field day before the student can earn the certification. Nonetheless, an online hunter education course is a cheap and beneficial educational opportunity for your kids that can be accessed through a simple google search.
Online Boating Safety Courses
Online Boating Education Courses can be another great opportunity to give your students the tools and education they need in water safety. These courses are similar to online hunter education courses in that they are engaging, entertaining, and highly educational. The following links are just a couple of states that offer online boating safety courses. Please make sure you check with your state’s rules and regulations regarding reciprocity and additional course requirements for the certification of your young boater.
- Arizona: https://www.azgfd.com/education/boating/
- Arkansas: https://www.agfc.com/en/education/first-steps-outdoors/boatered/
- Iowa: https://www.iowadnr.gov/things-to-do/boating/boater-education
- Louisiana: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/boater-education
- New Mexico: https://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/fishing/fishing-regulations/boating/ or https://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/spd/
- Pennsylvania: https://www.dcnr.pa.gov/pages/search.aspx or
- Tennessee: https://www.tn.gov/twra/boating/boating-education.html
- Virginia: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/boating/education/requirement/steps-to-requirement/
- Wisconsin: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/boat/
The Powderhook team wishes that you and your family stay safe during these transformative times. We hope that these resources can help you right now, but we know that they will help us in our long-term goal of creating a brighter future where every American can enjoy the outdoors. If COVID-19 is going to teach us anything, let it be an appreciation for one another, public access, and our place in nature. Stay tuned for next week’s article where we will give you some back-yard activities to help keep your kids safe, interested, and passionate about the outdoors!