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College Students Learn to Teach High Schoolers


Ambassadors for Conservation Education Rebecca Jarvis (L) and John Peake discuss forest ecology and measurements during a session at Camp Broadstone.

May 15, 2012 – Virginia Tech has partnered with the University of Georgia and Appalachian State University in an innovative program called Ambassadors for Conservation Education. Students in the college’s Communications for Natural Resources course join students from the other universities for a weekend at Appalachian State’s Camp Broadstone, a 55-acre outdoor adventure and retreat center, to learn ways to teach and interest high school students in natural resources and to better communicate with various audiences.

“The program gave us the opportunity to learn how we should interact with kids and how we should learn to respect and get down to our audience’s level to interact with them in the best way possible,” said forestry major Drew Cockram. Guest lecturers, teachers, and natural resources leaders share their personal experiences with the students. “One thing we learned was to improvise,” said wildlife science major Caroline Nepomuceno. “You’ve always got to be on your feet, especially teaching outdoor classes.”

The students were videotaped giving presentations on soil profiles, native tree species, and tree rings. “It was freezing outside and we didn’t think the kids would be motivated, but we were really surprised at what we ended up seeing,” noted wildlife science major Christine Bingham. “I had considered teaching before, but now I know I want to make it a life goal.”

The weekend was divided into group and individual instruction days, giving the participants a more well-rounded experience. “The student I worked with had a lot more technical knowledge than I did, but I took the kids along with me and did more hands-on activities,” explained fisheries science major Jake Whalen.

Professor John Seiler and Associate Professor Carolyn Copenheaver, co-instructors of the Communications for Natural Resources course, participate in the weekend program and coordinate field trips to sites such as Indian Springs State Park and Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, where their undergraduates teach nature topics to high school students. “Our course is designed to help improve the communication and leadership skills of our students,” Seiler said. “We have emphasized a very hands-on approach to learning how to teach, particularly in an outdoor setting.

    CNRE Newsmagazine Spring 2012 Cover

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