Everybody loves counting down to the last day of school, but who wants to tally the days ‘til summer is over? As parents and kids try to squeeze in as much vacation fun as possible, teachers across the state are already preparing to welcome students back for the new school year. We are here to help!
Whether it’s within the four walls of a traditional classroom, at a kitchen table, or through field trips and programming at an environmental education center or outreach program, it is critical that our future decision-makers, educators, parents, and others learn about the importance of our natural resources. At the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) our mission is to provide leadership, service, and education to protect and conserve Georgia’s forest resources. No matter the grade level or audience, we have resources to help inform, guide, and supplement lesson and activity plans.
Free downloadable lesson plans and a wealth of resources are available. Worksheets for younger (K-5) students can help them discover more about the forest and other related topics. These can be integrated into corresponding lesson plans or used as stand-alone activities. Download the video, “A Tree’s Dream,” and the accompanying lesson plans for grades 3 – 8 to address ways to conserve the earth’s natural resources and protect the environment. Lesson plans follow the 5E Model of Instruction, an approach to designing learning sequences and opportunities that allow learners to engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate the content presented. Lesson plans also correlate with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) , which are K-12 science content standards that outline what students should know and be able to do, given their grade levels. NGSS has been adopted by several states, and though Georgia is not one of them, these standards can be cross-walked with the Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE). “A Tree’s Dream” is one of our many resources developed in partnership with other states across the Southeast.
Career planning tools are also available. “Green Careers” can be integrated into lessons with the interactive booklet, “People of Forestry: Discover Careers in the Forest.” This fun publication is designed for grades 3 – 5 and is aligned with essential knowledge and skills in science and mathematics. Middle and high school students will enjoy Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Make That Paper!” and Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers. There is also a supplemental online quiz to help youth find green job suggestions that fit their personality type. A new PLT resource, Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers is a career resource guide developed in partnership with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). The guide introduces youth to the many jobs in the forest and conservation sector through the lens of Black professionals currently working in the sector. To take those concepts a step further, GFC foresters and rangers are available to speak to your students and share first-hand knowledge and experiences about their careers in forestry.
If you’re seeking a deeper dive, we’ve got tools for that, too. The GFC is a proud sponsor and administrator of PLT in Georgia. PLT is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12. PLT’s materials revolve around hands-on activities that connect children to nature and actively engage them in learning and investigating. PLT offers professional development opportunities and free resources for educators! PLT’s newest guide, Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide, contains 50 activities that are correlated to state standards and can easily be integrated into established curriculums.
Smokey Bear continues to make a big impression on students of all ages. As one of the most recognizable characters in the world, Smokey Bear is available to make personal visits for wildfire prevention education. Smokey also has his own website, smokeybear.com, which provides resources for elementary and middle school educators, and a kid’s corner where they can design a coloring book and more.
These are just a few of the resources you have access to with just a few clicks, but what we offer doesn’t stop there. When available, we can also come to your school or organization to speak with students about forestry and natural resources. Check out our YouTube Channel, GeorgiaTrees, for supplemental video resources – from career-focused videos to educational videos on different forestry and environmental topics. No matter where you are in the state, we have an office near you!
Visit the “Learn & Explore” portion of our website at gatrees.org/learn-explore for more information on programs, resources, PLT, and more.