ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – The Alabama Cooperative Extension System at Alabama A&M University (Alabama Extension at AAMU) received a program award for work in environmental education. The Urban Environmental Science Education Program (UESEP) earned the first Outstanding Youth Education Program Award. This award was bestowed by the Alabama Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (Alabama ANREP).
UESEP is delivered statewide under the direction of Alabama Extension Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources Specialist Karnita Garner. It provides educational strategies to improve environmental awareness and stewardship.
“I am grateful to Alabama ANREP for this award that acknowledges our new youth environmental programs and the outstanding work that urban regional Extension agents are doing,” Garner said. “This award will certainly help to increase program visibility as we continue to educate students about environmental stewardship and prepare them to pursue natural resource management careers.”
As COVID-19 swept across the nation, Alabama Extension staff accessed the Internet to deliver timely educational programs for people of all ages, including youth and educators. The urban forestry, wildlife and natural resources management team was no exception. Three environmental programs that showed great promise included the following:
- Camp Conservation: Exploring Your Future in Forestry
- Camp Conservation for Teachers
- Lend an EAR Story Time Series
Camp Conservation: Exploring Your Future in Forestry
Camp Conservation: Exploring Your Future in Forestry reached approximately 154 participants in grades seven through 12. Youth learned about various aspects of forestry, such as how to identify trees and manage local wildlife and other environmental issues. In addition, students learned about career options, including scholarships and internships with organizations, such as the Alabama Forestry Foundation and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Post-program evaluations revealed increased knowledge of natural resource careers, forestry and wildlife concepts.
Camp Conservation for Teachers
The Camp Conservation for Teachers program reached 241 youth educators in the past year. These teachers learned ways to integrate environmental education into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. They also acquired skills to enhance knowledge and cultivate environmental stewardship among students in their classrooms. More than 90 percent of program participants improved their ability to engage students when teaching environmental topics.
Lend an EAR Story Time Series
The Lend an EAR Story Time Series is a program that brings environmental awareness through reading. It is targeted to children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Its goals are to foster the joy of reading and enhance environmental awareness. Approximately 644 students participated in the program, which offers both an English and Spanish (bilingual) version. The program also features children’s book authors from across the United States.
The Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals is a national association that progresses the interests of working or retired Extension professionals in environmental education and natural resource-related disciplines across the country. Visit the national ANREP website or its Alabama chapter to learn more about the organization.
The UESEP team includes Garner, Mary Dixon, Tyler Mason, Roosevelt Robinson, Allyson Shabel or Kerry Steedley. Contact Garner about implementing UESEP in your country. You can also visit Natural Resources for more information about environmental programs offered by Alabama Extension at AAMU.