Forest for Every Classroom Teacher Training

Students in Vermont are learning from the public lands in their communities and helping to care for those lands. They are the lucky kids whose teachers have studied for a year with a professional development program for educators called A Forest for Every Classroom (FFEC). Sometimes these kids study in the forest, where the earth, sky, plants, and animals become their classroom.

Developed by a unique partnership of public land management agencies and nonprofit organizations, FFEC provides resource-based activities for kids, as well as for people of all ages. Sometimes the students learn in the forest, and sometimes they learn in school classrooms and at community centers. All the time, they learn from the public lands and they learn about caring for those public lands. The broad partnership of public and private organizations that supports the program includes the Green Mountain National Forest, Shelburne Farms, the Conservation Study Institute, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Northern Forest Center.

FFEC not only brings the forest to the classroom, but it takes the classroom to the community. The in-service teacher-training program, which is rooted in place-based education theory, uses collaboration to increase the effectiveness of organizations to serve communities, enhance educational outreach, and protect public lands. In a holistic manner, the students and teachers join with the community and the natural resource to improve the environmental, social, and economic health and vitality of the community. FFEC is so much fun for kids, that it boosts their academic achievement. Students who engage with their teachers to study and address relevant local issues gain higher levels of learner engagement. Their participation with the community results in stronger support for education and conservation within the local community. The teachers, kids, and community as a whole renew their sense of value for the spirit of place.

Teachers who participate in FFEC bring new content to their classrooms, discuss new ideas about how to link subjects to the local community through field experience with resource specialists, and receive support in developing and writing a natural resource curriculum to use in their teaching. They also earn graduate credits from an accredited university.

Kids in Montana, New Hampshire, and Texas also have FFEC teachers who know how to turn the forest into a classroom.