MICHIGAN – This fall, Huron-Manistee National Forests hosted a new conservation event to connect their partners to the education community. This was the first time that USDA Forest Service partners have come together to share with the public what conservation really looks like behind the scenes and supports the Forest Service’s strategic goal of delivering benefits to the public.
“The conservation education event started from an idea we had to thank our partners for all they do,” said Baldwin/White Cloud District Ranger Jake Lubera. “After talking to some partners, it became evident that the best way to say ‘thank you’ would be to return the favor by helping them achieve one of their goals - getting into classrooms.”
Ultimately, the event resulted in a stronger conservation community. The partners were able to educate the educators through truly engaging conversations about the work they do. Educators can now incorporate the changes students are seeing in their natural environment into the classroom, an important topic in Michigan where wildland urban interface is high, and kids are likely seeing habitat restoration projects without knowing it.
Beyond educating the educators, partners got to engage each other. Representatives from a flower farm, an electric company, and several hunting societies, who donated their time and resources to achieving the same conservation successes, had not met until they were encouraged to share their story with educators.
“Some of our partners had never actually met despite working on a lot of the same projects,” said Lubera. “Not only were they able to get more of their own messages into classrooms, they were able to make connections with people who share their conservation goals.”
Lubera and his team from the Baldwin/White Cloud District organized the entire event. They found a location, worked out the logistics, and then set to inviting as many educators and future conservationists as possible. Partners needed only to show up ready to talk about why they do what they do for the forests.
After a lot of positive feedback from partners, Lubera is considering hosting an annual conservation education day.