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P.O. Box 43
Williamsburg, MO 63388

(573) 254-3990

Education News

Prairie Fork to get an Outreach and Education Cooridinator

March 1, 2005

The Prairie Fork Trust has recently approved funding to create an opportunity for an graduate student to develop the Outreach and Education Program at Prairie Fork.

This position is planned to be a cooperative effort between the University of Missouri and Missouri Department of Conservation. The position will be a Graduate Degree project with the University, but will alos work closely with Missouri Department of Conservation staff to develop an Outreach and Educational Plan for Prairie Fork.

One of the objectives of the donation of Prairie Fork CA was to provide educational opportunities to people of all ages, especially children. While PFCA has been used for several educational events including the Conservation Honors program, and occasional programs are available for schools, as yet there is no comprehensive on-site education or school outreach program for the area.

Prairie Fork CA offers a unique opportunity to connect on-the-ground research and natural resource education to school classrooms. Research and restoration being conducted on the site provides invaluable real-world examples to students studying science in the classroom. Classroom lessons on a wide variety of subjects can culminate with hands-on experiences at PFCA. And learning possibilities extend beyond science to language arts, social studies, and other subject areas.

In order for teachers to use PFCA, they need to see how it helps them accomplish their instructional objectives. This project will identify teacher needs, and create lessons, student assessments and background materials that will address those needs. The lessons, assessments and materials will focus on both hands-on activities at PFCA, as well as classroom-based lessons and activities that focus on PFCA resources and research.

In addition to creating lessons and materials, the project includes developing a plan to “market” PFCA education opportunities to mid-Missouri teachers, as well as provide teacher training. The long term success of educational programs at PFCA will depend on two factors: training teachers to conduct their teaching at PFCA and creating a cadre of volunteers to assist with school and other educational programming. The plan created during this project will address those two factors. Teachers will be trained to use the lessons both in their classrooms and at Prairie Fork. In addition, Master Naturalist volunteers will be recruited and trained to assist teachers with educational programming at PFCA.

Finally, the project will identify needs and make recommendations on how to ensure long term success of educational opportunities at Prairie Fork CA. As part of the project, the graduate assistant will look at partnership opportunities with staff and resources at nearby Graham Cave State Park.

This project will result in a comprehensive education plan for PFCA including lesson plans, teacher and student materials, student assessments, onsite activities, pre- and post-visit classroom activities and lessons, and teacher training. The materials will have been tested and evaluated with pilot schools, and a marketing plan will further connect schools in mid-Missouri to the learning opportunities available at Prairie Fork CA, and also at Graham Cave State Park.

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