The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF) launched a new initiative called the Next Generation Outreach with in-classroom instruction that began in January 2019. We have visited schools in Region 8 of the Virginia public school system to bring our natural resource conservation program to their grade schools. Now we are reaching out to Virginia schools beyond our local region.
One of the major components of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF) is helping Virginia’s youth recognize and better understand the reality of the natural environment. With the passing of time, more and more youngsters in America are becoming isolated from the outdoors; and social media and electronic gaming have influenced the next generation to relish a more sedentary lifestyle. Frankly, kids are more interested in electronic game scores than catching grasshoppers and going fishing. And environmental appreciation is so much more than receiving an acceptable grade on mandated science materials. Personal stewardship is the grassroots concept necessary for the survival of planet Earth and is easier developed at a young age when observing the beauty of a monarch butterfly’s caterpillar is still fun! With the world’s population advancing toward seven billion people, it is imperative we utilize our natural resources more wisely. By the time these students reach age 50, it is projected that number will have surpassed nine billion; the maximum number of people this planet can sustain is considered 10 billion. To combat concerns of this nature, the WBWF has developed and implemented a quality program designed to expose boys and girls to the great outdoors for the purpose of opening their eyes to both its fascination and immeasurable value.
Our new initiative combines science with resource conservation and stewardship and bring classroom presentations to students in the region. The program is formulated to teach students about the importance of those elements vital to all life – clean air, pure water, food, shelter, and space, and is purposely designed to parallel mandated science materials (behavioral and physiological adaptations, migration, hibernation, mimicry, camouflage, predator/prey relationships, etc.). In addition, the programs cover agricultural land-use ethics, forestry, wildlife management, wildlife habitat enhancement, as well as plant and animal identification.
America’s wildlife conservation history is covered in order to let youth know why our environment is better today compared to the days before best management practices for forests, cropland and open land were implemented. We are stressing the importance of taking care of forests and finding balance because fulfilling the demand for forest products is dependent on how well forest health and diversity are preserved.
Our educator, Mike Roberts, has many years of experience and is a dynamic speaker. His presentations are captivating, lively and hands-on. Ninety-minute programs will hold students’ attention through the use of a variety of animal calls and quality, life-sized taxidermy. Prior to working for the WBWF, Mike Roberts was the executive director and outreach educator for Return to Nature, Inc. which, from 2000 until 2010, conducted classroom programs for over 300,000 students in Virginia and Indiana with limited visits to seven other surrounding states.
WBWF is seeking sponsors and partners that want to be a part of this program. Interested companies, grantors or individuals may contact our office to talk further about joining our youth outreach initiative by calling 434-476-7038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Partners and sponsors will be acknowledged in our print material, on the trailer graphics, on our website, and at the beginning of each school visit.
The following organizations have partnered with us to bring Next Generation Outreach to schools. We appreciate their support.
Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries
Virginia Forestry Educational Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Jerry Epps Landscape Co.
US Fish and Wildlife Service