Delivery of Year 1 of Next Generation Outreach began in Mecklenburg County, Virginia schools on January 8, 2019 and continued in schools throughout the region until the semester ended in May. The 90-minute programs, complete with quality taxidermy that included full-sized animals: black bear, white tailed buck, beaver, coyote, red fox, owl, river otter, and turkey, along with furs, skulls, antlers and calls, were brought into 59 schools. Students in grades 3, 4, and 5 were brought into a large assembly location at the school, accompanied by their teachers, and often principals and visitors, to listen to the exciting presentation by our educator, Mike Roberts. Dispersed throughout the presentations were animal calls such as the barred owl, great-horned owl, wild turkey, and elk to the delight of the listeners.
Feedback from teacher surveys has been overwhelmingly positive. We requested that teachers provide suggestions on ways the program could be improved. One suggestion was to improve the audio since the educator had his back to some of audience at times as he walked back and forth in front of them. To remedy this, we purchased a lapel microphone system and amplifier. This corrected the issue completely. A second suggestion was to have more visuals to aid the presentation in places. This is being addressed now and will be ready when the fall semester begins.
Year 2 Next Generation Outreach programs will begin on September 3, 2019, in the Southwest counties of Virginia. This is a rural region of Virginia that is very similar to our home region of Southern Virginia. Schools in this region too, lack the “extras” that are found in larger urban schools. We will visit schools in the counties of Smyth, Washington, Russell, Wise, Scott, Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Tazewell and Dickenson during September through early December. Scheduling for 2020 programs will take place during November and December.
In January of 2020, we will continue our outreach. The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation will continue this program until all schools in Virginia have been offered a chance to participate.
The following numbers provide the results of our Next Generation Outreach brought to the schools we visited. We far exceeded our own projections and expectations. Much of the material provided matches topics on Virginia’s environmental science Standards of Learning for Grades 3-5. In the fall, we will gather results on test scores from teachers whose students tested in May 2019, to see if any increase has occurred after having received our Next Generation message.
Number of schools visited: 59
Number of individual programs conducted: 65
Total number of students/teachers reached: 10,674
Average number of students per program: 165
Region 8: Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward.
Note: One county in Region 8 did not participate.
Other counties visited were Dinwiddie, Amherst, Bedford, Campbell, City of Lynchburg, Henrico, and Pittsylvania.
Funding sources are as follows:
Shelton H. Short, Jr. Trust
VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries
VA Forestry Educational Foundation
Jerry Epps Landscaping
John and Susan Mullin
As Richard Louv said, in Last Child in the Woods, “Many children are experiencing nature deficit disorder.” We are addressing this with youth outdoor education opportunities.
WBWF provides youth outdoor education experiences that range from camping and land projects to hunting, fishing, and much more in an effort to expose children to the endless opportunities to enjoy Mother Nature. Our hope is in some small way we reach some of the next generation so that they will grow into adults who care about the environment and pass on these values to their children.
Tabitha Burton, Executive Director of the WBWF, teamed up with Angela Townes-Yancey, Executive Director of the Mentor/Role Model Program to bring the Family Fishing Daytrip to over 40 youth and adults on June 6, 2018. Naturalist Mike Roberts presented a wildlife program after which the participants were treated to fishing in a nearby pond. Many of these children have never fished before, but they left this event equipped for many future fishing trips. The WBWF gave each child their own tackle box filled with tackle and a fishing rod.
Mike Roberts, Naturalist and Outreach Coordinator for the WBWF treated youth attending Adventure Camp to an outstanding wildlife program. The event was sponsored by Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District and Southside Soil and Water Conservation District and held on June 12, 2019. Eighteen youth attended and were shown many examples of wildlife including live snakes. Mike led them on a trail through the woods showing them examples of things to avoid such as poisonous hemlock.
On June 26, 2018, Naturalist Mike Roberts visited the Biggy Hunt Camp-out Jamboree and presented his wildlife program to 70 youth and adults. Mac and Brenda McDannald hosted the camp. Mike’s wildlife conservation education program consists of many life size models that the audience can touch and see up-close. Two examples are his “stuffed” coyote and otter. He also has live snakes, one of which is a timber rattler. Mike has many years of experience educating youth about the wonders of nature.