Educational Lessons and Strategies for Wildlife Educators and Teachers at Animal-Associated Wildlife Centers
thesisposted on 01.01.2017, 00:00 by Anna Luhrmann
Increasing industrialization and urbanization are causing a decreasing amount of non-urban wildlife interaction and nature experiences. Less contact with the natural world is potentially creating a lack of interest in the wildlife, ecology, and natural phenomena. Animal-associated wildlife centers (AAWCs) provide the public with unique opportunities to experience wildlife and nature directly and vicariously through educational programs. AAWCs are nonprofit organizations that provide sanctuary to native or exotic animals, rehabilitate and release native wildlife that is injured or orphaned, and/or house non-releasable wildlife for educational purposes. This applied project examined educational methods used by AAWCs within the United States and created an educational resource for wildlife educators. Information was collected from surveys of AAWCs and follow-up interviews with targeted organizations which informed the development of an educational resource website (http://wildlifeedresources.com). The website provides easy to model lesson/program plans and resources for informal science education strategies. This paper expounds upon the development of the website and provides justification for the development process. Throughout the process of implementing this project, notable findings appeared in the literature as well as valuable insights from interviews and surveys with AAWC organizations. The influence that AAWCs can provide on their community and conservation education is substantial and should be utilized. Through the sharing and adaptation of successful lesson plans and the utilization of experiential learning, place-based education, education, active learning, storytelling, educational / ambassador animals, and the development of empathy, AAWC education programs can enhance their impact on students, participants, and the environment.