The Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT) is a free residential program offered to Kindergarten through 12th grade educators in California. FIT brings educators into an immersive, week-long field experience with topic-specific training about California’s forest ecosystems, human use of natural resources and environmental education curriculum. The knowledge, skills and tools provided enable educators to effectively teach about forest ecology and forest resource management practices while adopting Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through Project Learning Tree (PLT) and Project WILD. FIT curriculum and sessions are directed by teams of University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Natural Resources/Forestry Advisors and highly qualified K-12 education professionals.
Project Learning Tree uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. Since 1976, PLT has reached 138 million students and trained 765,000 educators to help students learn how to think, not what to think about complex environmental issues.
Project Learning Tree helps develop students’ awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the environment, builds their skills and ability to make informed decisions, and encourages them to take personal responsibility for sustaining the environment and our quality of life that depends on it. From its beginnings in 1976, PLT has exemplified high-quality environmental education.
FireWorks is an educational program about the science of wildland fire, designed for students in grades K-12. FireWorks provides students with interactive, hands-on materials to study wildland fire. It is highly interdisciplinary and students learn about properties of matter, chemical and physical processes, ecosystem fluctuations and cycles, habitat and survival, and human interactions with ecosystems. Students using FireWorks ask questions, gather information, analyze and interpret it, and communicate their discoveries.
The team is educating children, adults and communities. Their three-pronged approach includes youth education for 500 middle school students and training for teachers; adult education through advanced training for California Naturalists; and community education by partnering with Fire Safe Councils. UCCE is currently redeveloping this national curriculum for local California systems.