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FIT- Bringing A Natural Resources Curriculum to the K-12 Classroom

The Issue

Living in an urbanized state, few Californians recognize how much they depend on the forest for water, wood products and wildlife habitat, as well as their responsibility for its proper management. Through environmental learning integrated into the educational system, students can discover how to make critical choices about issues such as forest health, ecosystem management, consumerism and local economies.

What Has ANR Done?

The goal of the Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT) is to provide California's K-12 teachers with knowledge, skills and tools to more effectively teach forest ecology and forest resource management practices. The program is co-sponsored by UCCE, the Northern California Society of American Foresters, US Forest Service and many other organizations. FIT brings natural resource specialists together with teachers from both rural and urban schools for one week, working side by side to explore the intricate interrelationship of forest ecosystems and human use of natural resources. The science-based curricula explore many subject areas, including environmental science, physical science, social science, biology, forestry and history. At each session, more than 40 local resource professionals representing many disciplines are invited to teach components of the course. UCCE advisors and specialists serve as co-directors and teachers. FIT offers annual institutes in three Northern California locations: Humboldt, Shasta and Plumas Counties. Back at their schools, FIT participants conduct in-service training for colleagues, and develop forestry education projects with their students.

The Payoff

FIT pays off for teachers

Since 1993, over 1,000 K-12th grade teachers, evenly spread among grades, have participated in FIT. About one-third come from Southern California, one-third from central and rural California and one-third from the Bay Area and Sacramento. Their responses to the course emphasize (1) new insight into the complexity of forest management and (2) activities and lessons that prove valuable in the classroom. Because teachers have utilized the activities and information gained from FIT in the classroom, students are improving their knowledge and decision-making skills. FIT has received a number of environmental education awards.

Clientele Testimonial

"Attending FIT changed my perspective as a consumer and voter, my philosophy as a teacher and the lessons I choose to teach...After six years, I still find myself reflecting back on what I saw during those fieldtrips and heard from the speakers, and using those insights with other teachers, my students, parents and other adults."--Marianne Chang, Boulder Creek, CA.


Supporting Unit: Humboldt-Del Norte Counties

Yana Valachovic, UCCE Humboldt-Del Norte Counties, 5630 S. Broadway, Eureka, CA 95503-6998
(707)445-7351. Gary Nakamura, UCCE Shasta County, 1851 Hartnell Ave., Redding, CA 96002-2217 (530)224-4902. Michael DeLasaux, UCCE Plumas-Sierra Counties, 208 Fairgrounds Rd., Quincy, CA 95971 (530)283-6125