Growing up Wild: Exploring Nature with Young Children

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Preparation:
Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children (GUW) is an early childhood curriculum developed by the Council for Environmental Education. GUW builds on children’s sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world that surrounds them. Through a wide range of activities and experiences, Growing Up WILD provides an early foundation for young children ages three to seven to develop positive impressions about the natural world.
In implementing STEM education, providing a robust professional development opportunity that is sustained is often most effective. (Sanders, 2009). In an evaluation of GUW performed by Joe E. Heimlich, Ph.D. and Renae Youngs, MA, participants completing professional development course viewed the program very favorably. Respondents liked the hands-on nature of the workshops and “doing the activities to help understand them better” before leading them with their students. Also, a number of individuals connected the fun they had in the workshops with their excitement to share what they learned with others.
GUW delivery method supports Sanders assertion for adoption of STEM curriculum as it allows for social interaction between the participants as they learn the activities of the guide in a constructive and experiential process. Since 2011, the Growing Up Wild has been offered by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources to educators through a half day training program. This study identifies how teachers have reacted to Growing Up Wild Curriculum and how they perceive it impacting on the children that they have taught.
Goal and Objective:
The research was to evaluate the adoption of curriculum by educators both formal and non-formal; including which ...

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...f. WVDNR personnel provided email addresses of past workshop attendees. Following the stated research protocols, I emailed past participants requesting their involvement to complete an on-line survey. I gathered and reviewed the data to develop a report that was presented and decimated to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
As I am approved WVDNR trainer for several of the Growing Up Wild half day workshops and provided five workshops during 2011 and 2012, I had an interest in further evaluating the program. I was quite satisfied to learn the positive results of these trainings. I estimate my time in this research to be eighty hours over the course of this calendar year.
Collaborators and Funding Sources:
This research project was a collaboration between WVU Extension Service in Kanawha County and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
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