by Dawn Miller-Walker
The Project WILD/Aquatic WILD workshop a couple weekends ago was the perfect way to spend a rainy day in Dania Beach. The weather wasn’t conducive to doing much outside, but thankfully we weren’t dealing with the freezing temperatures of the Midwest! Educators from multiple counties, some driving over an hour and half came to participate in a fun, hands-on and very wild workshop held at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center who sponsored the location. The diversity of this group was the best I’ve ever had: from mothers who want to teach their children more about our fascinating planet by getting them outside more to explore, to government employees (state and county) who work with a variety of people of all ages, formal educators and informal educators! The best part about WILD workshops is the sharing. I’ve been facilitating these workshops for a long time – I enjoy teaching children ages 3-college, but teacher workshops/professional development is not only a way for me to share the ways I modify and tweak programs to make them work for me, but I get to learn from them. When running a workshop, keeping an open mind about how others will do the exact same activity is how I continue to learn and build my ideas. Without the sharing, I would get bored and my activities would be stagnated. It is so important to not only teach and share what you know, but to open yourself up to the creativeness of others. It is because of workshops like these, along with conferences through LEEF, FMSEA and FAST (and there are many others to attend) that I continually grow. Environmental Education isn’t just for the children, but for us adults to. They say, scientists are just adults who want to continue to explore like children!!!
Pictured: Fashion A Fish/Adaptation Artistry/Color Crazy/Designing A Habitat… If I were going to only get to choose one PW/PAW activity to do for the rest of my teaching life, it would be my various ways of teaching this (I don’t always use all the different names for the same general activity – I call it all Fashion A Fish)!!! As a marine biologist, this is already in my blood… and modifying the various ways to teach these concepts to ages 2 through senior citizens, I get totally pumped. So here are some pictures of my modified activities… a fish costume that my mother-in-law helped me make (yes, I can sew slightly)… the drawing version (I created a very detailed set of ID charts for the body types, mouth shapes, teeth, caudal fins, scales, camouflage, and reproduction) that includes not only external anatomy and adaptation, but a scientific name, common name and behavior due to their adaptations… another one is based on the drawing, but they blindly choose the parts and attach to a felt board and come up with the new species information… and lastly, after going over the ID charts, they use “trash to treasure” items (things most people just throw out because it held something they bought, was the left over of something they used, was broken, etc…) to create a physical replica of their new species then they have to present it to the group giving all the species information adding where they discovered it, how it behaves and even possibly how it mates.
Not only do I look forward to the next WILD workshop I will facilitate in the future but going to other’s various workshops and conference sessions to pick up more ammunition for Environmental Education! If you are interested in having WILD workshops (Project WILD, Aquatic WILD, Growing Up WILD, Flying WILD, Black Bear, and Schoolyard Wildlife) in your area, contact Anita.Forester@myfwc.com to get you in touch with someone in your region.