Are you seeking to evoke wonder and excitement in your students while they learn at the same time? Consider introducing them to ways we, at the U.S. Department of the Interior, manage America’s land, water, and wildlife. Our agencies have practical ideas, web resources, and fun activities for use inside and outside your classroom. You may spark your students’ interest in our nation’s natural and cultural heritage; help them think about science, math, and history in new ways; and inspire college and career pathways for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and public land stewards. (Visit here for a list of our mission-critical positions.)
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
BIA’s mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. BIA provides a broad spectrum of services to American Indian and Alaska Natives. To learn more about BIA, visit www.bia.gov.
Bureau of Indian Education (BIE)
BIE is responsible for ensuring the implementation of federal education laws, including the No Child Left Behind Act, in 183 BIE-funded elementary and secondary schools and residential programs on 64 reservations in 23 states. The system serves about 41,000 American Indian and Alaska Native students and employs more than 5,000 teachers, administrators, and support personnel. The BIE also provides resources and technical assistance to 126 tribally administered BIE-funded schools, 27 tribal colleges and universities, and 2 technical colleges. It also directly oversees 2 post-secondary institutions: Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. BIE’s website is www.bie.edu.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)*
The BLM manages about 245 million acres of land, mostly in the Western states. The BLM manages public lands for many uses and offers a wide range of educational resources on subjects ranging from history and paleontology to watersheds, wildlife, and energy. BLM provides educators with curricula, lesson plans, and classroom activity ideas on natural and cultural resource topics. In addition, BLM provides interactive educational games and programs for students, as well as background information on subjects from archaeology to zoology. For more information, see www.blm.gov/education.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
BOEM manages the responsible exploration and development of energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. To support this work and inform bureau policy decisions, BOEM’s Environmental Studies Program plans, conducts, and oversees a range of scientific research from physical and biological oceanography to social and economic studies. Resources for educators and students are prepared from some of the research results. See www.boem.gov/BOEM-Newsroom/Library/Ocean-Science/Ocean-Science.aspx for more information.
Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation)
Reclamation is the largest wholesaler of water in the nation; its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Reclamation offers exciting ways to learn how past and present water-management decisions are shaping America’s future. Educational materials include a packet to promote understanding of the impact Hoover Dam has had on history, technology, and the environment. For more information, see www.usbr.gov/youth/learn/educational-resources.cfm.
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
BSEE is responsible for the oversight of exploration, development, operations for oil and natural gas on the outer continental shelf (OCS). BSEE’s regulation and oversight of Federal offshore resources ensures that the OCS remains a solid contributor to the Nation’s energy needs through safe and environmentally responsible oil and gas development and the conservation of resources. To learn more about BSEE, visit www.bsee.gov.
National Park Service (NPS)*
NPS accepts and fully embraces its role as a critical player in America’s educational system, ensuring that parks are places for learning, sharing, and dialog, as well as personal and societal growth. Visit NPS’ portal to education resources such as distance learning, field trips, and curriculum materials in addition to accredited professional development opportunities for teachers. Also visit NPS’ Education and Interpretation web page to access NPS’ Sesame Street Explores National Parks online resources, iTunes U podcasts and information, and Learning Quests, including links to more online lessons and content at NPS’ Teaching with Historic Places and Teaching with Museum Collections web pages.
Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM)
OSM is making education fun while providing information on the work they do to reclaim abandoned mine lands and regulate coal mines. Students learn how OSM strives to balance our Nation’s need for coal with its need to protect the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining. To learn more about OSM, visit www.osmre.gov.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)*
FWS, one of the federal government’s principle conservation agencies, provides resources to help students learn how to conserve, protect, and enhance our nation’s fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats. Resources include lesson plans, activities, community-service projects and background information. A few examples are: Shorebird Sister Schools, a science-based environmental education program; Schoolyard Habitat, a program that helps teachers and students create wildlife habitat on school grounds; and the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program, a dynamic arts curriculum that teaches wetlands and waterfowl conservation and wildlife management for K-12 students. To learn more about FWS education resources, please see visit http://www.fws.gov/letsgooutside/.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
USGS, the nation’s largest natural-science agency, helps to educate the public about natural resources, natural hazards, geospatial data, and other issues affecting our quality of life. USGS works with educators and students to increase understanding of the critical role science plays in responsible decision making. Resources include lessons, data, and maps. See www.education.usgs.gov/.
* Hands on the Land: BLM, FWS, and NPS participate with other public and private partners in Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms and agency resources to connect students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways. Hands on the Land brings classroom learning to life in America’s largest classroom! See www.handsontheland.org.
The nation’s public lands and waters enrich our lives. They provide access to the powerful ideas, values, and meanings associated with the remarkable cultural, natural, and recreational heritage of the United States. At the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), we provide professional development to teachers and other educators—connecting math, science, and history with the real world. These opportunities fall into four categories:
- Experiential Professional Development: Hands-on opportunities provide educators with first-hand learning about our natural and cultural heritage along with ways to share that knowledge with students. “By using hands-on instruction, educators are fostering the 21st century skills that students need to be successful: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.”*
- Professional Learning Workshops: Workshops at DOI facilities, and at professional development conferences, introduce resources and educational materials into the classroom or prepare classrooms for field trips and other visits.
- Online Lessons and Content: Hundreds of online resources offer a wealth of learning opportunities for educators and students, inside the classroom and on public lands and waters.
- Distance Learning: Site-specific curriculum-based programming is available through the web, audio, or video conferencing.
Read on to learn more about professional development opportunities that BLM, FWS and NPS provide to educators.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
BLM offers educator professional development opportunities, such as Project Archaeology—an educational program dedicated to teaching scientific and historical inquiry, cultural understanding, and archaeological stewardship. Project Archaeology includes award-winning educational materials, teacher workshops delivered across the country, and online courses. See www.projectarchaeology.org. Other workshops and hands-on field programs help educators connect natural and cultural resource topics to curriculum standards as well as introduce teachers, first-hand, to public land resources they can share with their students. Examples include the week-long Great Basin Teachers Workshop in Nevada and the year-long Iditarod Trail to Every Classroom in Alaska.
Select BLM sites involved in the Hands on the Land* network of outdoor classrooms are instituting the Teachers on the Public Lands program to connect BLM offices with public and private school teachers. Teachers will provide advice, support, and expertise to BLM offices and perform various duties depending on their interests and the educational needs of participating BLM offices and Hands on the Land sites. In turn, teachers will receive a stipend and experience working on public lands. See the Teachers section of BLM’s Learning Landscapes website (www.blm.gov/education) for more, including online educational resources.
- National Park Service (NPS)
The National Park Service (NPS) strives to provide opportunities for all Americans to connect to their national heritage through national parks. Connect with your local national park at www.nps.gov and use NPS’ education portal to find professional development opportunities for teachers.
Experiential Professional Development: Programs—such as Teacher-Ranger-Teacher—provide more than 250 teachers a summer professional development experience (http://teacherrangerteacher.org/).
Professional Learning Workshops: Professional learning workshops are structured to meet the needs of today’s teachers and often offer college credit or continuing education units. See NPS’s education portal.
Online Lessons and Content: Over 300 National Parks offer online lessons and content, aligned with local, state, or national standards of learning. Check the NPS portal for more learning opportunities, and more content on the Teaching with Historic Places website and the Teaching with Museum Collections website./
Distance Learning: More than 100 Electronic Field Trips and other distance learning programs bring students virtually to the parks for curriculum-based exploration and discovery. Find NPS on ITunes University, where you can view and listen to narrations of park tours, or watch eye-popping, stirring, or informative video presentations.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
FWS offers professional development opportunities through the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC). These courses are designed for FWS employees; however, many are open to other conservation professionals and educators. The FWS Environmental Education Curriculum Strand focuses on best practices and demonstrates how environmental education serves as a resource management tool for the agency. Examples include Building Urban Community Habitats with Youth and Creating a Schoolyard Habitat/Outdoor Classroom. The latter engages partners to establish ecologically sound restoration projects that are sustainable outdoor learning areas on school sites. Visit the NCTC website (http://training.fws.gov/DEO/trng/index.html) for upcoming courses.
Green Strides Webinars
The U.S. Department of the Interior periodically offers webinars to educators and school administrators through the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Strides Webinar Series, in support of the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition program. View upcoming webinars here.