Safari Club International Foundation sponsored 2 Tennessee teachers to attend the American Wilderness Leadership School in Wyoming this summer. I, Charity Novick, Education Programs Coordinator at Memphis Botanic Garden, was one to receive this chance of a lifetime. Partially sponsored by SCI and Memphis Botanic Garden, I received a week-long training on Wildlife Conservation, National Archery in the Classroom Program, Wilderness Survival, and Outdoor Education.
Our location in the Teton-Bridger National Forest near Jackson Hole, WY, provided the wilderness experience useful for learning the curriculum outdoors. We made several field trips to picturesque sights including controversial natural gas fields where we learned the habitat requirements of the nearly-endangered sage grouse. Trips like these allowed us to contemplate the balance of ecosystems and human needs. We were also guided through classroom lessons designed to promote careful consideration of issues in the natural world.
As a full-time education staffer at MBG, I have the opportunity to work with many local students. I plan to integrate critical-thinking into more of my upper-level camps and middle-school classes. The book "Last Child in the Woods," by Richard Louv, continued to be brought up during my week there. As a young person who had the opportunity to enjoy endless forest as a youth, I find it incredibly important to increase fun, nature-based experiences with children (and the young at heart) in my programs.
The opportunity I participated in had great impact on me. It reinvigorated my drive to impact lives by teaching through my adventurous style. I met nearly 30 other like-minded individuals from across the country, who are also excellent teachers that believe in the educational benefits of the great outdoors. At Memphis Botanic Garden, we believe in the importance of nature in our lives, and we will continue to be "an exemplary regional center for horticultural and environmental enrichment."
I am very thankful for this experience.