Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Does Your State Need Future Forest Stewards?

Penn State Extension offers a new program to teach youth about forests and the concept of good forest stewardship.

If we are going to have productive and healthy forests in the future, we need future forest stewards today. This is the reason Penn State Extension is offering a new, free program to teach youth about forests and the concept of forest stewardship. The program, Future Forest Steward is a successor to the Junior Forest Steward Program they offered for 10 years with great success. Focusing on youth to embrace forest stewardship today is nothing new to Extension.

According to Sanford Smith, Penn State Extension natural resources and youth-education specialist, Pennsylvania youth often know very little about the forests and natural areas that cover the state. “We have been committed to getting kids excited about, and interested in Penn's Woods for many years,” he says.

Future Forest Steward is designed for implementation by teachers, youth-group leaders, and other adults working with youth. Penn State Extension is now seeking interested adults to help facilitate the program. “The adults we need do not have to be naturalists or forestry experts to carry out the Future Forest Steward program,” Smith explains. “An interest and willingness to learn right along with youth is the only thing we require. The program is suitable for both formal and non-formal educational settings.”

The program format is also flexible. Young participants 1) read an interactive publication (individually or as a group), 2) discuss the questions, and then 3) participate in a forest stewardship activity led by the adult educator or helper. A guide for adults accompanies the publication and provides answers to questions and ideas for activities that participating youth and adults can undertake.

After participants complete the three steps, their adult helpers send in a short “tally-sheet” and the youth receive an embroidered Future Forest Steward patch as an award and reminder of what they learned. The program raises awareness of forest stewardship and the importance of being a steward of the natural world. “After all, today's Future Forest Stewards will be responsible for the forests that give Pennsylvania its very name, and they will pass them on to future generations,” said Smith.

For questions about the program, contact Sanford Smith. To request copies of the Future Forest Steward publication and adult guide, contact Penn State's Renewable Natural Resources Extension Office at 814-863-0401 or Downloadable versions of the curriculum materials can also be found online.

Contact Sanford Smith

Phone: 814-865-4261

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