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Every trip outdoors can be a journey of discovery for the observant, but environmental education is much more. It's a way to feed the natural curiosity that starts in childhood by examining bugs, watching birds, chasing frogs, blowing dandelion seeds or picking up turtles. At the Department of Natural Resources, we encourage children to discover the connections among animals, plants and the resources that sustain them. We help them develop values and attitudes. And we try to give them the skills and tools to act as environmental stewards.
We provide education in many ways. Our skilled park naturalists lead interpretive programs; volunteers teach youth and adults how to safely hunt, fish and use recreational equipment; special centers teach outdoor skills; and staff make classroom visits. Still others draft teaching materials to incorporate forestry, air, water quality, wildlife and fisheries management into classroom disciplines.
In this special section, we explore a range of environmental education programs and methods the DNR Communication and Education staff employ to engage the public in natural resource protection and environmental problem-solving. Here you will visit our environmental education centers. You'll learn about programs that reach out to Wisconsin's 57,700 teachers in their classrooms. You'll see how we encourage environmental monitoring to learn more about community health and the local environment. We'll take you online to show how technology can reach us and teach us. And we'll introduce you to our partners in business and communities who are equally committed to a healthy environment and a robust economy.
David L. Sperling is the editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources