This year marks the 43 year of the AWLS program. Since its inception, the AWLS program has provided a host of information, curriculum resources, and networking opportunities to participants who have taken this world class professional development program. The focus has been and continues to be on the concept of teaching the importance of conservation and the role hunting plays in it. In a continuing effort to always provide another resource for the educators, a new certification opportunity is being provided to AWLS participants this year.
AWLS participants this year will be certified in Project WILD. The certification and program known as Project WILD was first developed in 1979 and was made available to educators in 1983. Its mission is to help students learn how to think, not what to think, about wildlife and the environment. All of the curriculum is connected to national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) standards that are used in schools across the country. Activities are centered on getting teachers to use the outdoors as their classroom and get students outside.
For the past several years participants attending AWLS were introduced to Project WILD and taught some of its lessons to take back and use in the classroom. While this was not an official certification, it did give participants an idea of what the program was about. They were encouraged to seek out additional training and certification once returning home. This past year an MOU was signed with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), who is charged with oversite of the program; to provide Project WILD certification to AWLS participants. An AWLS staff was trained as a Project WILD facilitator and AWLS became an official Project WILD training site.
Participants are receiving 8 hours of Project WILD training in activities and how to use the curriculum in their teaching environments. Upon completion of the AWLS program they receive a certificate that allows them to teach Project WILD in their classroom. Additional training is provided by state wildlife agencies if educators are interested in receiving more as they are several other programs based off of Project WILD available to them. As a part of their certification, they take home a Project WILD curriculum book that has a host of activities, lesson plans, and other valuable information for them to use in teaching students about conservation and the role hunting plays in it.
Providing Project WILD certification to AWLS participants will provide these educators with another tool they can use to promote and teach the role of hunting in conservation to 1,000’s of students each and every year throughout their careers.