Ever wonder what the future of natural resource management looks like?
Judging by the cowboy-boot-and-blue-jean clad teachers and students at the Alabama Nature Center, the future is ready for work.
While many students in Alabama were sitting in desks at their schools, 159 agriscience teachers, students and chaperones were learning about the great outdoors. On September 27, 2012, ANC hosted the first Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day. This unique opportunity was made possible by a grant from First South Farm Credit and the vision of Camp Powers, president of the South Alabama Division of First South Farm Credit. Students and teachers who participated were from Bell-Brown Career and Technical Center in Sumter County, Bibb County Career and Technical, Central High School in Clay County, Clanton High School in Chilton County, Coosa Central Science and Technology Center in Coosa County, Elmore County High School, Shelby County High School, St. Clair County High School, Brookwood Middle School in Tuscaloosa County and York Junior High School in Sumter County.
The theme for the Woods, Water and Wildlife FFA Day focused on topics correlating with the agriscience curriculum students are currently studying.
"Our goal at the ANC is to prepare the next generation for natural resource management," said Jimmy Harris, Alabama Nature Center Director. "This program provided the students with a great opportunity to participate in hands-on, conservation-related programming and see what jobs are available in the natural resource field."
The day was composed of six different presentations for students.
The first rotation was called Forest Forces where students were able to see and identify various tree species and learn about timber and forest management.
The second rotation was called Aquaculture where students learned about the requirements to successfully produce various aquaculture products in Alabama, the impact of the aquaculture industry on Alabama, and were even given time to take advantage of one of Alabama’s most popular outdoor sports: fishing.
The next rotation was Soil Science where students were taught how important soil is to our society. Soil is the basis for everything we have including building our homes, roadways and all agriculture products. Soil is the basis to support life as we know it.
Following this rotation, students were provided a great lunch sponsored by First South Farm Credit.
The fourth rotation was Hunter Safety where students were provided with information about common hunting accidents in Alabama and ways to enjoy hunting safely.
The following rotation focused on one of Alabama’s most valuable resources -- our Wildlife. Students were given information to help them become better stewards of wildlife management and how to provide proper habitats for wildlife.
The final rotation focused on Horticulture. This rotation covered information that would be important to everyone from homeowners to professional horticulturists.
All of the rotations focused on helping students find a career they were most interested in and on the conservation of Alabama’s Natural Resources.
If you are not familiar with the Alabama Nature Center, developed through the efforts of the Alabama Wildlife Federation and the Hill Family, it is a not-for-profit entity known as the AWF Isabel and Wiley Hill Conservation Education Center. The Lanark Estate was conveyed to the AWF-IWH CEC to provide for long-term stewardship of the property and development of an outdoor education facility now known as the Alabama Nature Center. The Alabama Nature Center, located at Lanark in Millbrook, is a Planned-Use Outdoor Education Facility offering hands-on, outdoor-based educational programs and activities for students, educators, church and civic groups, and the general public. ANC contains 350 acres of striking forests, fields, streams, wetlands and ponds traversed by five miles of boardwalks and trails. ANC can be reserved in advance for school field trips, teacher training workshops, seminars and other educational programs with the Alabama Wildlife Federation. To schedule a trip or for more information about ANC, please visit http://www.alabamawildlife.org/alabama-nature-center/.
This day would not have been possible without the assistance of the many organizations and individuals who donated their time, talents and resources. Thank you to the following businesses and organizations: First South Farm Credit, Alabama Wildlife Federation, Alabama Nature Center, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Barber Berry Farm and others.
For more information about the Alabama FFA Association, please visit www.alabamaffa.org.
Chris Kennedy is an Education Specialist with the Alabama Department of Education.