he Boone and Crockett Club’s Lee and Penny Anderson Conservation Education Program has released its first “virtual” wildlife education lesson plans that teach middle schoolers about wildlife science. The Trail Camera curriculum uses trail camera footage from the Club’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch near Dupuyer, Montana, to teach practical, real-life biological principles with no travel or field trip related expenses required. The Trail Camera 101 and three training modules provide educators with a ready-made lesson plan that includes trail camera photo sequences, short answer questionnaires, vocabulary lessons with “word finds”, teacher keys, lesson extensions and background information. The curriculum was developed by the Club’s director of conservation programs, Luke Coccoli, as part of his master’s in education project.
“Our world is currently experiencing never before seen measures in regard to online-based learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Electronic environmental education could not be more important than it is right now, and the timing of the release of the Boone and Crockett Club’s Trail Camera lessons just happened to coincide with this significant increase in virtual learning,” commented Coccoli. “We hope that this material can bring the wild experience and biological principles found in nature to the students who may not have the opportunity to experience such landscapes or see these types of animals. We also hope that these lesson plans will capitalize on connecting with the tech-savvy generation of today’s young people while simultaneously preaching the importance of wildlife conservation in a fun and interactive way.”
In a time when students are more disconnected from the outdoors than ever, the use of trail cameras has the potential to reconnect students to the great outdoors while within any physical or virtual “classroom” – even thousands of miles away. Trail cameras have been deployed on the Boone and Crockett Club’s Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch since 2012. These cameras are routinely monitored and placed in strategic locations to capture a variety of species and seasonal movements across variable ecotypes. The Trail Camera lesson plans bring the TRM Ranch and all of its Rocky Mountain ecosystem inhabitants into the lives of classroom teachers and students through pre-selected slides that focus on a variety of large and small game mammal species as well as birds, bats and even plant life. The curriculum starts with a free “Trail Camera 101” lesson that provides background and understanding of the use of trail cameras in wildlife science, as well as understanding the different mammals that might be seen on the camera. The introduction is followed by three lessons of 190+ trail camera images that students learn to interpret using guided worksheets.
The lesson plans developed by Coccoli adhere to “Next Generation Science Standards” utilized by educators. Specifically, students that participate in the lessons will connect with two of these standards: 1) Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem; and 2) Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations. One of the primary goals of the curriculum was to increase awareness and understanding of the integration between wildlife conservation, private land and livestock management. The lessons seek to foster an understanding of the shared use of natural resources and promote stewardship of the land to build common ground for sustaining healthy ecosystems. This has the potential to not only to increase students’ science knowledge but also create more environmentally responsible behavior within students’ daily lives.
“Many people associate technology with a disconnect from the outdoors, this curriculum was designed to change that. This curriculum can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world, and ideally it will connect people to wildlife and nature in a way never done before,” concluded Coccoli. “The research behind the design for this curriculum proved that viewing trail camera photos in an educational setting can increase the amount of time students later spend outside enjoying nature while also increasing their knowledge and ability to identify native wildlife species, all while delivering it in a manner students favored and believed in.”
The Trail Camera 101 lesson is available for free, while the three modules with trail camera footage are available for $10 each, or all three for $25 on Teachers Pay Teachers or on the Boone and Crockett Club website.
About the Boone and Crockett Club
Founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club promotes guardianship and visionary management of big game and associated wildlife in North America. The Club maintains the highest standards of fair chase sportsmanship and habitat stewardship. Member accomplishments include enlarging and protecting Yellowstone and establishing Glacier and Denali national parks, founding the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and National Wildlife Refuge System, fostering the Pittman-Robertson and Lacey Acts, creating the Federal Duck Stamp program, and developing the cornerstones of modern game laws. The Boone and Crockett Club is headquartered in Missoula, Montana. For details, visit www.boone-crockett.org.