Connecting SC Classrooms and Forests through the Sustainable Forestry Teacher’s Tour
Why This Project Matters
Using real-world examples of forest sustainability, the Sustainable Forestry Teacher’s Tour will enhance the positive perception of forestry in South Carolina. It will provide an advanced weekend workshop to teachers, train landowners to deliver Project Learning Tree (PLT) activities during tours of their property and connect teachers and landowners for ongoing programs on sustainable forestry. PLT, an SFI program, is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.
Ultimately, the project will give educators the tools to engage students about the importance of sustainable forest management. The South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee (SIC) has a successful track record of reaching out to youth and helping them learn about the many environmental, social, and economic benefits provided by South Carolina’s forests.
Why is SFI Involved?
The South Carolina SFI SIC is the lead sponsor of the Sustainable Forestry Teacher’s Tour. As the lead organization, the South Carolina SIC will work closely with the Teacher’s Tour Steering Committee to include relevant SFI content and information. Tour topics will include methods of evaluating sustainability and biodiversity in managed forests and related data collection, the non-timber benefits of forests and management of timber species other than pine.
The primary goal of the teacher’s tour has always been for participants to recognize the importance of sustainable forestry practices, and to view these as environmentally sound. The second is for teachers to incorporate a positive view of forestry in their classrooms. The advanced course will provide valuable information and resources for teachers to share with their students and build on the PLT curriculum they were introduced to on the teacher’s tour. The advanced workshop will instruct teacher’s tour graduates in more depth about forest sustainability and biodiversity, the non-timber benefits of forest management, and hardwood ecosystems.
The 16,000 acre Hobcaw Barony was selected for the workshop because the property is a certified South Carolina Tree Farm, where forest management is conducted to enhance biodiversity and restoration and enhancement of the longleaf pine ecosystem. It also contains colonies of the federally endangered red‑cockaded woodpecker, and bottomland hardwoods. Encouraging South Carolina Tree Farmers to become PLT trained will provide them with skills to use in their role as non-formal educators when classes visit their property.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
This project will serve as an example to other SFI Implementation Committees and state PLT networks as a potential collaboration opportunity. The project has several good project partners including PLT and Tree Farm. SFI believes connecting teachers and tree farmers for field trips is a positive way to build connections between educators and landowners. The program also has funding for transportation, which helps attract educators from underserved school districts. The project will connect teachers and tour participants with SFI Program Participants. It will also facilitate SFI Program Participant PLT training.
This partnership includes educators, SFI Program Participants, landowners and forestry professionals.
- Project lead: South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Forestry of Association South Carolina
- South Carolina Forestry Commission (SFI Program Participant)
- South Carolina Timber Producers Association
- South Carolina Certified Tree Farm Program
- The Wood Magic Forest Fair is a free, fun, forestry-fact-filled field trip and festival for fourth‑graders in South Carolina. Through SFI grant funding, the South Carolina Forestry Foundation was able to revise its fourth-grade curriculum and program for fifth-graders to better align with the new South Carolina Department of Education Science Standards.
- The South Carolina Forestry Foundation delivered two seven-day graduate-level teachers’ tours in 2012 and 2013 that showed how working forests support South Carolina’s environment, economy and quality of life, and how using SFI water resources requirements serve as a model for responsible forestry.
- Project Learning Tree, an SFI program, is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.