SFI Is Helping Inspire Future Forest Leaders in South Carolina
Wood Magic Forest Fair
Why this project matters
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 will be 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.
A series of four-hour programs at three locations around the state will offer forestry-related educational experiences and demonstrations. The fair combines hands-on activities with visually engaging presentations to teach children about the importance of forest lands to wildlife, the economy and our daily quality of life. The fair has a successful track record of engaging kids and helping them learn about the many environmental, social, and economic benefits provided by South Carolina’s forests.
Every year teachers administer a pre-fair test and a post-fair test. Highlights include:
Before the program, only 45% of the students understood that the U.S. has more forests today than it did 100 years ago, 75% knew this to be the case afterward.
After the fair, 95% of the students recognized that trees are a renewable natural resource.
Beforehand, only 31% of the students thought that using trees for the products we need is an environmentally friendly thing to do. After the fair, 77% recognized the environmental benefits of well-managed forests.
Why is SFI involved?
SFI values this project because it makes the link between forestry and South Carolina Department of Education Science Standards. It also increases their appreciation of South Carolina’s forests.
One of SFI’s priorities is to connect youth to forests through education. We look for ways to instill a lifelong appreciation for the value forests represent for biodiversity, the wider environment, sustainable communities, responsibly sourced forest products and for our shared quality of life. The educational focus of this project also supports SFI’s focus on encouraging the next generation of future forest leaders.
Our work with Boy Scouts of America, Girl Guides of Canada, Scouts Canada, and other youth organizations and school programs like Project Learning Tree and Earth Rangers, helps build healthy kids. It also engages youth in conservation activities and outdoor education.
Our kids’ contact with nature keeps shrinking. Today’s emphasis on screen time and indoor play is also linked to psychological and physical effects like obesity, loneliness, depression and attention problems. Getting kids into forests and helping them learn about sustainability is good for forests and good for kids.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
The Wood Magic Forest Fair brings together a diverse group of 58 organizations including SFI Program Participants, the South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee, conservationists, academics, community leaders, and state and federal government representatives.
Approximately 90 individual volunteers from the forestry community and other organizations came together in 2016 to make this forestry education program successful. Most importantly, the Wood Magic Fair has touched the lives of more than 31,500 fourth graders since its inception in 1999. Engaging kids is a proven strategy to change how families and the communities they live in perceive sustainability issues.
This partnership includes representatives from non-profit groups and SFI Program Participants. These partners include:
Project lead: South Carolina Forestry Foundation
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee (consists of SFI Program Participants)
South Carolina Forestry Commission
Past Wood Magic Forest Fairs have also been held at Clemson University. The Clemson University Experimental Forest is certified to SFI. SFI also works with Clemson on Habitat for Humanity builds.
The private, non-profit South Carolina Forestry Foundation is a partnership of individuals and companies, including landowners, loggers, foresters, educators, researchers, conservationists, and sportsmen, dedicated to forest conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.