By Wendy Dew
Here in Colorado we have an abundance of environmental education opportunities with a diversity of flora and fauna. You can even see prairie dogs from the side of the road at a shopping center!
Unfortunately, one the best educational examples we have right now is Pine Beetle. Rocky Mountain kids can see firsthand the effects of climate change and drought on our local forests with the pine beetle epidemic. The mountain pine beetle is in the midst of its most intense and widespread epidemic in recorded history. The geographic infestation extends from New Mexico to the Yukon Territory and from the front range of Colorado to the Pacific Ocean. In Colorado alone, more than 3 million acres of forests have already been affected.
The University of Colorado – Boulder recently released a new film on mountain pine beetle and its effects in Colorado. They have also created a lesson on mountain pine beetle appropriate for high school but adaptable to middle school. They have a variety of other lesson plans and videos and resources for teaching about local climate change.
Every student has the opportunity to learn about the environment. Whether it be the pine beetle, the Chesapeake Bay or in your own backyard. Look to your local environment to find out what issues are happening and what you can do about them.
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About the author: Wendy Dew is the Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator for Region 8 in Denver, Colorado.