Nature's Partners in Six Modules
The Who, What & Why of Pollinators
Pollinators and Plants in Partnership
The Other Half of the Partnership: Pollinators
Pollinator Friendly Habitat in Your Area Creating Pollinator-Friendly Habitat
Community Service Project
The National Gardening Association is proud to be a partner with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) in the online publication of Nature's Partners: Pollinators, Plants, and You, a curriculum developed for students in grades 3 through 6. The curriculum is funded through a grant from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service's Division of Natural Resources.
Nature's Partners is an inquiry-learning-based resource focused on pollinators and their importance in our world. Though it is designed for use in informal educational settings, it’s easy to adapt for classroom use. The six sessions each take between one and two hours to complete. Modules offer three to four activities designed to engage kids in direct investigative science following a learning cycle of exploration, concept introduction/development, and concept application.
Each module contains background information and flexible activities that can be adapted for many different settings, from after-school programs to summer camps, and can be completed individually or as a series. The community service emphasis is an important part of the curriculum. As NAPCC Youth Education Task Force Chair Ella Madsen shares, "The curriculum helps kids identify areas that need improvement along with habitats that need to be protected. It also helps them design public education and service projects that will have a positive impact in their community." Another unique feature is that the curriculum is designed so that teen volunteers can be trained to deliver the program. "Young people in 3rd through 6th grades really look up to teenagers and are very receptive to learning from them,” Madsen says.
Nature's Partners is a 4-H SERIES (Science Experiences and Resources for Informal Education Settings) program . Dr. Richard Ponzio, project director for the curriculum says, "The science learning available to youth participating in SERIES is significantly different because SERIES includes five important context dimensions: the science processes imbedded in the learning experience; the value of cross-age instruction; use of the learning cycle in each activity; and the value of an apprentice structure where youth are involved in community-based service learning projects. The goal of SERIES is to encourage the youngsters to begin to use the processes and approaches of science in his or her personal decision making as a citizen in our society. Content is carefully chosen and related to the processes so that participants develop a clearer understanding of how science related to their lives every day.”
Dr. Ponzio adds, “Most importantly, youth are encouraged to explore, manipulate and observe. As a leader, you are not looking for particular answers. Your role is to be a co-investigator — you may explore also, and even enrich students’ observations with your own."
For NAPPC, this program represents one step towards increasing the public's awareness and sense of responsibility, which are essential to a successful conservation program for pollinators. For the most part, the general public is unaware of the decrease in pollinator populations and the implications this has for agricultural production. The Nature's Partners curriculum is designed to educate young people about pollinators and the important role they play in providing many of the foods we eat and the plant fiber used in our clothing and household goods, and some ways they can help pollinators survive and flourish by protecting and creating pollinator-friendly habitat.
You'll find the Nature's Partners curriculum here. Future plans include expanding the curriculum to add resources and activities for kids in grades 7 through 9.