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Interpretation and Education Toolbox

The Interpretation and Education Toolbox is a 'work in progress' and represents only the information available. In addition to the resources provided here, you may also be able to obtain advice and recommendations through discussion on Wilderness Connect. Date of last update: 3/29/17.
  1. Law and Policy
    1. The Wilderness Act

      Section 2(a): Statement of Purpose
      "...there is hereby established a National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned areas designated by the Congress as "wilderness areas," and these shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to provide for the protection of these areas, the preservation of their wilderness character, and for the gathering and dissemination of information regarding their use and enjoyment as wilderness;..."

      Section 2(c): Definition of Wilderness
      "(4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value." Section 4(b): Use of Wilderness Areas
      "Except as otherwise provided in this Act, wilderness areas shall be devoted to the public purposes of recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use."
    2. FWS Policy
      1. 610 FW 2.36
      2. 605 FW 6
      3. 605 FW 7
    3. FS Wilderness Education Policy
    4. NPS Policy

      Section 6.4.2: Wilderness Interpretation and Education
      In the context of interpretive and educational planning, national park system units with wilderness resources will (1) operate public education programs designed to promote and perpetuate public awareness of and appreciation for wilderness character, resources, and ethics while providing for acceptable use limits; (2) focus on fostering an understanding of the concept of wilderness that includes respect for the resource, willingness to exercise self-restraint in demanding access to it, and an ability to adhere to appropriate, minimum-impact techniques; and (3) encourage the public to use and accept wilderness on its own terms-that is, the acceptance of an undeveloped, primitive environment and the assumption of the potential risks and responsibilities involved in using and enjoying wilderness areas. NPS interpretive plans and programs for wilderness parks will address the primary interpretive themes for wilderness. Education is among the most effective tools for dealing with wilderness use and management problems and should generally be applied before more restrictive management tools should be prohibited in NPS wilderness.
  2. Agency Guides, Templates, and Handbooks
    1. FS
      1. 10 Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge
        1. Element 4: Counting Instructions
      2. Strategic Plan: Wilderness Education
      3. Education Planning
        1. Wilderness Education Planning Primer
        2. Forest Service Wilderness Education Planning and Implementation Cycle
        3. Education Plan Guide
        4. Education Plan Outline
        5. Education Plan Worksheet
        6. Education Plan Template Issues Exercise
        7. Education Plan Template Package (created by Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards)
          1. Wilderness Education Plan Template Primer
          2. Education Plan Template
          3. Supporting Materials
          4. Action Plan Template
          5. Annual Review Template
      4. Effectiveness Monitoring
        1. Education Effectiveness Monitoring Guide
        2. Effectiveness Monitoring Checklist
        3. Monitoring Tasks Example
  3. Example Education Plans
    1. FWS
      1. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Interpretation and Education Plan
    2. FS
      1. Admiralty Island Wilderness Education Plan
      2. Apache-Sitgreaves Wilderness Education Plan
      3. Bitterroot Education Action Plan
      4. Boulder Creek/Mt. Thielsen/Rogue-Umpqua Divide Plan
      5. BWCAW Education Strategy
      6. BWCAW Education Plan
      7. Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Education Plan
      8. Fossil Spring Wilderness Education Plan
      9. Granite Chief Wilderness Education Plan
      10. Green Mountain National Forest Education Plan
      11. Gros Ventre Wilderness Education Plan
      12. Granite Chief Wilderness Education Plan
      13. Holy Cross Wilderness Education Plan
      14. Hume Lake Ranger District Wilderness Education Plan
      15. Indian Peaks Wilderness Education Plan
      16. Los Padres National Forest Wilderness Education Plan
      17. Malhuer National Forest Wilderness Education Plan
      18. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Education Plan
      19. Mazatzal Wilderness Education Plan
      20. Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area Education Plan
      21. Region 6 Wilderness Interpretation and Education Plan
      22. Salt Lake Ranger District Wilderness Education Plan
      23. Sawtooth Wildlands Education Plan
      24. Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Education Plan
      25. Southern Cascades Wilderness Education Plan
      26. Stanislaus National Forest Wilderness Education Plan
      27. White Mountain National Forest
        1. Education Plan
        2. Education Message Matrix
    3. NPS
      1. Gulf Islands National Seashore Wilderness Education Plan
      2. Lava Beds National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan
      3. Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Interpretation and Education Section
      4. Shenandoah National Park Wilderness Education Plan
  4. K-12 Curriculum Resources
    1. Wilderness Investigations
      This new curriculum is meant to motivate teachers to get students outside to investigate wilderness and wild elements locally. The curriculum is available online for grades 3-4, 5-9 and high school. Two-day teacher training workshops are also available.
      1. Toolkit for Grades 3-4
        1. Cover page
        2. Introduction
        3. Module 1
        4. Module 2
        5. Module 3
        6. Module 4
        7. Module 5
        8. Appendix
        9. My Wild Places Journal
        10. Montana Only
      2. Toolkit for Grades 5-8
        1. Module 1
        2. Module 2
        3. Module 3
        4. Module 4
        5. Module 5
        6. Appendix
      3. Toolkit for High School
        1. Cover
        2. Inside Cover
        3. Introduction
        4. Table of Contents
        5. Section 1 Cover
        6. Wilderness 101 Lesson 1
        7. Wilderness 101 Lesson 2 Option 1
        8. Wilderness 101 Lesson 2 Option 2A
        9. Wilderness 101 Lesson 2 Option 2B
        10. Wilderness 101 Lesson 2 Option 3
        11. Wilderness 101 Lesson 3
        12. Wilderness 101 Lesson 4
        13. Wilderness 101 Lesson 5
        14. Wilderness 101 Lesson 6
        15. Wilderness 101 Lesson 7
        16. Self-Guided Study Guide 1 Wild by Law
        17. Self-guided Study Guide 2 American Values
        18. Section 2 Cover
        19. Wilderness Applications Lesson 1
        20. Wilderness Applications Lesson 2
        21. Wilderness Applications Lesson 3
        22. Wilderness Applications Lesson 4
        23. Wilderness Applications Lesson 5
        24. Wilderness Applications Lesson 6
        25. Wilderness Applications Lesson 7
        26. Wilderness Applications Lesson 8
        27. Wilderness Applications Lesson 9
        28. Section 3 Cover
        29. Wilderness Hero 1
        30. Wilderness Hero 2
        31. Wilderness Hero 3
        32. Wilderness Hero 4
        33. Wilderness Hero 5
        34. Wilderness Hero 6
        35. Wilderness Hero 7
        36. Wilderness Hero 8
        37. Wilderness Hero Biography Template
        38. Section 4 Cover
        39. Wilderness Profile 1
        40. Wilderness Profile 2
        41. Wilderness Profile 3
        42. Wilderness Profile 4
        43. Wilderness Profile 5
        44. Wilderness Profile 6
        45. Wilderness Profile 7
        46. Wilderness Profile 8
        47. Appendix Cover
        48. Appendix - Wilderness Cone of Experience
        49. Appendix - Tips for Taking Students into the Field
        50. Appendix - Wilderness Act
        51. Appendix - Wild Journaling
    2. Teton 10 Wilderness Curriculum
    3. Wilderness and Land Ethic Curriculum (K-12)
    4. Wilderness Views and Teacher Resources
      An interactive multimedia website. The module, offered in both English and Spanish, contains interviews with wilderness management staff, researchers and volunteers, 360 degree panoramas, soundscapes, and interactive screens to test the viewer's knowledge. A teacher resource center provides educators with standardized lesson plans and activities.
    5. Teacher Workshop Handbook
  5. Training Materials
    1. PowerPoint Presentations
      1. Wilderness Education - Management Powerpoint (138 MB)
        Highlights types and uses of wilderness education, presents a variety of historical and present-day examples and provides advice and resources.
      2. Wilderness Education - Rekindling the Flame (41.1 MB)
        Highlights strategies to revive, re-emphasize, refresh, and evaluate education programs.
      3. A Wilderness Forever Future: The Need for Wilderness Education (10.1)
        Presentation focuses on challenges related to public perceptions of wilderness and opportunities. Examples presented are from the Shenandoah Wilderness.
      4. Green Mountain National Forest Wilderness Education Training (12.1 MB)
        Highlights some of the forest’s wilderness areas and recent additions, covers the public purposes of wilderness, and explore the role of Wilderness Rangers.
    2. Handouts
      1. Selected Undesirable Behaviors
      2. Wilderness Education Techniques
  6. Reference Materials
    1. Research and Publications
      1. Authority of the Resource
        Dr. George Wallace 7ppg. This paper outlines an approach to wilderness education that emphasizes convincing visitors to do the right thing for the wilderness instead of a more authoritative approach.
      2. Designing Your Wilderness Education Plan
        Kristen Meyer and Susan Thomas. 27ppg. This paper presents general information and guidelines for writing a wilderness education action plan. This is the result of a challenge cost share project between the Forest Service and Wilderness Watch.
      3. Education, the Key to Preservation
        Gregory F. Hansen. 1989. Presented at Managing America's Enduring Wilderness Resource: A Conference. Minneapolis, MN.
      4. The Efficacy of Visitor Education Programs
        Scott Reid and Jeff Marion. This paper assesses the efficacy of low impact visitor education based on a review of existing research in backcountry and wilderness settings.
      5. An Evaluation of the Wilderness and Land Ethic Curriculum and Teacher Workshops
        Kari Gunderson and Leo H. McAvoy. April 2003. International Journal of Wilderness: Volume 9(1): 38-40, 35.
      6. Wilderness Visitor Education: Information About Alternative Techniques
        Joseph E. Doucette and David N. Cole. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-295. Ogden, UT: USDA For. Serv., Intermountain Research Station 37p. Leopold Publication Number 234. 1993.
      7. Wild Child: A Resource Manual for Youth Wilderness Education Professionals
        Forest Service Wilderness Advisory Group. This document compiles input from a wide range of professionals promoting wilderness education for youth. It is a compendium of resources meant to benefit educators at the field level as well leaders at the programmatic level. The intent has been to cover a breadth of areas critical to ensuring the success of youth wilderness education programs.
    2. Websites
      1. Transforming Youth Outdoors
        An online community and currated collection of outdoor education best practices and learning resources for individuals and organizations working to get youth outdoors.
      2. Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute Publication Search
      3. Leave No Trace, Inc.
      4. Sierra Wild
      5. Educational Resources Information Center
      6. Leopold Education Project
      7. Wilderness Stewardship Reference System (WSRS)
        1. Education
  7. Program Materials
    1. Handouts, Brochures, Forms, etc.
      1. Leave No Trace
        1. Leave No Trace Certificate
        2. Essentials for Backpacking Pocket Card
        3. Essentials for Day Hiking Pocket Card
        4. When Nature Calls Card
      2. FS
        1. Wilderness Fast Facts - Gallatin NF example
        2. BWCAW Wind and Fire Web Page
        3. Pacific Northwest Wilderness Pocket Guide
        4. Pacific Northwest Wilderness Outfitter Pocket Guide
        5. Sawtooth NF Boy Scout Program flyer
        6. Sawtooth NF Campfire brochure
        7. Sawtooth NF Fire Pans brochure
        8. Sawtooth NF LNT Program Survey
        9. Sawtooth NF Stock User's Guide - Microsoft Publisher booklet format
        10. Sawtooth NF restaurant display 1
        11. Sawtooth NF restaurant display 2
        12. Uncompahgre Wilderness Opportunity Guide
      3. NPS
        1. NPS 2007 Wilderness Fact Sheet
        2. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Wilderness Rack Card
        3. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Newspaper Wilderness Article "New Apostle Islands Wilderness Honors Gaylord Nelson"
        4. Badlands NP Wilderness Area Handout
        5. Gulf Islands NS Wilderness Rack Card
        6. Petrified Forest NP Virtual Tours
        7. Saguaro National Park Wilderness Handout
        8. Wilderness Values Article (Chiricahua National Monument)
    2. Program Outlines
      1. Evening Campfire Program (Shenandoah NP)
      2. Puppet Show (Sawtooth NF)
      3. What is Wilderness Activity Outline (Gulf Islands National Seashore)
      4. Wilderness Metaphors Activity Outline (Gulf Islands National Seashore)
      5. Wilderness Resource Immersion Outline - Shenandoah NP example
      6. Wilderness, Who Cares For It? Activity Outline (Gulf Islands National Seashore)
      7. Wildlands Education Program (Sawtooth NF)
        1. Binder (.zip file)
      8. Wilderness Evening Program (Lava Beds National Park) (26.3 MB)
        An evening program for the public focusing on the Lava Beds Wilderness. Provides a short history of wilderness in addition to many diverse and inspirations images.
    3. Junior Ranger/Kid/Youth Activities
      1. Chiricahua NM "What is Wilderness?" Worksheet
      2. Junior Ranger Wilderness Activity 7 (Fire Island National Seashore)
      3. The Wild Side of Shenandoah: Ranger Explorer Activity Guide
      4. Wilderness Explorer Junior Ranger Program
        The new Wilderness Explorer Junior Ranger activity book is designed for ages 8 through adult, targeting two groups: Kids who already may have completed the Junior Ranger book, and older kids drawn to the program. The book is flexible enough to adapt to any area with wilderness resources (whether formally designated or not). Junior Rangers can complete it by individual work, by asking questions of adults and rangers, and by research at a visitor center or on the Internet. The book also contains an answer key.
        1. Activities and Adventures Book
        2. Certificate
        3. Materials Set
        4. Patch (Patches must be ordered from Tammy at Carolina Emblem Company, 864-468-4963)
      5. Kids Guide & Activity Book to Eastern Nevada Wilderness
        1. 8.5" x 11" (49 pages | 10.1 MB)
        2. 17" x 10" (24 pages | 11 MB)
      6. Nature Journal Artist's Workbook
        1. Instructions
        2. Workbook
    4. Outdoor Explorers Mentoring Program
      The Outdoor Explorers Mentoring Program is an outdoor education program that provides monthly outdoor recreation and education experiences for Bigs and Littles in a local Big/Brothers/Big Sisters chapter. Using program elements designed by the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center, a local college/university outdoor organization (mentors/planners) and a federal agency (program overseers), work with their BB/BS partners to plan, promote, and facilitate meaningful and memorable outdoor experiences. Although initiated in Missoula, Montana, the program's replication guide can be used to start an outdoor mentoring program in your community.
      1. Promo video
      2. Blog
      3. Replication Guide
      4. Select Replication Guide Appendices
        1. Replication Checklist
        2. Appendix B - Outdoor Activity Planning Sheet
        3. Appendix C - Safety Log
        4. Appendix E - OPTIONAL Student Volunteer Application
        5. Appendix H - Post-Activity Evaluation LONG FORM
        6. Appendix I - Post-Activity Evaluation SHORT FORM
        7. Appendix J - Long-Term Participant Survey
    5. Posters, Waysides, and Displays
      1. Visitor Center Wilderness Display (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park)
      2. "Stepping into Wilderness" wayside sign (Great Sand Dunes National Park)
      3. "Chiricahua Mountain Wilderness" wayside sign (Chiricahua National Monument)
      4. "Wilderness" wayside sign (Chiricahua National Monument)
      5. Visitor Contact Forms
        1. Sawtooth NF Large Group Contact form
        2. Sawtooth NF Large Group Contact letter
      6. Signs and Posters Toolbox