Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
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
. Date of last update: 5/8/13.
Law and Policy
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."
610 FW 2.36
605 FW 6
605 FW 7
FS Wilderness Education Policy 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.
Agency Guides, Templates, and Handbooks
10 Year Wilderness Stewardship Challenge
Element 4: Counting Instructions
Strategic Plan: Wilderness Education Education Planning
Wilderness Education Planning Primer
Forest Service Wilderness Education Planning and Implementation Cycle
Education Plan Guide
Education Plan Template
Education Plan Worksheet
Education Plan Template Issues Exercise Effectiveness Monitoring
Education Effectiveness Monitoring Guide
Effectiveness Monitoring Plan Template
Effectiveness Monitoring Checklist
Monitoring Tasks Example NPS
Wilderness Education and Partnership Plan
Celebrate Wilderness: Wilderness Education and Interpretation Resource Notebook. This online copy of the NPS handbook contains a variety of information on wilderness legislation, history, and stewardship, while providing examples of public affair materials, articles, site bulletins, and educational and interpretative products. Example Education Plans
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness Interpretation and Education Plan FS
Admiralty Island Wilderness Education Plan
Apache-Sitgreaves Wilderness Education Plan
Bitterroot Education Action Plan
Boulder Creek/Mt. Thielsen/Rogue-Umpqua Divide Plan
BWCAW Education Strategy
BWCAW Education Plan
Charles C. Deam Wilderness Education Plan
Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Education Plan
Fossil Spring Wilderness Education Plan
Granite Chief Wilderness Education Plan
Green Mountain National Forest Education Plan
Gros Ventre Wilderness Education Plan
Granite Chief Wilderness Education Plan
Holy Cross Wilderness Education Plan
Hume Lake Ranger District Wilderness Education Plan
Indian Peaks Wilderness Education Plan
Los Padres National Forest Wilderness Education Plan
Malhuer National Forest Wilderness Education Plan
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Education Plan
Mazatzal Wilderness Education Plan
Salt Lake Ranger District Wilderness Education Plan
Sawtooth Wildlands Education Plan
Sawtooth Wilderness Plan Education Goals
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Education Plan
Southern Cascades Wilderness Education Plan
Stanislaus National Forest Wilderness Education Plan White Mountain National Forest
Education Message Matrix NPS
Gulf Islands National Seashore Wilderness Education Plan
Lava Beds National Park Wilderness Stewardship Plan
Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Interpretation and Education Section
Shenandoah National Park Wilderness Education Plan K-12 Curriculum Resources
This new curriculum is meant to motivate teachers to get students outside to investigate wilderness and wild elements locally. The curriculum is delivered via 2-day teacher training workshops in which teachers are introduced to the 1st module. Attendees are offered membership in an exclusive online community for access to and training for the other 5 modules, and a supportive environment to facilitate adaptation of the curriculum to local needs.
Teton 10 Wilderness Curriculum
Wilderness and Land Ethic Curriculum (K-12)
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.
Teacher Workshop Handbook Training Materials
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.
Wilderness Education - Rekindling the Flame (41.1 MB) Highlights strategies to revive, re-emphasize, refresh, and evaluate education programs.
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.
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. Handouts
Selected Undesirable Behaviors
Wilderness Education Techniques Reference Materials
Research and Publications
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.
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.
Education, the Key to Preservation Gregory F. Hansen. 1989. Presented at Managing America's Enduring Wilderness Resource: A Conference. Minneapolis, MN.
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.
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.
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.
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. Websites
Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute Publication Search
Leave No Trace, Inc.
Educational Resources Information Center
Leopold Education Project
Wilderness Stewardship Reference System (WSRS)
Education Program Materials
Handouts, Brochures, Forms, etc.
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace Certificate
Essentials for Backpacking Pocket Card
Essentials for Day Hiking Pocket Card
When Nature Calls Card FS
Wilderness Fast Facts - Gallatin NF example
BWCAW Wind and Fire Web Page
Sawtooth NF Boy Scout Service Project Kit
Sawtooth NF Boy Scout Program flyer
Sawtooth NF Campfire brochure
Sawtooth NF Fire Pans brochure
Sawtooth NF Large Group brochure - Microsoft Publisher booklet format
Sawtooth NF LNT Program Survey
Sawtooth NF Stock User's Guide - Microsoft Publisher booklet format
Sawtooth NF restaurant display 1
Sawtooth NF restaurant display 2
Uncompahgre Wilderness Opportunity Guide NPS
NPS 2007 Wilderness Fact Sheet
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Wilderness Rack Card
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Newspaper Wilderness Article "New Apostle Islands Wilderness Honors Gaylord Nelson"
Badlands NP Wilderness Area Handout
Petrified Forest NP Wilderness Virtual Tour
Saguaro National Park Wilderness Handout
Wilderness Values Article (Chiricahua National Monument) Program Outlines
Evening Campfire Program (Shenandoah NP)
The Magnitude of Wilderness Lesson Plan (Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP)
Puppet Show (Sawtooth NF)
What is Wilderness Activity Outline (Gulf Islands National Seashore)
Wilderness Metaphors Activity Outline (Gulf Islands National Seashore)
Wilderness Resource Immersion Outline - Shenandoah NP example
Wilderness, Who Cares For It? Activity Outline (Gulf Islands National Seashore) Wildlands Education Program (Sawtooth NF)
Binder (.zip file)
Program Effectiveness Evaluation
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. Junior Ranger/Kid/Youth Activities
Chiricahua NM "What is Wilderness?" Worksheet
Junior Ranger Wilderness Activity 7 (Fire Island National Seashore)
The Wild Side of Shenandoah: Ranger Explorer Activity Guide 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.
Activities and Adventures Book
Patch Kids Guide & Activity Book to Eastern Nevada Wilderness
8.5" x 11" (49 pages | 10.1 MB)
17" x 10" (24 pages | 11 MB) 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.
Replication Guide Posters, Waysides, and Displays
Visitor Center Wilderness Display (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park)
"Stepping into Wilderness" wayside sign (Great Sand Dunes National Park)
"Chiricahua Mountain Wilderness" wayside sign (Chiricahua National Monument)
"Wilderness" wayside sign (Chiricahua National Monument) Visitor Contact Forms
Sawtooth NF Large Group Contact form
Sawtooth NF Large Group Contact letter
Signs and Posters Toolbox