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What Is an Environmental Conservation Education?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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An environmental conservation education prepares students for education work related to the environment or careers in environmental protection. Degrees at varying levels are available, usually as part of environmental science or education programs at colleges and universities. Graduates may need to apply for additional certifications if they want to work as teachers, depending on the age range they wish to teach and where they may be working. Continuing education is also an important part of environmental conservation education, because advances in the sciences can result in shifting standards and practices in the industry.

Some programs are designed to directly prepare educators. Attendees are familiar with environmental conservation topics, and may have a specific focus on a subject like wetlands or sustainable forestry. In an environmental conservation education program, they learn about how to provide outreach to members of the public. This can include age-appropriate environmental education, activities, and curriculum development. Legal requirements for teachers can also be discussed, including curriculum standards set by government agencies.

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Environmental educators may work directly in the schools teaching science classes. They can also provide lectures and guest spots in a classroom, along with organized field trips and events. Others may work at camps or environmental facilities with a public outreach arm. They should be familiar with a variety of teaching techniques, including effective communication and information distribution. Environmental conservation education can also familiarize people with ways to use nature itself as a classroom, integrating direct interaction with the environment into a curriculum.

More generally, environmental conservation education can also provide training for people who want to work in conservation. This includes people directly involved in habitat restoration and protection along with policy makers and consultants. A person with training in this field can work for government agencies or organizations with an interest in the environment. Others may work for consulting firms or private companies that want to foreground conservation and responsibility in their work.

A master's degree in environmental conservation education is usually required for teachers and outreach professionals. Postgraduate degrees can be helpful for people who plan to work directly in conservation as well, and in some case a doctorate is strongly recommended. Professional organizations offer membership to people in this field so they can keep up with trends and information through trade journals, conferences, and workshops. These can help people develop new curricula, discuss effective outreach techniques, and work on responses to regulatory changes that may impact conservation practices.

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