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Nature Conservancy offers global curriculum, videos and virtual field trips

As parents become teachers and teachers learn new ways of instruction, during the COVID-19 sheltering in place orders, assistance from outside sources can be helpful.

In an effort to support those in this endeavor, The Nature Conservancy, which is a global environmental nonprofit that works to create a world where people and nature can thrive, has created a website that will educate and interest audiences of all ages.

This “Nature Lab” as it is being referred, has a downloadable curriculum, videos, and virtual field trips with amazing imagery that allows students from across the globe to enjoy adventures in science.

“This is a one-stop-shop. Parents don’t have to look any further, teachers don’t have to look any further. It’s all right here,” Mississippi director of The Nature Conservancy Alex Littlejohn said.

“This website is built for going as in-depth or as not in-depth as you want to go,” he said, with a curriculum dedicated for grades K through 12.

Compiled by the Conservancy’s 550 scientists from around the world, the website includes interactive lesson plans that are in keeping with school standards and they can be customized for each classroom.

As the father of a 7-year-old, Littlejohn said, his son has enjoyed the videos, which are the virtual side of the curriculum.

One topic in point that father and son have enjoyed is that of the “How Dirt Works to Sustainable Forestry.”

“This video took us outside looking for earthworms. It was really cool,” Littlejohn said, adding, “The materials and videos really bring each topic to life, with real-world examples that Mississippi students, parents and teachers can enjoy around the kitchen table.”

The idea to create a website for youth, Littlejohn said, stemmed from the coronavirus outbreak.

“With the staff being 50 percent parents, we all have students and have seen this struggle, so we asked ourselves, ‘How can we give out a resource to parents and teachers,’ and this how it (the virtual nature lab) all came about,” he said.

The videos used on the website already existed, he said, so it became just a matter of compiling information and making it a curriculum for kids.

In addition to the educational element of the Nature Lab, Littlejohn said, the website also supports the understanding of our natural resources.

“We know they are there, but sometimes we don’t know the uniqueness of them,” he said.

Littlejohn said he is hoping The Nature Conservancy will continue to keep the website up even after the sheltering in place orders have been lifted.

“I am so impressed with it. The Nature Lab gives teachers, students, and families everything they need to start exploring and understanding nature around the globe alongside Conservancy scientists,” Littlejohn said, and while the website was created to help students learn the science behind how nature works for us, it will also help them understand how to keep it running strong.

To enjoy the Nature Lab, visit www.nature.org/mississippi, and for those who do not have access to a computer, on a mobile device they can link up via social media.

“All the links are there. They will have to find the Nature Lab post and then it will take you to the link,” Littlejohn said.

All the material for viewing is free.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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