Natural Resource Schools: Education's Better Outdoors is an innovative partnership between the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and South Carolina Department of Education.
The project was conceived through multiple meetings between South Carolina's State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Jim Rex, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Director, John Frampton.
The concept is to integrate fish, wildlife, natural resources, outdoor skills and conservation education into all aspects of the classroom to improve student achievement, behavior, critical thinking skills, ability to problem solve and attitudes and behaviors towards natural resources, fish, wildlife, outdoor activities and conservation.
At participating schools, natural resources, conservation and outdoor skills are incorporated into all areas of the schools, including classroom instruction, after-school programs, field trips, service projects and end-of-the-year culminating experiences.
This innovative program is being piloted at Palmetto Middle School in Anderson County, Rice Creek Elementary in Richland County, McCracken Junior High School in Spartanburg County and North Central Middle School in Kershaw County. As positive results are achieved, Natural Resource Schools will be implemented statewide as a public school choice option. Students and parents statewide will have the choice to attend a school that offers fish, wildlife and natural resource-themed activities throughout all areas of the school.
Studies indicate that exposure to natural settings and "green" activities reduces symptoms of ADD and provides beneficial outcomes long after such experiences.
* Evidence suggests that children and adults benefit so much from contact with nature that land conservation can now be viewed as a public health strategy.
* Children are more physically active when outdoors and exhibit stronger senses of problem-solving ability, creativity, self-esteem and self discipline.
* Children exhibit fewer ADD symptoms and have an enhanced ability to focus after outdoor activities such as camping and fishing.
* Children with outdoor classroom curricula generally score higher on measures of knowledge transfer.
Outdoor activities in natural settings provide an unparalleled opportunity for parents to enjoy some personal downtime while experiencing quality family time with their children in a relaxing atmosphere.
Increasing access to a wide range of green exercise activities for all children will produce substantial public health benefits and increase the likelihood of understanding the need to care for natural resources, thus leading to a transformation of people and nature.
Natural Resource Schools will reconnect youth to the outdoors and their local heritage while also helping teachers improve student learning and behavior.