Habitat & Conservation  |  11/10/2022

Promoting Conservation to a New Generation in Southwest Indiana

Photos by Shane Weinberg

Education is the foundation for change, and the key to conservation

By Olivia Fry, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist in Southwest Indiana

Conservation began in an elementary school art room for me. At six years old I watched duck eggs incubate, took “notes,” and learned about the importance of the birds we were hatching. I had the privilege of participating in this animal’s life cycle, and this unconventional teaching method sparked my interest in biology.

Education is the foundation for change, and the key to conservation. Although hatching a duckling wasn’t exactly a conservation effort, I went on to learn about Indiana’s native ducks and grew to love them. As Baba Dioum’s famous quote says, “In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.” Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever understand this philosophy by making it part of our mission to conserve pheasants, quail and other wildlife through education and conservation advocacy.

Since beginning my position in February 2022 I have had the pleasure of working with children in conservation education. In May I participated in Knox County Goes Native, which was an initiative promoting the planting of native species and the benefits they provide to pollinators and monarchs.

At my station I taught children how to dye fabrics using dye extracted from Indiana’s native plants. We also made perfume using Virginia mountain mint, wild bergamot and gray-headed coneflower. The activities provided a crafting activity while learning the importance of native plants to our pollinators.

In July 2022 I took a group of kids and their parents on a Nature Scavenger Hunt at a local nature park in Vincennes, Indiana. This educational event allowed the kids to find the native plants that were blooming in the park and learn how to identify them using color, flower shape, stem shape, hairs on stem and other characteristics.

Staff Photo

The scavenger hunt approach sparked exciting reactions when the children found the right plant and then learned how wildlife and insects use the plant. At the end of the walk, the kids were enthused about plants — a resounding success in my book! Some kids identified their favorite plants based only on appearances, but a few made their selections by the benefits to their favorite wildlife species. For instance, partridge pea and wild senna are important food sources for gamebirds.

Sparking the interest in conservation to a new generation is how we ensure that habitat and the species we love will continue long after we are gone. We can set that spark by educating our youth through outreach events, field days, youth hunts, programs such as Milkweed in the Classroom and Pollinator Habitat Outreach through Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.

For questions on how you can implement conservation education in your community or where to find more information on outreach events led by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, contact your local Farm Bill biologist or Education& Outreach Coordinator. To find your local Farm Bill biologist, go to pheasantsforever.org/findabiologist.

By Olivia Fry a Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist in Southwest Indiana

This story originally appeared in the 2022 Fall Issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to be the first to read more great upland content like this, become a member today!