The Missouri Department of Conservation has opened the Discover Nature Schools (DNS) teacher website portal this month as a way to connect teachers with conservation-education curriculum and materials.
Steven Juhlin, education program coordinator, said the new portal is available to Missouri teachers who participate or have an interest in MDC’s Discover Nature Schools program.
He said they offer units for grades pre-K, 3rd to 5th grade, 6th to 8th grade and high school.
The DNS program began in 2007 and provides instructional materials for teachers and students about Missouri’s native plants, wildlife and habitats to connect them with nature.
There are more than 1,600 Missouri schools that take part in the program. The units can be used in public schools, private schools and for homeschooling.
“What is significant for us is that we have curriculum at some level in every district in every part of the state,” Juhlin said. “It is important for us to get the conservation message out to every student in the state as best we can. It is designed for schools in both rural or urban areas to benefit.”
Juhlin said all materials are free to teachers. The conservation department offers a teacher instructor guide and will provide every student with a student book and a science notebook for each unit that they can keep.
In addition, teachers that take professional development training are eligible to receive grant funding from the department to provide materials they need for activities and games. They also provide field trip transportation reimbursement for outdoor exploration.
“The grant funding is not competitive,” Juhlin said. “Any school that participates in the program and whose teachers have gone through the training are eligible to receive the funding.”
He said every school district has an education consultant from the conservation department available to them.
“The educational consultants can meet one-on-one with teachers,” Juhlin said. “We can provide training in their districts. This teacher portal allows teachers to have instant access to materials and they can order educational posters. In the past, teachers would have to go through a consultant or fill out a form and mail it in to get the posters.”
The department’s new DNS teacher portal provides teachers opportunities to:
Download free instructional materials,
Access grant applications,
Request class sets of student books and science notebooks,
Order education posters and MDC publications,
Register for free teacher workshops, and
Post questions and ideas to the educational bulletin board for teacher collaboration.
Teachers can access the DNS teacher portal at mdc.mo.gov/teachers.
For more information, contact the conservation department’s Northwest regional office at 816-271-3100.