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Pennsylvania Wildlife Leadership Academy-- looking for teens for summer residential programs!
Michelle Kittell, 11/30/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman:  I know so many homeschoolers who really love learning about the outdoors and the varied animals of Pennsylvania-- I think of all the homeschoolers who took part recently in the first day of buck season, or all those studying hard all year with their Envirothon teams, or the kids who love to go backpacking and hiking in our wonderful wilderness areas all over the state, or the students I know who've helped with bird-banding projects and other research at Powdermill Nature Reserve, or those who've entered the annual Duck Stamp art contest, or those who love to take nature photos. So I was delighted to get this notice from the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education (PICE), about two summer week-long programs offered for PA high schoolers-- and homeschoolers are of course welcome! Weeklong programs like this are also a great way for homeschool teens to get a first 'away from home' learning experience-- our own kids felt very ready for longer summer academic programs away from home after first doing a couple of weeklong residential programs like this. And often the mentors and teachers in programs like this will be happy to write needed recommendation letters when a student is applying to further programs or to college-- and most importantly students will have a unique opportunity to learn from real experts in the field, and then to develop their own project to carry on back in their own community. We'd love to hear from any students who earn the opportunity to take part! And even if your kids might be too young to take part in these programs, check out the organization's website-- they have a very fine free online magazine on naturalist studies in Pennsylvania, and they even welcome wildlife artwork submissions or articles from students. Some fine opportunities! See www.PICEweb.org

The Wildlife Leadership Academy is seeking youth from across the state interested in wildlife and conservation to participate in weeklong field school programs this summer. 
Participants study with top wildlife biologists and managers in the state and through the program are empowered to become ambassadors for conservation, completing service and leadership projects in their home communities throughout the year. 
 
John Felix, a principal at Donegal High School, called the program “all encompassing."
 
"It involves the study of biology, botany and plant science, conservation, game management…It also provides the opportunity for students to learn from authorities in these fields,” he said.

Instructor and professional ecologist Lisa Smith also commended the program. “The high caliber and sheer number of conservation professionals who are involved as instructors in this camp is beyond impressive, but more than that is the commitment of time, energy and passion that each of these instructors give to the students,” Smith said.
 
The Academy offers two field schools, each focusing on a single wildlife species. 
 
The Pennsylvania Bucktails field school focuses on white-tailed deer, a species of regard in the state for wildlife watchers and hunters alike. 
 
The second offering, Pennsylvania Drummers focuses on the state bird, the Ruffed Grouse.  
 
“The Ruffed Grouse is one the most popular upland game birds and also the state bird,” noted Mark Banker, regional biologist for The Ruffed Grouse Society.  “The Ruffed Grouse represents a large group of wildlife that uses the most imperiled forest habitat in Pennsylvania – young forests.”
 
The field school differs from other weeklong programs in part because students commit to participating in at least three outreach activities in their home communities after the field school experience, said Michele Kittell, the Academy's program coordinator. 
 
"We facilitate these outreach activities, encouraging students to participate in projects beyond their required activities," Kittell said.  "The conservation outreach focuses on environmental education, community service, media engagement, and/or participation in the arts. The goal of the Wildlife Leadership Academy field schools is to provide the students with the tools and knowledge to become informed leaders for wildlife conservation now and in the future.”
 
Graduates of the program have taken the Academy’s challenge to heart, having conducted more than 210 conservation education, communication, and service projects; engaged in 846 contact hours with the public; and reached an audience of more than 6,000 people across 40 counties in the state.
 
Wildlife Leadership Academy is a cooperative initiative involving several state agencies and conservation organizations and is administered by the Pennsylvania Institute for Conservation Education.  The program brings the knowledge and expertise of many prominent biologists, including representatives of Audubon PA, Kutztown University, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania State University,
Quality Deer Management Association, Ruffed Grouse Society, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers directly to high school students.
 
Applications are now available for the 2011 field schools.  Interested students can download an application by going to www.PICEweb.org and clicking on the youth programs link.  This year’s application deadline is April 1, 2011.  PA Drummers will be held at the Powdermill Nature Reserve in Westmoreland County June 21-25.  PA Bucktails will be held at Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County July 5-9.
 
For more information, contact Program Coordinator Michele Kittell, at mkittell@piceweb.org or (570)245-8518.
 
 
 
 


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