Hafer teaches students of all ages about the importance of wildlife conservation, including these third graders from Wilson Elementary School in Zanesville, Ohio.
EDGEFIELD, S.C.— Nicole Hafer from Zanesville, Ohio, has been named the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 2008 Conservation Educator of the Year. Hafer is the Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District’s Education Specialist.
Hafer teaches outdoor education to local youth from grades K-12 as well as teaching a nature interpretation course at Zane State College, a requirement for its Park, Recreation and Wildlife Association degree program. Hafer’s entire career has been dedicated to helping her students gain a better understanding and appreciation of the natural world around them.
Hafer makes learning fun for her students by making wild turkey calls, planting trees and butterfly gardens and constructing bluebird trails. She also likes to incorporate games into her lesson plans to keep her students’ interest.
“It’s really thrilling to see my students get excited about nature,” Hafer said. “I teach a diverse range of students, but it is especially rewarding for me to see children from urban areas become amazed at seeing something in nature for the first time that many of us might take for granted. Giving our youth the opportunity to experience the outdoors is something that NWTF staff, volunteers and I are all passionate about— that’s why I’m so proud to receive this award.”
As Conservation Educator of the Year, Hafer was awarded a $500 grant, which she says will be used to purchase materials for her Wild Turkey Education classroom program. The remainder of the grant will be used to purchase seed mix for wildlife food plots, which her students will plant in Ohio’s Blue Rock State Park as part of Hafer’s Kids Conservation Campers program. She will also receive a paid trip to the NWTF’s 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show, held Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, 2009, at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.
“I’m excited about going to Nashville for the Convention and Sport Show,” Hafer added. “I have been to several NWTF Women in the Outdoors events in the past and have always wanted to attend the Convention. I’m looking forward to meeting other educators and outdoor enthusiasts there, as well as attend some of the excellent seminars.”
When asked if she had any advice on how other teachers can incorporate nature into their lesson plans, Hafer suggested that simply taking their classes outside can make a difference in how students learn.
“Activities focused on nature can be worked into nearly every subject and content standard and help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills,” Hafer noted. “Plus, kids prefer being outside to being in the classroom, and that’s inspiring to any educator.”
To learn more about the Conservation Educator of the Year Award program or to nominate a special educator for 2009, Click Here.
For more information about the NWTF’s 33rd annual Convention and Sport Show, Click Here.