4–H Wildlife Stewards Program
The Oregon State University 4–H Wildlife Stewards program received the 2008 Natural Resources Conservation Award presented jointly by NIFA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and officials from the National 4–H Headquarters in a ceremony at the 73rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. The Oregon State program was chosen for its exemplary contributions to wildlife conservation and environmental education.
The Oregon State 4–H Wildlife Stewards program trains and supports science education volunteers, enabling them to work with science programs in community schools across the state. The program equips youth with hands-on learning experiences that foster exploration, discovery, and a passion for the environment and science. Volunteers in the 4–H Wildlife Stewards program undergo 30 hours of training and commit to a minimum of 50 hours of service to a local school community site. Evaluation results suggest that the program is having a positive impact on student interest and skills in science. It is designed to become a national model for supporting science education. This innovative program received support from the National Science Foundation and other national and regional environmental education foundations and grant programs. This is the first time a 4–H Program of Distinction received the Natural Resources Conservation award.
In addition to NIFA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the award program is supported by the Wildlife Management Institute, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Boone and Crockett Club, and the National 4–H Council. NIFA is the parent organization to National 4–H Headquarters.
During the award ceremony, NIFA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to continue their partnership and renew policies and administrative arrangements that provide for cooperative programs of mutual interest in natural resources and conservation for another 5 years. The MOU builds on previous agreements to work together to provide educational programs for 4–H youth and volunteers to learn, first-hand, about fish and wildlife resources and engage in stewardship projects to protect natural resources. The agreement brings together the extensive network of the 4–H and land-grant university systems and their expertise in positive youth development with the Fish and Wildlife Service's scientific expertise and knowledge of how to connect people with nature.
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