9 Planning Steps
Creating Successful Projects
Incorporating youth into any part of a conservation project requires providing content and challenges that consider and are geared to the learning skills and the age level of the target audience. Examples of learning skills and challenges to consider by age group:
- preschoolers should be offered challenges that relate language to objects and classify features of an object – such as bird, red feathers
- grades 1 to 4 should respond to challenges that help them connect logic to objects and events, classify objects by several features, practice ordering or categorizing in series or other distinguishing features – such as sun, tree, shade, cool; or bird, beak, wing, tail, food they hunt for; or bird type, color, shape, size, distinctive markings
- past grade 4 challenges should introduce abstractions and test hypothesis – such as preferred habitat of various birds, why; or different seasons for different plants, when; etc.
Youth are defined as any person up to age 25 when the human brain completes its development process. Childhood development specialists and educators would agree that certain skills are typically appropriate for different developmental phases. Understanding this can help plan more effective conservation projects or events.
Concepts of childhood development as defined in Stages 4, 5, and 6 in Erik Ericson’s 8 Stages of Development can help guide the planning for a conservation project or event that involves youth, from school age to young adult. The stages, relationships, and issues are described, according to developmental phases that roughly relate to learning from about age 7 to 11, from 11 years to 18, and from 18 to 25 years.
In Beyond Ecophobia, David Sobel offers guidance about development of empathy, exploration, and social action values as they relates to the impact of shocking environmental issues on willingness to learn or care about conservation.
Other information about child development can provide deeper insights into concepts to consider when planning a conservation project or event to involve youth.