Cornell Natural Resources
and Environmental Sciences
Youth Education Program
What makes the Cornell Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences Youth Education Program unique is its emphasis on engaging teachers, non-formal educators, and youth in authentic inquiry or research. There are many approaches to conducting youth education -- including field natural history, recreation, and aesthetic/spiritual -- which are used by nature centers, outdoor education programs, and elsewhere. However, we feel a program that is tied to Cornell University should take advantage of the resources that only a university can offer, including a link to research and sound science applied to management. The research activities in which youth are involved include field and lab experiments, monitoring, and participatory action research. Through engaging students in authentic inquiry, the Youth Program helps educators address the new National Science Education Standards, which call for pre-college students to conduct authentic research in collaboration with community members and universities.
In addition to its emphasis on authentic inquiry, the Youth Program includes numerous publications with activities that engage youth in observing and exploring their environment, and in learning about natural resources management. All of these have a strong emphasis on science. They are generally geared toward youth aged 9-12 (but can be adapted for younger ages) and help prepare these youth for the more advanced research projects.
The Youth Program includes these major initiatives. Environmental Inquiry (EI), emphasizes authentic inquiry or research. The Garden Mosaics program focuses on connecting youth and elders to investigate the mosaic of plants, people, and cultures in gardens. Finally, Experience 4-H Natural Resources includes activities for younger youth to explore their environment.