FAWN takes place in a forest environment, usually one with a half-mile or so round robin hiking trail. Seven or eight learning stations are set up at intervals along this trail and manned by resource professionals. Learning stations usually include forest management, forest products, forest history, soils, wildlife, tree and plant identification, water quality and Project Learning Tree (PLT).
The students, all sixth graders from the local school system, are divided into seven or eight groups matching the number of learning stations. They are usually in classroom units of 25 or 30 students per group. Each group is given a different colored tee shirt with the FAWN logo to keep them distinct. They then move around the trail, stopping at each learning station for 20-25 minutes. Each group is accompanied by a “trail guide” who acts as a timekeeper and teacher’s aide.
The stations provide a positive, hands-on, interactive learning experience for the students. They will feel soil, count tree rings, handle a snake, do several PLT exercises, play learning games and be educated about why they need trees and why management is necessary to keep the products coming while protecting the intrinsic values of the forest.
They will learn to see the forest differently, not only as a beautiful place full of trees where animals live, but as an integral part of their everyday lives. In addition, the teachers are given resource materials and names of people they can call on to continue their education about important environmental issues. This will reinforce the message the students receive at FAWN. Through pre-testing and post-testing methods of approximately 500 students a year we have discovered that the students have gained better knowledge of forestry and their environment after attending FAWN.