Future Forest Steward Program
The Future Forest Steward Program offers youth (ages 8-12 years old) an opportunity to learn about the forests of Pennsylvania and the important concept of forest stewardship. Pennsylvania youth often know very little about the forests and natural areas that cover the state and this educational initiative can get kids excited about and interested in Penn’s Woods. Penn State Department of Ecosystem Science and Management and The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry teamed up to offer The Future Forest Steward Program.
Participation in the Future Forest Steward Program is free and relies on cooperating adults (such as teachers, youth group leaders, 4-H volunteers, Scout leaders, and other adults working with youth) to help facilitate learning. Adults do not need to be naturalists or forestry experts to carry out the Future Forest Steward Program, but an interest and willingness to learn right along with youth is essential. The program works in both formal and non-formal educational settings.
The program format is straightforward. Youth read the interactive Future Forest Steward publication (individually or as a group*), discuss the questions, and then participate in a forest stewardship activity led by the adult educator or helper. A Future Forest Steward Educator/Helper Guide (for adult educators or helpers) accompanies the Future Forest Steward publication to provide answers and ideas for activities that youth can undertake, but you may design your own activity as well. After participants complete the three steps, the adult submits the "Tally Sheet" at the end of the Educator/Helper Guide to receive a Future Forest Steward patch for each participant.
It is that simple! However, the benefits are potentially far reaching. This program encourages youth understanding about forest stewardship, collaborative learning through discussion, and hands-on learning through activity. It raises awareness of stewardship concepts and the importance of being a steward of the natural world. After all, today’s youth will be responsible for the forests that give Pennsylvania its very name, and they will pass them on to future generations.
To find out more about the program or request free hard copies of the Future Forest Steward publication for your group, contact the Renewable Resources Extension Office at Penn State 814-863-0401 or 1-800-235-9473, or via email at rnrExt@psu.edu.