For two decades, Texas Fish & Game has provided magazines to wildlife and agriculture classes in public schools throughout the Lone Star State. Now we are taking things to a new level by providing free weekly videos, articles, photos and lesson ideas to teachers in an e-newsletter format.
The content matches state required teaching objectives and comes with quizzes, lessons plans and various other assignment ideas.
"We have an opportunity to reach school children and educators with the in-depth, teaching oriented information Texas Fish & Game has provided since 1984," said Executive Editor Chester Moore.
"We are all excited to offer this service to help teachers who often have limited resources and students who can benefit from our unique and far-reaching wildlife, fisheries and conservation content."
The idea was first conceived by TF&G Publisher Roy Neves when he wanted to find a way to give more to Texas students.
"We have this unique magazine and all of this content that is not just fishing and hunting but conservation, biology and even Texas history. I thought it would be great to put something together that gave information to all educators that wanted to tap into our resources. We love what we do at TF&G and are excited to give a little back."
During the 2012 ICAST Show in Orlando a conversation Neves and his wife Ardia (who is director of advertising and a co-owner with Roy) and Moore got it kick-started.
"Children are extremely important to my wife Lisa and I. And I have been on my own doing wildlife education projects with schools since I was 20 years old so I was fired up at the potential for this project. The idea was to start small and then build from there and so far the response has been strong," Moore said.
Each Monday educators who sign up for the newsletter are sent a newsletter with links to a variety of stories and videos. The teachers are given a link to a special blog for their eyes only with the lessons and answers.
"What were trying to do is supplement what the teachers are doing in the classroom. My wife has been a teacher for 17 years so I know firsthand what the demands are versus the resources and this is our way of adding to that. Some teachers are using it for extra credit work while others are playing the videos to start class while still others are making full lessons from the newsletters. It is quite exciting," Moore said.
A typical newsletter consists of a video of the week, wildlife management story, fisheries story and then a strange and unique wildlife story.
"The best response has actually been to the stranger stories on things like the intelligence of king cobras and the mangy coyotes people are calling chupacabras. As someone into that kind of thing I can see why. It is fun but they way we are framing it gives plenty of facts and the latest research," Moore said.
TF&G Editor-In-Chief Don Zaidle said the daily e-mail newsletter has helped provide much fodder for the education project.
"We work super hard to put out a truly interesting newsletter and I am always sending Chester over stories that might be of interest to students and teachers. If there is one thing we do well at TF&G it is look deeper into outdoors issues than many others and that is why this education project is so exciting. It allows us to take it directly to the students of Texas," Zaidle said.
TF&G knows education is not just about public schools although that has been where the bulk of the effort has been put in the past.
"We are totally open to working with educators in private schools and home schools. In fact, we have numerous home school providers already subscribing to the newsletter by word of mouth," Moore said.
An event earlier into his career inspired his desire to educate children about wildlife.
"I could not have been six months into my career and read a report about Texas school children that when asked if the whitetail deer was an endangered species said yes. Actually a majority of them said this which shocked me considering Texas is home to the largest deer herd in the world."
Moore said he found out there were many wildlife-educated children in Texas through various wildlife and Ag classes but inner city kids in particular were lacking.
"In 2013 we are going to reach more into inner city schools and to biology and life science teachers and all across the board really. We will also be expanding greatly the number of videos we have and adding .mp3 downloads and podcast options to the newsletter in the coming months. We know we are just at the beginning stages but believe there is great hope to bless the teachers and students of Texas with the resources we have," Moore said.
As noted earlier feedback to the program has been strong and has inspired TF&G to work even harder to get unique content for the students of Texas.
"Roy Neves and Ardia Neves have put their full support behind the project and are making sure all resources are available to aid the students," Moore said.
"Wildlife and creating the next generation of wildlife stewards is important to us and we look forward to working with teachers to help them help their students."
Any educator who covers any subject that deals with wildlife, fisheries and outdoors education can sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.