In response to an increased importance being placed upon STEM and the growing effort to provide outdoor educational opportunities to many youth are lacking, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension created Range Rocks!, an integrated extension education program that provides technical and field experience for high school students attracted to rangeland ecology and management. Range Rocks! allows students to create an increased knowledge and awareness of these important places and functions.
In this outdoor experiential learning program, students and teachers alike directly benefit from hands-on experience in rangeland ecology and management on working landscapes such as the University of Arizona’s V Bar V Ranch. Technology-savvy students are able to make an immediate connection between field measurements collected with cutting edge scientific instruments and ecological or management observations. Understanding the biological intricacies of working landscapes is obviously important for young people who wish to be involved in agriculture or natural resource careers. It is equally important, however, for non-ag oriented students to acquire a basic understanding of these principles and how they affect the sustainable production of ecosystem goods and services. They need to know the science, not just know about it. To do this, students must experience it, even if only vicariously.
Range Rocks! also provides a vehicle to document and disseminate these outdoor education experiences in a variety of e-learning packages and thus make them available to those who do not have the good fortune to live in central Arizona. Picture an eighth grade class in the Bronx, watching a video about carbon sequestration by Sideoats Grama with the red rocks of Sedona as backdrop, or a high school senior viewing an interactive podcast on grazing animal nutrition while riding the bus to her volleyball game. In summary, due to the existence of the V Bar V Ranch and the surrounding landscape, combined with the intelligent application of technology, we have before us a unique opportunity. Range Rocks! is an opportunity to discover, to inform, and to share the experience and profession of rangeland ecology and management with not only local Arizona students, but with any student on the internet.
Range Rocks! was selected for funding under the Arizona Cooperative Extension Signature Program Initiative grant program in 2012. As a result, Range Rocks! has recently debuted the first installment of distance learning resources available to help students across the country learn more about range science. These Prezi’s, produced by the University of Arizona, introduce students to the science behind Near Infra-Red Light and go on to explain how this technology is used in range science and the various applications in which it can be used. The Range Rocks! program plans on producing several more educational resources such as these in order to share the importance of range studies, even to those not living in an area where rangelands are prevalent.
For more information, please contact our Range Rocks! Program Coordinator, Lisa Page, at: 928-554-8995 and firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to working with you!
Some of the activities Range Rocks! has been involved in recently......