Dimensions September/October 1999
Weaving the "Web of Life" into Science Center Programs
By Judy Braus and Nicole Ardoin
The following is an abstract of an article from the September/October 1999 issue of Dimensions:
Humans are late additions to a complex and interdependent web of life that has been evolving on this planet for at least 3.5 billion years. In the last three decades, as we've learned more about the intricate world of biodiversity, we've also learned that biodiversity is at risk. Habitat loss is proceeding at a record pace and, according to many experts, we are currently losing one plant or animal species every twenty minutes worldwide-a rate that is expected to increase dramatically in the next century. This means that in addition to educating audiences about the incredible diversity of life, educators have a role in helping people understand what biodiversity is all about, why we should care about it, and what we can do to slow the loss.
Judy Braus is Director of Education at World Wildlife Fund. She is also the President of the North American Association for Environmental Education. Nicole Ardoin works in WWF's Education Department and coordinates the Traveling Biodiversity Exhibition Project.
Organizations involved with biodiversity education:
- Biodiversity Education Network, c/o World Wildlife Fund, Education Department, 1250 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. Web site: under development. Phone: 202/778.9549. BEN is a network of biodiversity educators and leaders in the education, science, and museum fields. It works to enhance biodiversity education throughout North America.
- The Biodiversity Project, 214 N. Henry Street, Suite 203, Madison, WI 53703. Web site: www.biodiversityproject.org. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 608/250-9876. The Biodiversity Project has three missions: to assess public opinion on biodiversity; to develop collaborative strategies to increase public awareness and engagement; and to lay the groundwork to implement those strategies. TBP puts out a quarterly newsletter with updates on biodiversity education initiatives across the country. Summaries of their research are available upon request.
- Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024. Web site: www.research.amnh.org/biodiversity. E-mail: email@example.com. Phone: 212/769-5742. Established at the museum in 1993, CBC is dedicated to the study and conservation of biological diversity. The CBC draws on the museum's scientific, education, and exhibition departments to disseminate biodiversity information to the public.
- Chicago Wilderness. Web site: www.chiwild.org. CW is a regional nature reserve, comprising an archipelago of 200,000 acres of protected natural lands in the Chicago metropolitan region. It is also a partnership of 88 public and private organizations that have joined forces to protect, restore, and manage the biodiversity of these natural lands. See "Spotlights," this issue, for more information.
- National Association for Interpretation, P.O. Box 2246, Fort Collins, CO 80522.
Web site: www.interpnet.org.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone:
888/900-8283. NAI is dedicated to the advancement of the profession
of interpretation (on-site informal education programs at parks, zoos,
nature centers, museums, and aquariums). NAI currently serves members
in the United States, Canada, and thirty-one other nations.
- North American Association for Environmental Education, 1825 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20009. Web site: www.naaee.org. Phone: 202/884-8912. NAAEE is a network of professionals and students working in the field of environmental education throughout North America and in over 55 countries around the world.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Education Outreach, National Conservation
Training Center, Route 1, Box 166, Shepherdstown, WV 25443. Web site:
www.nctc.fws.gov. E-mail: email@example.com.
Phone: 304/876-7319. USFWS's Division of Education Outreach provides
training and program support on topics related to ecosystem and natural
resource management. Videos and publications are available on topics
including biodiversity, wetlands ecology, and shorebird studies.
World Wildlife Fund, Education Department, 1250 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. Web site: www.worldwildlife.org. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 202/778-9669.
WWF's mission is to protect biodiversity worldwide, through education and conservation programs. Windows on the Wild is a biodiversity education initiative that educates the public through traveling exhibitions, formal and nonformal educator training workshops, curriculum guides, public speaker events, distance learning programs, and more.