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I’m a science teacher and a conservationist.  One of my passions is to instill a sense of responsibility and relevancy for my students in regards to environmental stewardship.  I want my students to know that they can make a difference and that there are many opportunities to be involved. 

The utilization of natural resources requires making wise decisions about how those resources are used. If they are used too extensively or made useless by pollution, then we not only lose our ability to acquire many of our needs and wants, but we ruin the environment for other species and future generations.   The key is conservation.  However, for conservation to become a priority, its importance must be instilled in the younger generations and future caretakers of the earth – people like my online students.  

Community Based Conservation (CBC) rises from within the community rather than internationally or nationally.  If nothing else, CBC missions can help defend protected areas from ecological hardship.  These projects can be led by a concerned citizen of any age.  I have participated in a variety of CBC projects throughout my life led by several organizations with various goals.  One thing that they had in common: each changed my life and morphed me into the person I am today. 

In a traditional brick-and-mortar setting, I have led a Green Team in cleaning up litter, water testing, and even planting a flower garden in front of our school.  It is a little more difficult to lead my virtual students in one of these projects.  This is why I encourage learning coaches to help students get involved in CBC. 

I sponsor and lead our Green Team, ISKS Middle School Outdoor Club, and the K12 National Hobby Farming Club.  I can tell you the students involved in these groups do care about the environment.  Many are involved in conservation projects, and many others want to be but aren’t sure where to start!   

There are many pros of community based conservation efforts, like increased knowledge of the topic, sense of purpose, accountability, and teamwork.  All aspects of local biodiversity conservation are enhanced when the community embraces and has some ownership in the process. If people have time and money invested in the mission themselves, they are more likely to make changes.  Participating in even a small CBC project can promote common knowledge, increase community awareness, and lead to positive changes.  Appreciating nature strengthens our admiration toward the environment. Therefore, the most important agenda on any given CBC mission might be to make the environment more meaningful to the target community.   

As an educator, I hope that I am a positive influence on my students in many aspects, but especially where the environment is concerned.  I also hope that they have encouragement and examples from their parents or guardians when at home.  I encourage and support any CBC organizations and applaud their efforts and projects.  I fully believe that having citizens participate in any conservation activity is effective.  Awareness of both conservation issues and how daily habits affect the environment are key to effective conservation.  Most young people do not believe that they can make a difference, but participating in a CBC project will show them they can.   

About The Author

Ashley Fryer

Ashley Fryer teaches both science and health to grades 9-12 at Insight School of Kansas (ISKS) and Kansas Virtual Academy (KSVA). Ashley joined ISKS eight years ago.  Before that, she taught biology in a traditional classroom setting for four years. Ashley graduated from Pittsburg State University in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in education. In 2013, she received a master’s of science in teaching with a focus in environmental education from Miami University. Ashley is a K12 Teacher Ambassador and on the Teacher Advisory Committee.  She also hosts the K12 National Hobby Farming Club and ISKS/KSVA Outdoor Club and leads the schools' Green Team.  Ashley lives on a hobby/funny farm in Kansas with her husband, daughter, and a bunch of crazy animals!   

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