Conservation resource issues typically are very complex and can require the use of a variety of problems-solving skills to resolve. College students entering my Introduction to Outdoor Recreation course at Central Michigan University frequently express feelings of being overwhelmed by the global conservation and environmental issues that we individually and as a nation face. The Action Team Project was developed as way for students to gain the skills they need to become active, environmentally responsible citizens. Students identify an environmental/conservation issue; form teams to research and take action on the issue; and form partnerships with local or state community groups or agencies to assist in the issue. The timeframe for the project is three months (one semester), the framework of a college class limits the time students can be involved, although many students continue their involvement after the class ends.
As part of this project, students have been taking part in a research project to measure gains in perceptions of empowerment; problem-solving skills; and environmental awareness. Students take a pre-/ post-test and submit final reflection papers that are guided by a series of questions related to the research topic.
Past projects include: Support of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the sale of public lands; partnership with the city Materials Recycling Facility to increase education/awareness of recycling; partnership with local schools to bring environmental education classes to elementary students; partnerships with local conservation groups to clean-up rivers, purchase land for preservation, prevent groundwater withdrawals that threaten the Great Lakes, educate the public about invasive species, and conserve nesting habitat for waterfowl.