Educating children on the benefits of wood products and the industry, must be a priority if future consumers and voters are going to view wood as the environmentally responsible choice that it is. One traveling exhibit is trying to do just that as it moves across the country. It has the potential to be seen by over five million children over the next decade.
Last year the Omaha Children’s Museum developed an exhibit called Forever Forest that seeks to educate children about trees and wood products. Using various play spaces and interactive exhibits, children can learn where wood comes from, how it is processed and transported, and all the ways it can be used to improve our lives.
The exhibit is sponsored by Union Pacific and the North American Wholesale Lumber Association (NAWLA) as well as a number of other companies and associations. The initial stops for this children’s exhibit include: Omaha, St. Louis, Spokane, Bentonville, St. Paul, Indianapolis, Chattanooga, and Jersey City. More cities are expected to come on line, and the first three years of the exhibit are already booked.
Forever Forest is intended to help families learn about the forest products lifecycle in a fun and interactive manner. Exploring the realities of forests through play, families learn about sustainability, selective harvesting, transportation needs, and the everyday products that come from forest product resources.
The exhibit includes signs explaining careers in forestry, the importance of forest management and reasons behind selective harvesting. See sidebar for details.
According to NAWLA, the content of this exhibit was inspired by an educational outreach program developed by the Hardwood Forest Foundation (HFF) called Truth About Trees. Truth About Trees teaches children all about sustainable forestry and the everyday products that come from trees. It provides elementary school teachers with tiered lesson plans, a story book, a DVD, a wood product school supply scavenger hunt, wooden pencils, stickers, and flashcards featuring several everyday items made from trees. Teachers will have the option to replenish their kit year after year via hardwoodforest.org.
Industry advocates can also sponsor teachers on the wish list via the HFF website. Mary Gronewold, a teacher who represents Truth About Trees said, “This program is unique. Up until now, elementary school teachers have not had access to interactive curriculum that teaches not only what sustainable forestry is but also how it benefits our everyday lives.”
As the exhibit moves from city to city, each museum will put its local spin on the display. Members of the forest products sector can help publicize the exhibit and add local content.
For more information on how you can participate, visit http://www.nawla.org/ or contact NAWLA at 312-321-5133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.