Introduction

This is an exciting new community youth service project for youth groups. It is designed to follow the service learning concepts of preparation, action, reflection, and recognition. It engages youth in identifying, planning, and implementing a project to benefit local trees and forests. Give Forests a Hand was created by the University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

Give Forests a Hand will help kids to:

  • explore their community for environmental issues
  • tap local experts to identify problems and possible projects
  • develop problem-solving skills as they negotiate an action strategy among themselves
  • take action to improve their community.

The program includes an Action Guide for youth and a Leader Guide. The Action Guide encourages youth to explore their environment through a checklist for the school, home, community, or rural forest. The checklists have leading questions that direct youth toward potential problems they can investigate. By using local experts to help answer these questions, youth may be guided to potential environmental service projects. The steps in the Guide are based on a problem-solving framework. Youth collect information, weigh the consequences of their actions, interview local experts, and prioritize their investigations. They explore their own skills and resources to make sure they can complete a project. They seek additional resources in their community from partners, sponsors, landowners, and agencies. Throughout the development of their action plan, they reflect on the way they've made decisions, the information they've learned, and the successes they are having. The leader is encouraged to reflect on the process too, considering if the group needs more information, more outside expertise, more practice in communication skills, etc. The actual service project is begun and managed in Step 7 of the process. The concluding step is a celebration and reflection.

Give Forests a Hand is a direct adaptation of Give Water a Hand, a highly successful program developed by the University of Wisconsin-Extension and a variety of national partners.

The development and evaluation of Give Forests a Hand was funded by:


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