Home Contact Us

The Forest History Society's Educational Outreach Program

Programs in library and archival collecting, publication, and oral history have long been the Forest History Society's (FHS) primary means of educating adults about the history of human interaction with the forested environment. In the 1990s FHS recognized that improved technologies offered an unrealized potential for disseminating information in innovative ways. The initial phase of the new education program involved the development of a middle school environmental education curriculum that is delivered free on the web.

A more recent effort has produced a teachers guide to the U.S. Forest Service centennial history film entitled: The Greatest Good.

As time and funding permit FHS offers teacher institutes around the country to introduce the curriculum and other resources to educators.

FHS plans to pursue additional educational efforts in the future that will provide further insight into the history of relationships between people, forests, and natural resources. Suggestions are welcome. Contact: Cheryl Oakes (coakes@duke.edu)

If Trees Could Talk: A Curriculum in Environmental History

If Trees Could Talk: A Curriculum in Environmental History is an 11-module, middle school curriculum that gives teachers the opportunity to download social studies activities that are based upon archival materials. The centerpiece of each module is a compilation of primary resources--documents, maps, newspaper articles, oral histories or photographs--from which students are asked to gather, examine, and analyze information, and synthesize insights. The curriculum is presently being tested by teachers around the United States and has already generated much popular support.

Green Teacher magazine published an article titled "Environmental History: If Trees Could Talk" that highlights the ways in which If Trees Could Talk: A Curriculum in Environmental History can help students develop a deeper understanding of the history of human-land relationships. Former FHS education consultants Marsha Alibrandi and Lucy Laffitte, together with FHS president Steve Anderson and FHS librarian Cheryl Oakes, authored the piece, which reached an estimated 13,000 classroom teachers in the United States and Canada. The article was included in Teaching Green - The Middle Years: Hands-on Learning in Grades 6-8, an anthology of the best articles to appear in Green Teacher magazine in the last decade. Several workshops conducted in Minnesota, Oregon, North Carolina and Connecticut, have also helped to promote the value of history to environmental education.

The Greatest Good Teachers Guide

The Greatest Good film was produced by the U.S. Forest Service in honor of its Centennial celebration in 2005 and provides an in-depth look at natural resource management during the 20th century. The use of this film in a classroom offers an ideal way for students to study many related issues such as forest conservation, the role of fire in our society, wildlife protection, human impacts on the environment, and environmental decision-making in a democracy. The Greatest Good Teachers Guide suggests a variety of ways to utilize portions of the film in K-12 classrooms.

Updated: July 2, 2012