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Idaho BLM showcases their FireWorks! educational curriculum at the 16th Annual Idaho Environmental Education Conference
BLM FireWorks! booth
What smells like sage brush, lives in a trunk, and helps
kids understand the 7 million acres of
southern Idaho BLM landscapes? The
answer to this question was unveiled by a group of Idaho BLM Fire Mitigation/ Education
specialists at the 16th annual Idaho Environmental Education
Conference (IdEEA). It’s called FireWorks! and it is a portable,
hands-on resource teachers use to teach the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.
IdEEA was held at Sage International School in Boise, Idaho,
during the first weekend of March. This
conference brought formal educators and non-profit organizations from across
Idaho together to collaborate on the theme: Connecting Communities to
Classrooms! BLM employees
staffed a booth throughout the conference where attendees could learn more
about BLM and both educational curriculum's.
Carrie Bilbao, Boise District
& Kari Boyd-Peak, NIFC
In addition to some popular classroom activities, the BLM presentation
introduced the FireWorks!
Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia lists more than 40 species found
in the sage-steppe ecosystem including sage grouse, arrowleaf balsam root,
golden eagle, biotic crust, juniper, sagebrush, harvester ants, and blue bunch
wheatgrass. The encyclopedia is the
foundation of the curriculum and is vital to the students’ understanding of the
The BLM’s FireWorks!
educational curriculum is an adaptation of a widely-used educational tool first
created at the Rocky Mountain Research Center (Missoula, MT) in 2000 by Jane
Kapler-Smith and Nancy E. McMurray. The
original curriculum featured forest ecosystems and has been utilized across the
United States by both educators and local and federal agencies. The sagebrush steppe curriculum is just one of
a several adaptations of the original concept that makes science and specific
disciplines personal to the region students live in.
Jesse Bender, Idaho Falls District
This curriculum can be used for elementary, middle school
and high school levels. Its objectives include
increasing student understanding of natural resource sciences, enhancing scientific
literacy, and developing critical thinking skills about science-related social
In addition to FireWorks!,
the team highlighted the 4th grade
wildland fire curriculum currently being integrated into the Boise School
District. This program uses many of the same activities from FireWorks!