The Go! Wild In Nature (WIN) Project provides underrepresented (female, African- American, and Hispanic) students and their caregivers the opportunity to gain knowledge of Mississippi’s environmental ecosystem through hands-on experience with Mississippi wildlife and nature. Participants learn preservation of natural biology, obtain safety skills, and broaden their education through a number of endeavors. Students participate in watershed literacy, plant and wildlife ecosystem explorations, and archery through the following programs: Watershed Education at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, activities at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, and activities at the USM Marine Education Center.
WATERSHED EDUCATION AT USM GULF COAST RESEARCH LABORATORY
The Watershed Education program at the USM Gulf Coast Research Laboratory teaches students and staff evidence-based methods to maximize the probability of watershed literacy and long-term environmental stewardship. Students participate in two separate hands on pre-cruise, cruise, and post-cruise semester activities. Activities include: students learning watershed literacy content, human and natural causes of change in watersheds, map orientation, data collection (GPS location, temperature, clarity, dissolved oxygen, salinity) and data entry skills; students researching local watersheds to learn about cleanups; students monitoring activities and restoration projects; and students visiting Pascagoula watershed to research natural changes (avulsion and channel switching) and compare Pascagoula and home watersheds.
MISSISSIPPI MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE
At the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, the museum staff provide students the opportunity to take part in the “behind-the-scenes” museum activities, gain knowledge about ongoing conservation research, view museum exhibits, and participate in Museum curriculum learning activities associated with conservation.
USM MARINE EDUCATION CENTER
The USM Marine Education Center in Ocean Springs provides classroom and hands-on activities in the areas of conservation biology, habitat conversation, and wildlife conservation. Students participate in the protection of marine animals’ natural habitats in Mississippi waterways through USM’s Mississippi Marine Debris Removal program. USM also host a two-day on-site Coastal Science Camp where students will serve as conservationists. Activities include an introduction to shark biology; data sheet interpretation; how to hold, tag and measure a shark; shark ecological importance and shark species; measurement of water quality parameters; sieve net sampling nekton; dip net sampling of fringe marsh species; and geographic orientation via Google Earth.
Students are trained on the benefits of archery, the 11 safety steps of archery, and the identification of the parts of the bow and arrow utilizing the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) curriculum. Upon successful completion of the NASP curriculum and accurate demonstration of the 11 safety steps, students practice their archery skills for at least eight hours a month. Additionally, through archery, students gain knowledge on bow-hunting requirements, restrictions, safety methods, and techniques necessary for bow hunting in Mississippi.