About AE   About NHM   Contact Us   Terms of Use   Copyright Info   Privacy Policy   Advertising Policies   Site Map
Custom Search of AE Site
spacer spacer

Natural Resource Management Course Outline

James Reichle


  • "Tech Prep" biology with a career pathway in resource management/land management.
  • Hands on learning with professional equipment, tools and techniques.


Students seeking work experience in ecosystem evaluation and management. Skills and knowledge may be used as experience for direct employment at the entry level in resource agencies or as an entry course into a one or two year college technology program in resource management.


Notes for teacher:

This course was originally billed as a "non college-prep" course. The intent was to offer a course to those students who were not pursuing a 4 year college education, yet deserved a quality science offering with employment opportunities. The philosophy of "tech prep" fits very nicely with this early idea.

Required of students:

A willingness to learn through outdoor activities. Getting dirty is part of the curriculum.

Preperation Time Needed:

This curriculum requires no more than any other activity-based science curriculum. Outdoor supervision requires strategy and cooperation from the administration.

Class Time Needed:

A typical week would include the following:

  • Monday: Introduce ecosystem monitoring skill.
  • Tuesday: Students watch skill performed in the field and practice taking quality data.
  • Wednesday: Students' data quality verified and data is analyzed.
  • Thursday and Friday: Students practice skill and recording data.


SUMMARY/ABSTRACT: The year plan for this curriculum is as follows:

1st semester -

  • Skills in ecosystem evaluation including chemical, biological, and physical qualities.
  • A report of a local ecosystem.

3rd Quarter -

  • Opportunity to learn qualities of ecosystems that are not immediately accessible in local area or can best be learned in the classroom, such as map reading, geologic principals, organism tissues, etc.
  • Develop a resource plan for a project to be performed at a local natural area. Plan should include goals and objectives, as well as a timeline for work to be performed.
4th Quarter -
  • Perform project as planned 3rd quarter.
  • Present weekly updates on project status and impact to the ecosystem.
  • Write final report on project that includes evaluation of work progress an impact to ecosystem. The final report also requires suggestions to continue work the following school term.


This course does require an unusual outlay of tools and materials, not normally found in a science stock room, to conduct field studies of ecosystems. To evaluate the chemical characteristics of soil., water or air, analysis kits by companies such as La Motte or Hach are available. Sometimes chemistry labs at schools are equipped with these tools. Macrobiological characteristics such as plants, birds, mammals, or insects can be measured using dichotomous keys, nets for insects, and consistent sampling methods. Physical characteristics such as slope of the land or stream, mapping, and soil typing can be performed with equipment retired from engineering firms, departments of transportation or agricultural agencies. A list of materials our program has gathered for analysis include the following:

  • Local bird, plant,
    mammal, insect
    dichotomous keys.
  • Binoculars
  • Surber stream nets
  • Microscopes
  • Dissecting scopes
  • Plankton net
  • Hach Colorimeter
  • La Motte pH kits
  • Soil Analysis kits
  • pH meters
  • Transit, tripod, rod
  • Inclinometers
  • Compass/Maps
  • Turbidity meter
  • Stream flometer
  • 50 meter tapes


The difficulty of the class so far is evaluating individual progress in each of the skills taught. The methods used so far are the following:
  • Observation and questioning of procedures in the field.
  • Evaluation of written data material from the field.
  • Written reports - ecosystem evaluation, ecosystem improvement project, and project analysis.
  • Written reports.


A Community Experience element is included in the students' grade (10%) to encourage outreach into the local community. Students test ecosystems near their homes, attend meetings involving resource management in the community, teach elementary students and perform projects. In addition, professional resource managers, technicians and scientists give presentations in the classroom.

Fellows Collection Index

Activities Exchange Index

Custom Search on the AE Site