An Environmental Education/Interpretation Master Plan for Sites with Oak Savanna
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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The Oak Savanna Research and Restoration Project began in 19~3 with the goal of demonstrating how adaptive management can be used with an effective monitoring system and appropriate technology to guide landscape scale restoration and m~nagement of the oak savanna. Environmental education/interpretation was one component of the project. The purpose of this study was to conduct market and site analyses of six restoration sites in Wisconsin and based upon this assessment, develop an environmental education/interpretation master plan for sites with oak savanna. Focus groups and recreation surveys were used in market analysis. Between March and August 1995, focus groups were held with agency staff to determine the audience, messages, and media for each site. Although the sites had different audiences, participants from all of the focus groups identified several similar messages. Target audiences had a strong influence on the type of media chosen. Results of the recreation surveys, "1990 Wisconsin Outdoor Recreation Survey," "Wisconsin Department o fNatural Resources 1985-1986 Use Survey of State Natural Areas," and "Wisconsin's Wildlife Constituency Study," demonstrated that in general, Wisconsinites enjoy nature observation above other forms of recreation and would like to see limited development on public land. Site analysis forms, historical documents, and oral history interviews were used in site analysis. Oral history interviews and a review of historical documents brought forth several sources from which to draw quotes and other information for education and interpretation. Site analysis forms revealed significant interpretive features, themes, and potential media. Results of market and site analyses were used to develop an environmental education/interpretation master plan for sites with oak savanna. The plan includes both general and site specific recommendations. One component of the plan is the curriculum, "Unveiling the Secrets of the Savanna," developed for classroom teachers and resource managers of sites with oak savanna. Model media outline plans for interpretive media at the restoration sites. The plans and recommendations outlined in this document should be integrated into larger education and management plans for each restoration site. Future efforts in developing environmental education and interpretation for oak savannas should focus on publishing feature articles and producing a video for statewide viewing.