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Lauren Hawkins

TEDCRED 50+

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From ivory tower to prison cell: How can we bring conservation efforts to the public?

Conservation and other environmental movements have long been viewed as the initiatives of a select group of people. Rare, an international conservation group, seeks to change conservation policy by turning it into a movement that derives support from the public. As there website states, “conservationists must become as skilled in social change as in science; as committed to community-based solutions as national and international policy making.”

How can this be accomplished? The Sustainable Prisons Project in Washington State offers a novel approach to Rare’s mission. This project, a partnership between The Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections, allows inmates across Washington to participate in environmental education, sustainable practices, and science research projects. Learn more about this program at http://blogs.evergreen.edu/sustainableprisons/stories/prisons-with-nature/.

Creative conservation initiatives like the Sustainable Prisons Project help both the conservation movement and the participants of the program. How can we expand this project to other parts of the global community in order to fully bring conservation to the forefront of political and social discussions?

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    Jun 7 2012: I'm a big believer in the ideal that knowledge is power. That being said, I think bringing conservation efforts to the public needs to start at a young age, perhaps elementary school. Because the way humans are changing the environment is an issue that does and will affect each and every one of us, educating children about the importance of the environment and what they can do to help will certainly make sure everyone is informed. Thus, the more people that are informed, the more people that will go on to take action.
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      Jun 7 2012: I completely agree with you. The best way to inspire someone to act throughout their life time is to educate them at an early age in ways that are both fun and informative. It is important that the subject be continued until the end of high school in order to reinforce its significance and the need for change in human action.
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        Jun 7 2012: Yeah, that's a good idea also. Not to mention the fact that by the time I have kids in high school, the issues won't be quite the same as they are now. Things are almost certainly going to be just a little to a lot worse, and thus we need all the informed, concerned, and motivated young people we can get to help the generation after them.
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        Jun 8 2012: This is a good idea. I also think that we need to focus more on educating people on conservation problems but that it is also possible to fix. I think that as of today people tend to hear all of this bad stuff that's going on and their initial thought is that there is nothing that can be done to make it better. This is a big obstacle that needs to be overcome.
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        Jun 8 2012: I think it's more important to try to change the way children think of society. If they have a more sustainable lifestyle it will be much easier to teach them in highschool about how to save the environment. People can learn about environmental conservation all they want, but if they do not live the changes they learn all hope is lost.
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      Jun 8 2012: Your idea is great and has already been incorporated into elementary curriculum. My internship this term consisted of going to elementary schools in Lane county and teaching classes about how to be more sustainable in terms of energy use and how each energy worked. The kids were all very informed on the issues and eager to learn more about them. Not to mention that the schools themselves have made a huge push towards being more sustainable in any way they can.

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