The NRS HOST (Hands On for School Teachers) Program, a pilot program that ran in the years 2000 and 2001, improved ecological education for hundreds of students from underprivileged high schools by training teachers in the field at NRS reserves.
All students deserve an equal chance to succeed. Yet thousands of K-12 (kindergarten through 12 grade) students in California are not being given the full range of educational opportunities, especially outdoor experiences. Charged with developing a plan to broaden horizons for these K-12 students, the University of California is outreaching to high schools throughout the state that have low performance and limited availability of college preparatory courses.
Through the HOST Program, outstanding teachers determined to improve the range of science instruction for their students received one-on-one training from NRS reserve managers and on-site researchers. Teachers enhanced their abilities to make a difference for their students by:
- deepening understanding of the scientific method, which can be taught in virtually any natural setting,
- acquiring practical skills by conducting hands-on fieldwork,
- creating new teaching materials for use during field trips and in the classroom,
- gaining the confidence and new strategies to excite students about the environment and engage them in exploratory investigation,
- starting a tradition of reserve use and making lasting connections with on-site researchers and members of the NRS family, and
- establishing a network with other teachers through group work and information sharing.
Ultimately, participation in the HOST Program rejuvenated in teachers a lifelong personal interest in environmental science that they will pass along to their students. In a climate where there are many challenges to public education, the NRS and EAOP aimed to provide an environment for enriching the education opportunities for underprivileged schools that would inspire and prepare students to pursue higher education.
Managed by the NRS (University of California Natural Reserve System) in collaboration with EAOP (University of California Early Academic Outreach Program), the HOST Program made a difference for an estimated 800 students per year. It continues to make a difference by providing field-based curricula through this website.