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Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Inspirations from the Forest

Conservation

The artists, writers, and musicians who draw inspiration from the natural world may not always call themselves conservationists or environmentalists, but they all share the same fundamental principles—appreciating our natural resources and seeking to conserve them for future generations.

As our population grows, and with it the demand for natural resources, it is our responsibility to understand and appreciate how ecological systems work, and to make intelligent, informed decisions on how resources can be used most wisely.

The USDA Forest Service's Conservation Education program is designed with these goals in mind. "We need to make the environment come alive for students," explains Karen Malis-Clark, an environmental educator in Arizona. The first step is "to build an appreciation and understanding of the environment by going out and experiencing it." Next is to learn more about environmental systems and interrelationships—by studying plants, wildlife, water, geology, history, and outdoor skills.

If conservation education succeeds, it may help ensure that the next generation of artists, writers, and musicians will continue to draw inspiration from our nation's natural resources.

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Photo courtesy USDA Forest Service.

Residents of downtown New Haven, Connecticut, plant trees to revitalize their neighborhood as part of the Urban Resources Initiative, a non-profit organization at Yale University that promotes environmental education and the practice of urban forestry. Photo by Joshua Schachter, courtesy New Haven URI.