Teaching Conservation Planning to 3rd Graders

In March 2016, Fitzgerald & Halliday, Inc. (FHI) staff members Dan Hageman, Shawn Callaghan, and Kate Skaff visited Jack Jackter Intermediate School (JJIS) in Colchester, Connecticut, as part of the APA Ambassador program to advance public understanding of planning as a profession, and to inspire children to think about planning in their own communities.

A presentation on Conservation Planning was given to a class of 21 students from Ms. Barrack’s 3rd grade, with a focus on wildlife habitat management. The presentation built upon the student’s work this year, which included choosing an animal found in Connecticut and researching its habitat, food, and shelter needs.

Included in the PowerPoint presentation were question and answer opportunities, animal camouflage identification, and “Turn and Talk” sessions, opportunities for the students to discuss what they were learning with a partner.

The FHI staff members also brought in samples of wood containing microorganisms for the kids to see and touch. This helped reinforce the concept of plant decay and recycling of nutrients. In addition, the Ambassadors conducted a class activity using magnets with various animals and habitats to test the class’s knowledge.

A Google Earth™ demonstration introduced the concept of the size of the Earth in relation to the State of Connecticut, to the Town of Colchester, to the location of JJIS, and eventually to a plot of land not far from their school. Using this plot of land, the kids were given individual maps on which to create a conservation plan with the guidelines to draw a “utopia” for their particular animal of study.

Overall, the 3rd graders were very interested in the presentation. They asked many insightful questions regarding conservation planning and wildlife habitat management. The APA Ambassadors provided the students with wild animal pencils, the magnet activity and white board, and two wildlife/bird bingo games for their future use.

The following week, Ms. Barrack included an awesome compliment in the class newsletter, with “A BIG thank you to Mr. Dan Hageman (and his colleagues Shawn and Kate) who prepared an outstanding presentation on conservation planning for our class.”

We hope our team can visit this awesome group of students again soon!


FHI is a multi-disciplinary planning firm based with offices in Hartford, Connecticut; New York City; and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Dan Hageman is a project manager, and professional soil scientist and NH Certified Wetland Scientist. Shawn Callaghan is a project manager, and Kate Skaff is the office manager.

All photos by FHI.

May 12, 2016

By Shawna Kitzman, AICP