Teachers Across California Gain Valuable Forest Science Knowledge

Forestry Institute for Teachers
Why this project matters
Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT) is an intensive six-day field workshop for K-12 grade teachers. The project will connect teachers with resource professionals who have a deep understanding of the importance of forestry on environmental, social and economic scales. The program is offered at four locations throughout California and includes hands-on fieldtrips for teachers to learn about forest science, management, and conservation from federal, state, environmental, forestry and advocacy professionals.
The FIT Program is underwritten by a consortium of public and private sources. Since 1993, over 2,100 teachers have graduated from the program. FIT engages teachers by focusing on natural resource education strategies through partners like Project Learning Tree (PLT), which is an SFI program. PLT uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. Partners will work with Northern California Society of American Foresters to identify and coordinate local forest products industry participation in the program, including field and mill site tours.
Why is SFI involved?
SFI values this project because it provides teachers with firsthand experience that exposes them to real‑life experiences in responsible forestry. FIT leverages resource specialists from conservation groups, state agencies, private industry and the California SFI Implementation Committee to inform teachers about the environmental values associated with well‑managed forests. FIT also provides a comprehensive understanding of the forest products process. In addition to the complex regulatory requirements of California forest practice rules and SFI certification programs, FIT instructs participants on how wildfire, erosion, fisheries, and invasive species issues are mitigated in well-managed forests.
Certification of completion for FIT is contingent on participants developing a course curriculum project. The program requires that participants incorporate their subject material with PLT activities into a multi‑week teaching plan. FIT will promote the application of natural resource knowledge through implementation of the curriculum project. Participants are encouraged to implement the curriculum project in their classroom and provide documentation to FIT. Successful curriculum projects will be adopted as case studies for future FIT sessions to support teachers in developing robust activities.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
By focusing on educators from urban environments who have limited opportunities to interact with forest ecosystems, FIT strengthens ties between teachers and well‑managed forests. FIT leverages experts from the research and management arm of the University of California and the USDA Forest Service to provide the most current and tested knowledge regarding proper forest management. In addition, FIT partners with the SFI community through Sierra Pacific Industries, a long time SFI Program Participant, the California SFI Implementation Committee and California Project Learning Tree.
This partnership includes educators, conservationists, researchers, SFI Program Participants and Forestry and natural resource professionals.
  • Project lead: Northern California Society of American Foresters
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • California Project Learning Tree
  • University of California Cooperative Extension
  • Sierra Pacific Industries (SFI Program Participant)
  • California SFI Implementation Committee
Related information
  • SFI helps students and teachers get firsthand experience in the boreal forest through the Forestry Connects Program.
  • Project Learning Tree, an SFI program, is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.
  • SFI connects youth to forests through education (project highlights).
About the Northern California Society for American Foresters
The Northern California Society of American Foresters, with about 900 members, is a unit of the Society of American Foresters. Established in 1900, SAF has about 18,000 members. SAF is a national organization representing all segments of the forestry profession in the United States. It includes public and private practitioners, researchers, administrators, educators, and forestry students. The mission of SAF is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry and to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems, and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.