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02/14/2014

Indiana Teacher Wins National Education Award



Scott Cummings
Click to download full size image.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Scott Cummings, from Fort Wayne, Ind., has earned the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) 2013 Conservation Educator of the Year award for using creative and entertaining methods to educate youth about wildlife and conservation.

As a visual arts teacher at Bellmont Middle School in Decatur, Ind., Cummings educates 600 fifth- through eighth-grade students about art, hunting, fishing and outdoor skills. Cummings was chosen from a large group of nominees because he uses hands-on, engaging teaching methods like the NWTF Wild About Turkey Education Box to spur interest in the outdoors.

"It's rewarding to be recognized for doing what I love: sharing God's grand creation with students and teaching them about becoming better stewards of land and wildlife," said Cummings, who has worked as an art teacher since 1989. "The NWTF Wild About Turkey Education Box materials gave me another perfect way to unite art and the outdoors, and my students absolutely love it."

The Wild About Turkey Education Box includes a scaled replica of the wild turkey transport box used by wildlife agencies. It is filled with teaching tools including a complete set of multi-curriculum lesson plans, a full-color bulletin board kit, entertaining videos and multimedia CD/ROM, a poster, reference material and keepsakes for the students.

Among Cummings' many creative teaching methods is sharing with students his self-made videos that document interactions with bear, moose, sharks, pheasant, alligators, sport fish, wild turkeys and white-tailed deer from his trips to several United States ecosystems.

"When my students watch my videos, they become my travel companions for that class period," said Cummings. "A sensory bomb goes off inside them and a few vow, even at this early age, to make similar explorations a reality someday. They dream."

Witnessing hunting and fishing experiences within a family context that narrate an unfolding story, such as in Cummings' videos, can help students address apprehensions and preconceived notions about the outdoors.

"Teachers play an important role in nurturing a conservation ethic in today's young people and helping NWTF accomplish our Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative goals," said Christine Rolka, NWTF education director. "For many students, teachers like Scott may be the only outdoor influence they know. He's making a positive difference in the lives of his students and in the future of our natural resources."

The NWTF's Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to give the NWTF more energy and purpose than ever. Through this national initiative, NWTF has committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million new hunters and open access to 500,000 new acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment. Without hunters, there will be no wildlife or habitat. NWTF is determined to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

To learn more about the NWTF or the Educator of the Year award, contact Melanie Swearingen at mswearingen@nwtf.net or (803) 637-7634.

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