In 2013, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance launched a pilot Wilderness Education project to test a model of environmental education. We tested a three-tiered approach for environmental education that begins in the classroom with Wilderness Education, expanding to the field trips and Exposure to Wild Nature and following up with Community Connection. This brought wilderness education directly into schools, teaching children about nature while giving them the tools to continue expanding their connection with the outdoors after our field trips were over. Because New Mexico consistently rates low in education and high in poverty, we worked directly with students in both rural and urban settings.

The pilot project reached 140 students across the state in Taos, Albuquerque and Loving. Students from elementary, middle and high school levels participated. The teachers who worked with us were very enthusiastic to participate, get their students outside, and be creative in following up with the community connection. The students enjoyed learning about wilderness, joining the outdoor field trips and sharing their experiences with their school and families. Students wrote letters, created art or developed nature journals as part of the follow up activity.