Creative educator wins NWTF's 'Conservation Educator of the Year'

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — By using entertaining and creative methods to educate people about wildlife and conservation, Laurie Root, from Rapid City, S.D., has earned the National Wild Turkey Federation’s 2010 Conservation Educator of the Year award.

As a Naturalist for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, Root educates people of all ages about the environment, hunting, fishing and skills necessary in the outdoors.

“It’s rewarding to help people become better stewards of land and wildlife, which makes them more responsible citizens,” said Root, who has worked as a wildlife educator since 1989. “My job also allows me to take part in many special moments in peoples’ lives, like when they catch their first fish. To win an award for doing what I love is thrilling.”

Root was chosen from a group of nominees from all over North America because she uses hands-on, engaging teaching methods and the NWTF’s Wild About Turkey Education Box to stress the importance of conservation and wildlife management.

The education box is 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, an entertaining video and multimedia CD/ROM, a poster, reference material and keepsakes for the students.

For students, Root’s creative teaching methods include using real gizzards to teach about bird biology, songs and rhymes to learn about wild turkeys and leading service learning projects through which older students teach younger students about conservation.

For other educators, Root conducts wildlife training workshops that show participants creative ways to incorporate conservation education into classrooms and education programs.

Laurie Root in classroom. Submitted photo, courtesy of NWTF.

She also teaches women turkey hunting and calling skills and how to make wild turkey wing bone calls. Over the past eight years, Root has made more than 100 wild-turkey-themed presentations to K through 12th grade and college classes, at hunter education courses and at Outdoor Women of South Dakota events.

As the winner, Root will receive a $1,000 grant to fund a conservation education project and will be recognized at the NWTF’s 35th annual National Convention and Sport Show next February, in Nashville, Tenn.

Founded in 1973, the NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.

Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, spending more than $331 million to conserve 15.9 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.

The NWTF works to increase interest in the outdoors by bringing new hunters and conservationists into the fold through outdoor education events and its outreach programs – Women in the Outdoors, Wheelin’ Sportsmen, JAKES and Xtreme JAKES.

To learn more, visit or call (800) THE-NWTF.

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