What is WILD?

firefly in a jarWILD is an interdisciplinary and supplementary suite of guides-delivered in a professional development workshop, often for SCECH, that can be used to teach basic skills in science, social studies, language arts, math, art, music and physical education.

Before any activity is ever printed in a guide it has been fact checked by biologists and field tested by more than one teacher with students.

The Goal of Project WILD is to assist students of any age in developing awareness, knowledge, skills, and commitment to result in informed decisions, responsible behavior, and constructive action concerning wildlife and the environment. WILD is sponsored in Michigan by both the DNR and the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE).


WILD encourages educators to get children outside, producing benefits such as:


  • Children who play outside in natural settings are less likely to suffer obesity and less likely to contract diabetes. Press release from the CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
  • Studies have shown that stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces. Even a view of nature helps reduce stress in highly stressed children. Children with these views also demonstrate increased attentional capacity. Well, N. M. and Evens, G.W. 2003 Nearby nature: A buffer of life stress among rural children. Environment and Behavior (32) 6, pp775-795.
  • Children who have regular opportunities for free/unstructured play in the out-of-doors demonstrate greater levels of creativity, cooperation, conflict resolution and leadership. American Institutes for Research, 2005. Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California.
  • Ninety percent of active adult outdoor particapnts were introduced to outdoor activities between ages of 5-18.Outdoor Industry Foundation 2004, Exploring the Active Lifestyle report.
  • People who are active in outdoor recreation tend to be happier than those who are not.USDHHS 2002, Physical Activity and Fitness: Improving Health, Fitness, and Quality of Life through daily physical activity. Prevention Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 16(4)

    In short, numerous studies have shown that when students are provided with hands-on, inquiry-based, cooperative learning strategies their retention of information is longer, they are better able to make connections between different sets of knowledge and consistently score higher on standardized tests.

    Project WILD uses a variety of tested and accepted teaching techniques to provide basic information. Games, observations, discussion, graphing and art are some of the techniques used to allow students of differing interests and knowledge to learn about wildlife their environment.

    Finally, kids just love wildlife. What better way to get kids excited about learning then by introducing them to the natural world. Using the outdoors as a living laboratory provides both physical and mental benefits to kids. Project WILD is an excellent avenue to reconnect kids with the living world around them, while building a sense of place within their local community.

    Going WILD


    There are 3 levels of involvement in Project WILD: Facilitators (who are trained by the state coordinator to spread their knowledge to Educators), Educators (who attend a workshop where they receive their selected activity guides, and are trained in how to use them with their students), and Students (who receive training from Educators and participate in WILD activities in their classrooms or outdoors).

    Educators interested in obtaining Project WILD materials must attend a quality, professinal workshop. Workshops usually 4-8 hours and are held throughout the state at various times and places. Check the Workshops link to the left to see if a workshop has been planned near you.

    Natalie Elkins
    Project WILD Coordinator
    Marketing and Outreach
    Michigan Department of Natural Resources
    525 W. Allegan, 5th Constitution Hall
    Lansing, MI 48933
    Tel: 517-284-6041
    Fax: 517-373-1547
    E-mail: DNR-ProjectWILD@michigan.gov

    Project WILD Workshop Schedule