Scout Skills: Wildlife

What do you teach?

The Wildlife instructor teaches the following skills:

Identification of local poisonous plants (TF 11)
  • Poison Ivy
  • Poison Oak
  • Poison Sumac
Treatment for Poison ivy exposure(TF 11)
Identify and show evidence of specific local wildlife (SC 6)
Identify native plants (FC 6)

How do you teach Wildlife Identification?

  • Plants: Plants are identified by their leaves, by the shape of the plant (tree, shrub, grass vine, etc), and by their fruit, if present. Leaves can be pressed, or presented in photographs. Fruits can be collected if in season- this gives a good "hands-on" visual. Plant shapes can be shown in pictures, but it's better to go outside and look at actual examples!
  • Animals: Animals are identified by:
    1. Sightings: Tell your students where to look (water sources, food sources, trails) for the best chance of success.
    2. Prints: Again, make sure they know where to look- muddy stream banks are good. Include in this category other signs like clumps of fur or feathers that can be associated with a specific animal. A card with pictures of common tracks will allow them to identify the source. Point out the individual characteristics of each kind of track (ie cat tracks do not show claws, a running rabbit puts its back feet down in front of its fore paws, etc).
    3. Scat: Animal droppings- many have distinctive appearances. Photographs are best to capture the details.
Visual aids for this Skill set can often be worked into games (think wildlife bingo), that will facilitate learning.

Remember- you are teaching the Scout to identify these things for themselves, not just have you point out examples. Give them a presentation of what to look for, then take them outside, give them hints about what to look for where, and let them go at it!