The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has created “resource trunks” for Maryland educators to use to teach about the white-tailed deer, one of the most recognizable wild animals in the state.
The trunks, which can be signed out by teachers for free for one or two weeks, contain a teacher’s curriculum guide, two illustrated books, a CD of deer sounds, a deer hide, an antler, and a replica of a deer skull.
Karina E. Blizzard, the associate director for the wildlife and heritage service for the department, said she got the idea of creating animal trunks for teachers from other states.
“We have a desire to meet the needs of our educators, but we don’t have the staff to be in the schools like we used to be,” she said, noting that the department has trimmed education programs because of budget cuts.
Ms. Blizzard named a handful of states whose departments of natural resources have developed such trunks. Arizona has bat trunks, Indiana created North American river otter trunks, Montana has trunks on the fur trade, Washington provides wild-salmon trunks, and Wisconsin makes available wolf trunks.
For about two years now, the Maryland department has provided a black-bear trunk for teachers. More than 50 teachers signed it out. And the department is developing a fur-bearer trunk, which will feature foxes, raccoons, and possums, among other mammals that have fur.
The trunks about white-tailed deer are intended to help educators teach about the basic biology of the deer and how the state manages them.
“There’s no real hidden agenda with this—it’s just educating people about white-tailed deer and the importance they play in our environment,” Ms. Blizzard said, adding that teachers don’t have to know anything about white-tailed deer to use the resource.
One of the first people to sign out the white-tailed deer trunk was Joanne Reed, the wildlife manager and educator for the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, Md. She used the trunk last month for programs provided to about 30 preschoolers.
“It went really well—their being able to touch the fur,” Ms. Reed said. “They really enjoyed the hands-on.”
Teachers can pick up the trunks at any of four regional offices of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
A version of this article appeared in the January 05, 2005 edition of Education Week