MFC Program Introduction

Our partner educators are the backbone of program delivery, supported by the Rural Aspiration Project’s educational team, along with a diverse group of industry professionals, organizations, governmental agencies, and educational institutions. 

 

The implementation looks a bit different from school to school. Throughout the program, we've partnered with teachers in science, English and health and wellness classes representing rural communities from Bethel to Guilford.   

 

Rural Aspirations works with each partner school to define a program structure aligned with the district’s educational vision and strategic plans.

 

Industry leaders, entrepreneurs, civic and business leaders, and forestry professionals provide a platform of expertise, offering technical support, access to research and development affecting Maine’s forests, and opportunities for students to have hands-on experiences that match their aspirations and interests.  

 

Private and nonprofit organizations/foundations support the development of this program by offering expertise on topics ranging from education and conservation to recreation and community development.

 

Post-secondary institutions offer diverse opportunities for students as they refine aspirations and seek higher levels of learning. These institutions will train our future forest professionals, whether they focus on developing sustainable industry models, creating a small business that utilizes high-quality lumber, or leading conservation efforts as communities develop strategic plans for future economic viability.  

   

Curriculum Overview

Unit 1

Understanding Our Local Communities

Building context to understand the connections between ourselves, natural resources, and our local community. 

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Unit 2

Rapid Prototyping Solutions

Using design thinking and the rapid prototype process to develop solutions to challenges in natural resource based communities.

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Unit 3

Analyzing and Communication Solutions

Investigating the impact and sustainability of solutions and reporting on findings.

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Unit 1 Narrative

Students will explore the concept of identity in order to define their own as an individual, as well as a collective identity of their community. They will investigate how experiences and our environment, specifically our forests, contribute to the shaping of our identities. Students will develop a picture of these identities by thinking about community through their own personal lens and by digging deeper into family and community connections. Through these lenses, students will explore the cultural dimension of what it means to be from a particular region, what challenges their communities face, and begin to explore potential resources that can help students on their journey toward understanding local forest use and its impacts on community.  They will then gain a firm understanding of impact from the context of economic, social, and environmental use.  This will be referenced throughout the entire project. Students will learn how to collect qualitative and quantitative data and create a strategy for doing so in their community.  From the qualitative and quantitative data, students will eventually create an ArcGIS map of local resources to help reflect on their own community, and the challenges that the community faces.  The end product of this unit will be a poster titled “What’s the Story of Our Community?” which will be presented at the first MFC Student Cohort Day.

Student Outcomes

Project outcomes

  1. Articulate a personal connection to the local natural resource economy, markets, and ecosystems.

  2. Investigate complex issues facing forests, drawing upon a wide range of community resources both in and out of school.

  3. Investigate emerging industries, technologies, and innovation.

  4. Collaborate with other students, natural resource practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and other community resources to apply available information to their understanding of natural resource management.

Process outcomes

  1. Using real world data to back up claims and counterclaims.

  2. Recognizing and making connections across multiple disciplines and learned information.

  3. Communicate findings with well developed claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases. (CCSS.ELA - Literacy.W.11 - 12.1.b).

Guiding Principles

  1. Become a self-directed and lifelong learner who recognizes the need for quality natural resource information and knowledge from many different sources.

  2. Become a clear and effective communicator who applies advocacy skills, including research, argumentation, and presentation skills.

  3. Become a creative and practical problem solver who applies goal setting and problem-solving skills in novel situations in collaboration with other students, natural resource practitioners, research, policymakers, and other community resources.

  4. Become an integrative and informed thinking who gains and applies knowledge across natural resource disciplines and sources with and without technology.

Unit 2 Narrative

Students will learn about design thinking and rapid prototyping as a method to solve challenges.  Design thinking is a method for solving problems by first developing empathy for the individuals affected by the challenge.  Students began this process during unit one while investigating their communities. They will use this information to identify challenges in their communities, then select one challenge for which they wish to investigate further and develop a solution.  Design teams will be created to provide expert advice to students throughout the unit.  Rapid prototyping will be used to create a solution quickly and test that solution in order to make improvements and run through this process several times.  By the end of this unit students will have their solution prototyped and ready to present to their design teams and the MFC student cohort.

Student Outcomes

Project outcomes

  1. Investigate complex issues facing forests, drawing upon a wide range of community resources both in and out of school.

  2. Investigate emerging industries, technologies, and innovation.

  3. Collaborate with other students, natural resource practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and other community resources to apply available information to their understanding of natural resource management.

  4. Use a design process to create a solution to a challenge in a natural resource context based on application of current, adopted, or new technology.

Process outcomes

  1. Problem solving with a variety of strategies based on information available.

  2. Recognizing and making connections across multiple disciplines and learned information.

  3. Creating and using multiple representations to organize, record, and communicate solutions to complex issues facing natural resources and natural resource economies.

Guiding Principles

  1. Become a self-directed and lifelong learner who recognizes the need for quality natural resource information and knowledge from many different sources.

  2. Become a responsible and involved citizen who applies leadership skills to contemporary issues facing natural resource industries.

  3. Become a clear and effective communicator who applies advocacy skills, including research, argumentation, and presentation skills.

  4. Become a creative and practical problem solver who applies goal setting and problem-solving skills in novel situations in collaboration with other students, natural resource practitioners, research, policymakers, and other community resources.

  5. Become an integrative and informed thinker who gains and applies knowledge across natural resource disciplines and sources with and without technology.

 
Unit 3 Narrative

Investigating the Impact of the Solution 

Students will circle back to the guiding question for this project: How can we use natural resources to positively impact local communities? Students will assess the economic, environmental, and social impacts of their proposed solutions. Students will identify connections between the economic, environmental, and social/cultural impacts of their solutions. They will engage in deeper analysis and research concerning the solutions. Finally, they will synthesize their results and present their findings. 

Student Outcomes

Project outcomes

  1. Investigate complex issues facing forests, drawing upon a wide range of community resources both in and out of school.

  2. Investigate emerging industries, technologies, and innovation.

  3. Collaborate with other students, natural resource practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and other community resources to apply available information to their understanding of natural resource management.

  4. Understand and analyze the impacts of technology use on both the user and the targeted resource as it relates to the sustainability of both.

Process outcomes

  1. Recognizing and making connections across multiple disciplines and learned information.

  2. Communicating findings with well developed claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases. (CCSS.ELA - Literacy.W.11 - 12.1.b).

  3. Using real world data to back up claims and counterclaims.

Guiding Principles

  1. Become a self-directed and lifelong learner who recognizes the need for quality natural resource information and knowledge from many different sources.

  2. Become a responsible and involved citizen who applies leadership skills to contemporary issues facing natural resource industries.

  3. Become a clear and effective communicator who applies advocacy skills, including research, argumentation, and presentation skills.

  4. Become a creative and practical problem solver who applies goal setting and problem-solving skills in novel situations in collaboration with other students, natural resource practitioners, research, policymakers, and other community resources.

  5. Become an integrative and informed thinker who gains and applies knowledge across natural resource disciplines and sources with and without technology.