Exploring Elk in Eastern Kentucky

Grants and Contracts Details


Students at Boyle County High School in central Kentucky have been visiting eastern Kentucky for the past two years to view the restored elk herds; however, they have not been involved in a comprehensive, systematic study that is tied to their school's curriculum. Students in eastern Kentucky, such as those at Harlan Independent High School, have heard about and seen elk but have not studied the herd or its economic impact on their community. Through this project, students will study a real-life agricultural science problem with researchers from UK and the KDFWR who are responding to a highly visible problem of regional interest. Through field and laboratory research, students will help find answers to wildlife and wildland conservation and ecotourism issues. Students will apply fundamental research approaches, including data collection, the use of GPS and GIS technology, radio-telemetry, and forward-looking infrared technology to explore how much land is available for elk in eastern Kentucky, how economic development can be tied to wildlife-related ecotourism, what other animals can share the elk habitat, ways to restore marginal habitat, and how to create a demand for habitat conservation. By doing so, this project will address Educational Need Area (a), Enhancing Agricultural Education through Curriculum Improvement by emphasizing innovative, experiential instructional approaches to enhance student learning and (b) Integrating Agricultural Education into the Curriculum by incorporating agricultural science subject matter into schools' curriculum and helping students gain a better understanding of environmental, economic, and agricultural science issues. The overall anticipated impacts of the project include the improvement of students' and teachers' content knowledge regarding wildlife biology and wildland conservation, improved understanding of science process skills and their understanding of the nature of science, the improvement of students' attitudes toward agricultural sciences, and an increase in students' motivation to engage in agricultural science-related courses and careers. The information these students generate will be timely and is likely to be highly visible in the region. Since 2004, the Tracy Farmer Center for the Environment (TFCE) of UK's College of Agriculture has been conducting community-based projects with an agricultural-science focus in schools across Kentucky. The program has grown from 3 schools, 3 teachers, 1 project, and approximately 120 students to 11 schools, 17 teachers, approximately 700 students, and 7 projects. Qualitative data show that the program has increased content knowledge on key science concepts. At the 2004 Kentucky Science Teachers Association conference, middle school girls in the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome program, the first community-based project, reported being engaged in their science program for the first time in their school careers. The program has been funded by United States Department of Agriculture, the Kentucky Department of Education, and the Kentucky Council of Postsecondary Education. Direct exposure to scientific research has changed the presentation of science in those schools participating in the community-based program; therefore, with this solicitation, the program will be expanded to include the new elk study in eastern Kentucky. The project will be designed in a modular format and will be amenable to adoption in whole or part by other institutions.
Effective start/end date9/1/076/30/09


  • Boyle County Schools: $28,000.00


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