PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is excited to announce that Rhody Critter Kits are back for another year. Educational resources for K-8 educators organized thematically into learning modules, Critter Kits contain lesson plans, activities, videos, hands-on learning guides, and other fun-filled resources developed by the DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Outreach staff. The kits emphasize native wildlife species, conservation work, and management practices.

“Rhody Critter Kits have been designed to connect elementary-age students to the wildlife resources right in their own backyards and communities, as well as spread awareness about wildlife conservation work in Rhode Island,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “I appreciate the effort, creativity, and sense of fun that our Wildlife Outreach team put into making these vibrant materials, and am particularly proud that our team developed them to conform with Next Generation Science Standards. Science is central to our lives and DEM hopes that Critter Kits will spark an interest in today’s students to solve problems, tinker, build things, tear things apart, and explore outside.”

“In our Rhody Critter Kits, we included video interviews with our biologists and fun virtual field trips to give students a behind-the-scenes look at conservation work in action,” said Wildlife Outreach Coordinator Mary Gannon. “We’ve also included resources and suggestions on how teachers and students can get involved and help wildlife right in their own schoolyards, backyards, and communities. Whether it’s submitting an observation of a frog through the DEM HerpObserver app or planting native plants in your school garden, there are lots of ways educators can create direct connections to our wildlife and contribute to conservation. These resources aren’t just for classroom teachers, either. We encourage informal educators, homeschooling families, scouting groups, and other groups interested in Rhode Island’s wildlife to check them out! We also have partnered with the RI Office of Library and Information Services to provide a set of kits for children’s librarians.”

DEM Wildlife Outreach staff have developed five kits: Feathered Friends, Bat Chat, Keeping the Balance, Scales and Slime, and Home Sweet Habitat. Kits are available to borrow, free of charge, for two weeks at a time. To reserve a kit, visit www.dem.ri.gov/critterkits to view available dates and then fill out the reservation form to request a kit. Once your reservation has been confirmed, your kit may be picked up any time during your reservation period. Educators in the Providence, Bristol, and Kent Counties may borrow kits through the Washington Park Library in Providence. Educators in Washington and Newport Counties may borrow kits through the DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Great Swamp Headquarters in West Kingston. Librarians should reserve kits through the OLIS Equipment Catalog. All written resources are available online for use anytime by visiting the Critter Kits website.

The Rhody Critter Kits program is made possible through support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) Program and State Wildlife Grants (SWG) from hunting licenses, permits, and excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Monies are allocated each year to DEM through the WSFR Program to fund wildlife research, monitoring, habitat acquisition and restoration, wildlife outreach programs, and aquatic resource and hunter education courses. Additional funds from the SWG Program are allocated to support conservation and outreach efforts for Rhode Island’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

For additional questions about Rhody Critter Kits and Wildlife Outreach Program, please email mary.gannon@dem.ri.gov.

For more information on DEM programs and services, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), Facebook, or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem and @ri.fishandwildlife).

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