The Diack Family Oregon Ecology Education Program

A Division of Oregon Science Teachers Association

What Makes a Project Successful?

In spring 2001, Diack performed a random survey of its previously funded projects and learned that many long-term ecology education programs have thrived from its initial seed money. So, what makes these programs successful? Among the projects surveyed, it found the following common ingredients. Diack offers these as insights to help you make your project successful and sustainable for years to come.

  • Nearby Study Sites – Choose a site that is easily accessible and/or within walking distance from your school. Having a local site will give students more ownership in the project and more opportunities to explore the site.
  • Support – Prevent burnout by gathering support and participation from other teachers (from the same or different schools), administration, parents and classroom volunteers.
  • Professional Partnership – Develop partnerships with natural resource agencies and community organizations. As the technical experts of the project, their participation will enable your students to gain skills using current scientific methodology while studying authentic data.
  • Engaging Projects – Involve your students in designing a project that is interesting, authentic and meaningful to themselves and the community. Ecology studies can be as varied as the students themselves, but allowing their voices to be reflected in whatever project the class undertakes will stimulate student enthusiasm.

Coordinating a project’s logistics and generating support can consume a large part of a project leader’s time. To prevent burnout, use the resources in your community. Project leaders have developed partnerships with the following agencies and community organizations:

  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Forest Service
  • US Bureau of Land Management
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
  • OSU/OSU Cooperative Extension and 4-H Programs
  • PSU, SOU, EOU and other local colleges and universities
  • City, County and state parks departments, utilities and environmental services
  • Community councils for forests, salmon and watersheds National Wildlife Federation
  • Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy and The Native Plant Society
  • Local Nature centers and historic societies
  • Timber Companies and local businesses
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