black and white photo of two middle school aged children looking out over a mountain scape

Educational Outreach

Part of the mission of FHS is to educate students of all ages about the history of human interaction with the forested environment. By using our library and archival materials, publications, and films, we disseminate information in innovative ways. Each autumn, a leading scholar or leader in natural resources who is shaping our understanding of human history and environmental change delivers the Lynn W. Day Distinguished Lectureship in Forest and Conservation History; recordings of the talks are available on our YouTube channel. Our middle school environmental education curriculum “If Trees Could Talk” is available as a free resource, as is a teachers’ guide to the U.S. Forest Service centennial history film The Greatest Good. In addition to high school and college classrooms, our award-winning film, America’s First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment, about the birth of professional forestry and the conservation movement, is used in professional forester and logger training programs.



If Trees Could Talk: A Curriculum in Environmental History is an 11-module, middle school curriculum that gives teachers the opportunity to download social studies activities that are based upon archival materials. The centerpiece of each module is a compilation of primary resources—documents, maps, newspaper articles, oral histories or photographs—from which students are asked to gather, examine, and analyze information, and synthesize insights.

The Greatest Good

The Greatest Good film and companion book were produced for the U.S. Forest Service’s centennial in 2005 and provide an in-depth look at natural resource management during the 20th century. Using this film in a classroom offers an ideal way for students to study many related issues such as forest conservation, the role of wildfire in our society, wildlife protection, human impacts on the environment, and environmental decision-making in a democracy.

America's First Forest

The film America's First Forest (55 min.), and its adapted version First in Forestry (28 min.), is about the Biltmore Forest School and the birth of the forest conservation in the United States. With support from the U.S. Forest Service, FHS has developed worksheets and discussion questions for both films. The films correlate with several essential standards identified in the North Carolina Eighth Grade Social Studies Standard Course of Study.

Benefits of Environmental Education


Helping the next generation of adults develop a strong environmental ethic and smart decision-making skill set is a continuing challenge to K-12 educators in the United States. While environmental education has been well-instituted in science classrooms, little information for social studies classrooms existed before the If Trees Could Talk curriculum. Future decision-makers need a knowledge of and connection to the environment that surrounds them, as well as an understanding of what policies and issues have brought us to our current place in time. If Trees Could Talk fulfills this need, and helps students develop critical thinking skills on environmental issues within a social context. Incorporating environmental history into the social studies curriculum will help produce better informed and more productive future citizens.


Can environmental education promote student well-being and academic success? What research is available? What proven benefits exist about the use of environmental education? With an emphasis on standards and test scores, is there time for environmental education or should educators make time for environmental education?

This web page provides you with the tools to determine if environmental education is right for your classroom and your purposes. There are numerous studies that link higher test score results to student participation in environmental education. There are also numerous studies linking students' overall well-being to participation in outdoor play and environmental education. Environmental education has been linked to increased student retention, impulse control, and concentration. Below are opportunities to learn about additional benefits of environmental education.