6-8 Teachers Guide

The Greatest Good film was produced by the U.S. Forest Service in honor of its centennial in 2005. The film offers a historical overview of the last 100 years of natural resource management.

The Greatest Good DVD includes three disks, and is available for purchase. Disc 1 contains the two-hour history documentary film, detailing, in four 30-minute parts, some of the major Forest Service events and issues from the early 1900's to present. Disc 2 contains bonus materials, including the original film trailers (ads), as well as music videos, various views on hot topics in the Forest Service, and historic public service announcements. Disc 3 contains additional bonus materials including such topics as fire, Smokey Bear, brief historical short stories, and historical outtakes from the film. To learn more about what is on the three discs, see The Greatest Good DVD index.

Lesson Plans & Discussion Ideas

"The Fight for Conservation, 1864-1910," [Disc 1, Part I] - initial idea of public lands in America and the development of the US Forest Service

"Building the System, 1911-1940," [Disc 1, Part II] - the management of public lands by the U.S. Forest Service

"Building the System, 1911-1940," [Disc 1, Part II] and/or "Boom!"[Part III] or "Fire"[Disc 3] - information about wildfires on public lands

  • If Trees Could Talk, Module 9 ("Wildfires: Fight, Flight or Coexistence?") - The Forest History Society has students examine the history of wildland fires and their impact on society in America. Exploring our approaches to living with fire, students will examine various fire management techniques including prescribed fires, fire suppression, and fire prevention.
  • "Living with Fire" The US Forest Service offers students the opportunity to learn more about Fire Management through an interactive game. (Grades 4 and up)
  • Living with Fire, a PLT activity (grades 4-8) - Students will learn of several approaches to fire management.
  • The Natural Inquirer "Wildland Fire Edition," a middle school science education journal created by the USDA Forest Service. This particular edition focuses on wildfires.
  • Taking a Stand: Pros and Cons of Forest Fires, created by the Educational Broadcasting Corporation, students will learn about various aspects of forest fires, as well as research techniques and formulating opinions backed by facts.

"Boom!" [Disc 1, Part III] - Forest Service management policies after W.W.II -meeting the needs of the public

"The Greatest Good? 1971-2005" [Disc 1, Part IV] - evolving Forest Service management policies - policy changes due to new understandings of ecosystems

"Conservation Leaders" [Disc 2] - a brief overview of the Forest Service and conservation

"Forest Service vs. Park Service" [Disc 2] - differences between these two federal agencies

  • Discussion ideas: What is the difference between Forest Service and Park Service? Do they have the same mission? How do you think public lands should be managed? Have students develop their own "public lands management policies."

"International Programs" [Disc 3] - highlights work of the Forest Service around the world

Continue to check the Forest History Society website for further modules being added to the "If Trees Could Talk" curriculum.