Even if you can’t get out into the outdoors, you can still learn plenty about nature, thanks to Conservation Connect, the Service’s online video series targeting young people. Each eight-minute episode highlights wildlife, careers and new technologies utilized to study and protect wild animals and the habitats on which they depend. Students and teachers who tune into the live broadcast can ask us questions and chat with our biologists in real time.

The series starts tomorrow, October 21, and to get ready for next week’s Bat Week, the topic is bats and small mammals. To view the live broadcast, visit http://nctc.fws.gov/broadcasts, and come back every third Wednesday of the month at 2 p.m. ET.

Recent episodes have taken host Chelsea McKinney and her camera crew to West Virginia’s Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, where she and her youth co-hosts went in search of the threatened Cheat Mountain salamander. “These kids bring a contagious positive energy,” says Chelsea with a grin. “Their passion shows in this episode.” Other refuges she’s spotlighted are Ding Darling, Sevilleta, Hopper Mountain and Valle de Oro.

This online video series provides a new way to reach underserved audiences as part of refuge environmental education programs. Conservation Connect uses both interdisciplinary and blended learning approaches. Science and technology are explored through distance learning, while hands-on and virtual experiences are offered by additional online resources posted with each episode. In that way,

Conservation Connect is building partnerships with academic organizations, too. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has enthusiastically embraced the new program and is working closely with the Conservation Connect team to develop content and resources. The organization’s 55,000 members will be conduits for getting the program into classrooms as part of middle school science curriculums nationwide.