Spending a semester away at Conserve School in the heart of Wisconsin’s Northwoods can be a bit scary. To help students understand and overcome their fears English teacher Jeff Rennicke begins each semester with an exploration of the origins of fear of the wilderness. Jeff tells his students, “whether we realize it or not, fear is still often at the heart of our relationship with nature — fear of the dark, fear of wild animals, fear of the unknown hoots and calls and footfalls in the night. To be an effective environmental communicator we must acknowledge that fear and seek to understand it both in ourselves and in others.” As part of this unit students read Chapter 1 (“Old World Roots of Opinion”) of the classic wilderness text, Wilderness and the American Mind, by Roderick Nash.
At the end of the unit students produce creative projects that explore the concepts presented. Projects can take a wide range of forms. You are invited to take a look at the video produced by Lange Navarro from Tucson, Arizona where she speaks to her greatest fear.