Natural Resource Conservation Academy

Transformative Life Experiences with Environmental Education

nrca students in waterUConn’s Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) offers several educational programs for both children and adults, including the Conservation Ambassador Program, Conservation Partnership program, and Teacher Professional Learning program. Environmental education is a crucial part of working towards a more sustainable world. The first step in making positive environmental changes both locally and worldwide is making sure that the public is knowledgeable on issues and their possible solutions.

This summer, I am working with the NRCA as their Environmental Education Intern through the UConn Extension program. In this position I will help organize and teach the UConn Pre-College Summer Environmental Conservation course. This involves preparing lessons and activities for high school students covering a range of topics such as green infrastructure, forestry, wildlife techniques, and water quality. Through this program, I hope to inspire students to continue their education in environmental topics, and also to place value on conservation and sustainability issues. At the end of the program, the students will have come up with an environmental project to complete in their own community. I hope that through this position I will push future college students to continue to value the environment and take action in their communities. In addition to preparing materials for the course, I am also assisting NRCA with analyzing databases with information on programs from the previous years, to be able to better understand participation, demographics, and project topics. This will help NRCA create informed goals when it comes to improving their programs and catering them to the public.

By Abigail Bar, UConn Extension Intern

Applications are Open for NRCA Program

nrca students in water

Applications are now open for the UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA).

The NRCA engages high school students and adult volunteers in environmental education and service learning. Participants explore natural resource science and carry out a local conservation project in/around their own towns throughout Connecticut.

View these short videos about the NRCA Conservation Ambassador Program and Conservation Training Partnerships program.

Visit to learn more and apply.

Questions? Contact Amy Cabaniss (, 486-5239) or Nicole Freidenfelds (, 486-6933)

STEM Education for Teens, Adults, and Teachers

nrca students in waterThe Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) is a group of three linked projects that focus on connecting STEM education for high school students with natural resource conservation at the local level. With over 130 land trusts in the state and each of its 169 municipalities having a Conservation Commission, Connecticut has a long history of local conservation. NRCA provides an assist to these efforts, while educating students and teachers about the science and issues surrounding natural resource protection. The TPL is joined by the foundational NRCA project, the Conservation Ambassador Program (CAP), and the Conservation Training Partnership (CTP). CAP brings high school students from around the state to campus for a week-long intensive field experience at the UConn main campus, from which they return home to partner with a community organization on a conservation project of their own design. CTP moves around the state for two-day training of adult-student teams that teaches them about smart phone mapping applications and their use in conservation. The teams then return and implement a conservation project. Together the three programs have educated 308 participants and resulted in 187 local conservation projects in 105 towns, involving 119 community partner organizations.

Article by Chet Arnold

Teens Master the Art (and fun!) of Mapping at UConn’s NRC Academy

topoThe Natural Resource Conservation Academy (NRCA) is an innovative program in conservation and land use planning for a select group of Connecticut high school students. The Academy starts with a week-long field course at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Throughout the week, students interact with UConn faculty and learn about mapping and geospatial information, water, forestry, wildlife, soils and more. However, to pass muster at the Academy the work/fun doesn’t end there!  In the months to come, students complete a natural resource project in their communities, using the skills and knowledge that they gained over the summer.

Quite a few CLEAR faculty participate in the summer field course.  Because of its obvious superiority to all the other disciplines, Day One of the Academy is dedicated to mapping and geospatial information. Thus, Cary and I had the opportunity to work with this bright group of students and expose them to all sorts of fun mapping topics.

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