By JACQUELINE KELLY
Capital News Service
LANSING — If you grew up in Michigan, might remember reading the wildlife magazine Tracks in your elementary school classroom.
Supported and written by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), the magazine has taught children in and outside the classroom about local wildlife and ecosystems for 40 years.
That’s long enough for editors to see the lifelong impact their work has on its readers, said Tyler Butler, the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp director, as well as half of the Tracks creative team.
“It’s a wild experience coming across parents who remember reading the publication when they were a child,” Butler said. “Often, these parents have grown into outdoor enthusiasts and natural resource conscious adults that get a reminder of their childhood when they hold one of our publications in their hands.”
Butler and Shaun McKeon, the group’s educational coordinator, create content that meets Michigan’s science education standards. Occasionally they introduce young readers to native animals they may not even know exist.
“We are happy to introduce new and unfamiliar species to our readers and even happier when our readers declare that they now have a new favorite animal,” Butler said.
Their goal is to educate children about natural resources and the Great Lakes region’s wildlife. Each issue contains a quiz and classroom activity to bring the reading to life.
“As time has gone on and kids have gotten used to different types of media, we have had to adjust the magazine,” McKeon said.
Over the years, the magazine’s style has changed to captivate young minds by including more graphics and changing from a newspaper format to a storytelling format. As a print publication, Tracks can be used to improve reading comprehension and engage kids in school districts that might not be completely digital.
The outdoor group also offers a six-day, five-night summer camp to introduce a love for the outdoors to Michigan kids.
Since 1946, MUCC has helped more than 50,000 kids learn about nature and conservation. They camp, fish, canoe, swim, hike and learn about forestry, wildlife identification and archery. Campers can also earn hunter education certificates and learn conservation practices.
The magazine can be found in elementary classrooms all over the United States and is available for an individual subscription.
Jacqueline Kelly writes for Great Lakes Echo.
By JACQUELINE KELLY