About the NRCA

The Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) is an innovative program in conservation that engages Connecticut high school students, adult volunteers and teachers with environmental efforts at the community level. NRCA’s interconnected efforts (below) benefit students and adults by conducting education on natural resource management and geospatial technology, and facilitating the use of these new skills in the implementation of local conservation projects that benefit the community. Check out our Infographic for an snap-shot of the NRCA's impact to date.  


The NRCA mission is to engage diverse teen and adult participants in natural resources conservation through place-based, experiential outdoor education, and facilitate community action through collaborative partnerships that contribute to local environmental solutions.


The NRCA vision encompasses:

  • A statewide, vibrant, and robust network of multi-sector partners that brings together scientific, educational, and community expertise and resources to support local-level natural resource initiatives;
  • Communities across Connecticut equipped with knowledge and skills to address environmental issues, empowering them to improve and protect local natural resources; and
  • Individuals, both independently and collectively, recognizing systems of oppression, confronting them, and striving to promote and uphold educational justice, environmental justice, and racial equity.

Conservation Ambassador Program

NRCA's Conservation Ambassadors Program is great for high school students (grades 9 to 11) that are interested in the environment or science. Through a week-long field experience at UConn and an individual community conservation project, this program engages high school students in natural resource science and conservation biology in a fun and exciting way through experiential, place-based learning. This program was awarded the 2016 Maria Pirie Environmental Education Program Award from the New England Environmental Education Alliance.


Conservation Training Partnerships

NRCA’s Conservation Training Partnerships is a program for both high school students (grades 9 to 12) and adult volunteers. This program includes a 2-day workshop that introduces participants to natural resources topics and practical approaches to conservation through the use of mapping technologies. At the workshop, teams of teen and adult participants collaborate to create interactive maps using smartphone GPS applications and geo-referenced web data surveys that can be used for field data collection. Time at the workshop is also spent brainstorming and developing environmental actions that teams can then carry out in their own community.


Teacher Professional Learning

NRCA’s Teacher Professional Learning provides a 3-day professional development workshop for upper middle school and high school science teachers who teach in the Earth Sciences (via integrated or stand-alone courses). Participants are immersed in relevant local and regional water resource issues and online mapping tools to study these issues further. The workshop also offers curricular and technological resources that participants will use to design 5-7 modules on a Water and Sustainability Science unit underpinning particular Next Generation Science Standards’ Earth and Space Science Performance Expectations.


Difference Maker Interns

Difference Maker (DM) Interns are NRCA alumni who are currently enrolled as UConn undergraduate students. During the summer term, DMs serve as interns in the Conservation Ambassador Program's field experience. DMs work behind the scenes to make the field experience a success, support program activities, and aid in planning and execution. During the semester, they focus on participant engagement and science communication. DMs choose their focus area and contribute to significant initiatives, such as managing the NRCA's social media presence, creating multimedia content, communicating with current NRCA participants, and aiding in recruitment for NRCA programs.


Land Acknowledgement

We recognize that the land on which our organization operates is the territory of the Mohegan, Mashantucket Pequot, Eastern Pequot, Schaghticoke, Golden Hill Paugussett, Nipmuc, and Lenape Peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout the generations. We thank them for their strength and resilience in protecting this land, and aspire to uphold our responsibilities according to their example.


The NRCA is a partnership among:
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