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Wallop Virtual Library: Civic Engagement Learning in Wyoming

May 2, 2021  

   On March 4th, the University of Wyoming Wallop Civic Engagement Program K-12 Project Team and Trustees Education Initiative (TEI) led the NNER First Thursday webinar. This webinar focused on bringing civic engagement back into classrooms along with a focus on cross-college collaboration.

     The Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Program was launched in 2017 with the focus on civic engagement learning in Wyoming communities and K-12 schools. This program funded faculty and student research projects and sponsored public presentations on civics such as democracy in America and around the world. In Spring 2020, this program team saw how the experiences with COVID-19 could be an opportunity to address K-12 education needs across the state and needs of our rural communities. From there, they began working with the College of Education TEI team to learn how they could develop virtual modules that would align with the Wyoming social studies content and performance standards. These virtual modules included expertise from multiple UW and Wyoming community college professors, among others, and had a standardized format to assist K-12 teachers when covering what was shown in the videos. Additional research materials such as teacher resource guides were also presented to the teachers in Wyoming so they could work with classrooms on developing insightful conversations with their students on highly relevant topics. Within the first year, they saw more school districts in Wyoming using the resource than they were able to reach in prior years – with use by teachers in 13 of Wyoming’s 23 counties to date. This sparked interest in more material being covered which has led to an expansion of the Malcolm Wallop Civic Engagement Virtual Catalog that took place in March of 2021. To review the virtual library, you can go to https://uwyo3.catalog.instructure.com/. For more information, you can contact wallop@uwyo.edu.

     One of NNER’s primary tenets is cross-college collaboration and it is fair to say that the Wallop Team and TEI’s work highlights that successful collaboration. It reminds us that the goal of education in K-12 to see insightful and creative minds grow is not siloed into any single institution. Multiple professors and staff provide tools and techniques that help shape the minds of the future. In addition, College of Education staff and faculty consistently review the current state of education and can provide helpful knowledge surrounding community needs throughout Wyoming. Throughout the webinars, NNER members from around the nation discussed how important other college professionals and community organizations were to the development of teachers as agents of change. As we move forward in this highly virtualized society, there is potential to reach more students in rural areas that may not always have access to community college or university professionals. The Wallop Virtual Catalog highlights the importance of civic engagement and the devotion of so many professionals in ensuring that K-12 students have the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their democracy.

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