The International Wolf Center in Ely, MN has earned its second Pinnacle Award for WolfLink™, a unique and effective way of connecting people with wolves using technology. The award presented by the Center for Interactive Learning Collaboration (CILC) recognizes excellence in videoconferencing programming.
WolfLink™, introduced in 2006, is a two-way videoconferencing program that features live wolves in their naturalized habitat at the IWC. Wolf experts develop the lesson plans and engage students in lively presentations, activities, and discussions concerning wolves and their vital place in today's changing environment.
The programs not only bring the world of wolves to kids as a way to give them opportunities they wouldn't normally have, they also include interdisciplinary material and are comprehensive in scope. The programs involve math, science, art, history, language arts and geography – all core curriculum courses “and that is so valuable when we as teachers are so short on time,” explains Minneapolis elementary school teacher Jacquelyn Ballet.
“Kids are really fascinated by wolves,” adds Tara Johnson, a K-12 teacher, WolfLink™ presenter and program specialist at the Center, but that's just a starting point. “When you add in our ambassador wolves as living, breathing, howling, teaching tools, it doesn't get more engaging that that.”
This marks the second time the International Wolf Center has won a Pinnacle Award, the first occasion being for the 2009-2010 school year. The IWC received Honorable Mention from the CILC in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. That's a lot of recognition for a program only introduced in 2006 but it highlights the groundbreaking status of WolfLink™. “Although we have members in more than 36 countries, most will never get the chance to travel to Ely, Minnesota, to see our ambassador wolves in person,” states Rob Schultz, executive director of the IWC. “With WolfLink™ we can bring that experience directly to many of them.”
While the customizable nature of the IWC's WolfLink™ videoconferencing programming makes them ideal for venues such as nature centers, nursing homes, hospitals and community centers to name a few, they have been most heavily used in classrooms across the globe as a way to reach out to the next generation with multi-disciplinary education centered on wolves.
Those teaching the next generation agree wholeheartedly. “It was super exciting at the end of our program when the kids could hear the wolves at the Center actually howling,” relates Jacquelyn Ballet. “It was just priceless.” Please visit the IWC website for more information on how the International Wolf Center teaches the world about wolves and to see a short WolfLink™ video.