History of the Idea
In fall 2002, two respected members of the city of Monticello, Utah’s Economic Development Committee proposed the idea of a hands-on, informal educational science center in rural Utah that they believed would create new opportunities for the area’s students, teachers, families, and economy. Over the following years, the idea was developed and expanded by the Economic Development Committee and their chosen partner, Four Corners School of Outdoor Education (FCS).
This partnership produced three scoping meetings, thirty-two focus groups, forty leadership team meetings, twenty informational meetings, eight mini-science events, a Market/Feasibility Study, and a Business Plan. These events were needed to make certain that The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education was likely to succeed and would meet the needs of the community it would serve.
The Need for DICE
Nationally, The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education will fill a need to ensure children and their families spend time outdoors to improve their physical, psychological, and spiritual health.
Regionally, the Colorado Plateau's concerns include high unemployment, poor academic preparation, lack of a trained workforce, and lack of opportunities for schools to train and keep teachers. In addition, Native Americans are nearly a quarter of the Plateau's population and one of the most educationally and economically disadvantaged groups in the nation. As a group, they show deficiencies in English proficiency and unusually high dropout rates at junior high, secondary, and postsecondary levels. A high percentage of Native American students are low-income and first-generation college youth with poor academic achievement. Data for the rural school districts of the four states of the Colorado Plateau also indicate a greater gap in educational attainment, with students' scores lagging behind their own state and national average scores.
Locally, San Juan County, Utah has historically been an economically disadvantaged area. The County's unemployment rate is 11%, which is 6.2% higher than the national average and only 11.8% of the area’s population over the age of 25 holds a four-year college degree. In San Juan County, 30.3% of the population lacks a high school diploma.
The Content Areas of DICE Programs
In accord with its educational philosophy, all of The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education will be based on five content areas related to the Colorado Plateau with six or more interactive learning stations in each content area inside the Visitors Center plus many more outside on our 20 acre outdoor classroom:
- Natural History and Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau
- People and Place of the Colorado Plateau
- Canyon Country Land Use and Energy
- Canyon Country Astronomy and Weather
- Water and its Effects on the Region
Through Onsite, Outreach, Research, and Technology programs, The Discovery Institute for Conservation Education will reach 35,000 people per year onsite and 97,000 per year via:
- Hands-on Exhibits
- Teacher Education Programs (onsite and outreach)
- Certification Programs
- After School and Evening Programs/Workshops/Lectures
- Education Programs for K-12 Students and Teachers (onsite and outreach)
- Research Programs and Conference Facilities
- Education Outreach (for teachers and school groups)