Lesson 3B: Conservationists, Preservationists and Capitalists

Lesson 3B: Conservationists, Preservationists and Capitalists            Grade level: 7-12      Time: 3 class periods

Cross Curricular/Cross Lesson: 1C: Context of Conservation; 1D: Consistent Issues; 2C: Stewardship, Consequences and New Ideas; 3A: The Progressives; 4A: Conservation vs Preservation; 6A: Sustaining forests; 6E: Pol. Cartoons

PDE Academic Standards: 1.1.8/11; 1.2.8/11; 1.4.8/10; 1.6.8/11; 4.2.8/10; 4.3.7/10; 4.8.7/10/12; 5.1.9/12; 5.2.9/12; 5.3.9/12; 6.2.9; 6.4.9; 6.5.9/12;7.4.9/12; 8.1.9/12; 8.2.9/12; 8.3.9/12



–Students will experience the many facets and opinions of the conservation debate

–Students will research a role in the conservation debate and defend the role through argument

–Students will explore the reasons why each approach was supported or rejected



Seeking the Greatest Good

Encounters with the Archdruid by John McFee


Anticipatory Set:  (2min)      “Moment of Zen”       Discuss the quote as it relates to both students and the topic.

“The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”
– President Theodore Roosevelt


–View Chapter III of Seeking the Greatest Good

–Students will be assigned a role play identity and a part for this activity.  Students can be paired up or put in groups of three (max).  Each student (or group of students) will receive one of the following parts:

John D. Rockefeller                 Andrew Carnegie                      Gifford Pinchot                        Theodore Roosevelt

John Muir                                Woodrow Wilson                     John McGowan                        Mine Owner

RR Boss                                   Western rancher                      Any other key player of the conservation movement


–After each student is assigned their role and a primary source document with quotations from that person, they will research more about their role.

–After the students have gotten to know their character they will all answer the following question as their character:   Should land be set aside for preservation or conservation purposes and does the government have a right or a responsibility to do so?  Would you vote for the passage of the Forest Reserve Act of 1891 which authorized the government to reserve land as “forest reserves”?  Tally the class’s vote.  Next, ask them to vote as themselves and compare the outcomes.


Cross-Curricular extension (grades 10-12)

Assign student groups each a chapter of John McPhee Encounters with the Archdruid

Working in groups, the students will answer the questions given and will then discuss the merits and differences of the approaches to the environment from each main character (Appendix C)


Closure/Summary:            (3min)

Answer the Key Question

–How did the attitudes of conservationists contrast with the attitudes of railroad and mine owners and other special interests of the time?   How different or similar are these attitudes and interests in today’s conversations?

-Does the government have a right or a responsibility to govern land use?  Should/can the government                                   constitutionally legislate conservation or preservation?

–Which is the “better” approach – conservation, preservation, or private enterprise?  Is there even a “better”?



Students will be evaluated based on the quality of their responses



This lesson and Lesson 2C: Stewardship, Consequences and New Ideas can act as an extension of each other if the instructor wishes.  Lesson 3C: Government Power also has a strong tie to the Key Questions and overlaps somewhat.

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