HEART Force Hazard Education Awareness & Resilience Task Force Project

CIRES Education & Outreach, University of Colorado Boulder

2022 Innovative EE Program Award Recipient

HEARTForce Program

Hazard Education Awareness & Resilience Task Force project (HEART Force) is a youth and community engagement project that inspires and empowers rural Colorado middle and high school teachers and their students to act as the change agents to build community resilience against locally-relevant natural hazards (wildfire, flood and drought). Students and their teachers learn about local natural hazards, play scenario-based role-play games to develop strategies around community preparedness and develop plans for resilience action projects. Research findings have shown significant impacts on students after participating in HEART Force, with increased confidence in three areas: 1) students’ understanding of community resilience; 2) their knowledge about preparation and responses to natural hazards in their communities; and 3) talking to community members about how to improve resilience (Littrell et al., 2021).

HEART Force partners with teachers, science content experts, and local and state-wide resilience practitioners to support students in their learning and develop plans for improving their local community resilience. The HEART Force model is being used as a model to develop additional place and project-based learning curricula, inspire community action, empower students as change agents and elevate their voices in the community conversation around natural hazards and resilience. The innovative components of the project engage students in their own learning process and motivate students that are traditionally not interested in science topics. HEART Force supports dozens of rural Colorado teachers and hundreds of their students already and fills an important niche in supporting resilience education across the entire state.