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Fannye A. Cook, Pioneer Conservationist and Scientist lesson plan


Mississippi has many natural resources and good stewardship practices can protect them. This lesson introduces students to Fannye Cook, the person responsible for many acts of wildlife conservation in Mississippi. As a pioneer conservationist and scientist in the early 20th century, Cook recognized serious conservation deficiencies in the state, formulated plans to correct the problem, clearly articulated a vision to raise the public consciousness, and worked tirelessly to establish a comprehensive state conservation program. The state’s award-winning Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, visited annually by thousands of people, stands as a tribute to the foresight and determination of this remarkable woman.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 2, and 3


Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12


Mississippi History Now article, Fannye A. Cook, Pioneer Conservationist and Scientist
• Computers
• Butcher paper, markers, etc. for display


Students will:

  • Seek knowledge by researching the life of Fannye Cook;
  • Communicate their findings by constructing a museum display; and
  • Recognize attributes in Fannye Cook’s life worth developing in their own lives.


To prepare students for the lesson, have them spend time on the website of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. This can be done in small groups or individually, depending on the availability of computers. Students will note the many programs and services of the department, including the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. If possible, decorate the room with pamphlets, brochures, and copies of Mississippi Outdoors to set the stage.

Teacher will list on the board, or transparency, student responses from their study of the website. Allow them to share any personal contact they may have had with agencies or programs of the department. (Some of them may hunt, many will have visited the museum, some may have read the magazine.)

In small groups, students will brainstorm answers to this question: How are the lives of Mississippians affected by the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks? After a few minutes, ask students to report their conclusions. Tell them that prior to 1932, Mississippi had no such agency and ask them to think of the implications of not having a wildlife agency. Now tell them that the existence of the department is primarily due to the vision and work of one person. Ask them to describe the type of person who would be interested in this type of endeavor; these characteristics should be listed on the board or in notes.


1. Ask students to read the first few paragraphs of the Mississippi History Now article to answer these questions:

  • Who was the force behind the creation of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks?
  • What were the childhood interests and educational experiences of this person?
  • What deficiencies in Mississippi did she identify that led her into this type of work?

2. Have students share their answers in a large group discussion and let them relate their findings to the list of the person’s characteristics previously listed on the board.

3. Teacher will divide the rest of the Mississippi History Now article into manageable sections to be assigned to small groups. Each group will prepare a museum display depicting their assigned section of Cook’s life. The display can be a re-creation of a type often seen in museums, such as a diorama, a detailed drawing, or mural, etc.

4. Students will assemble the display either in their classroom, the library, the hall, or for a PTA meeting. Each group will explain their display.


1. Lead a class discussion in which students share their impressions of Fannye Cook and why they think she was successful in what she wanted to accomplish.

2. Ask students to write a one- or two-page paper about Cook in which they: a) evaluate the contributions she made to the state; and, b) identify lessons they learned from her life.

3. Have students share their papers with their families and tell them about their museum display.


1. Participation in group work and class discussions
2. Completion of questions
3. Cooperation on museum display
4. Short paper


1. Schedule a class visit to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.

2. Invite a representative of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks to speak to the class.

3. Have students construct a map showing the location of Mississippi’s state parks or the department’s wildlife management areas.

4. Students prepare and present information on Mississippi’s endangered species.

5. Students investigate one of the specific programs of the wildlife department such as the Deer Program, Bear Program, or the Boater Education Program. Information about the many programs of the department can be found on the website.

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