The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 9, 2013

Curriculum uses Dust Bowl lessons

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The Conservation Districts of Oklahoma have contracted with educator and Dust Bowl survivor Pauline Hodges to develop curriculum to help students become aware of the need for conserving land and other natural resources through the lessons of the Dust Bowl.

“We are extremely excited to work with Dr. Hodges to create this curriculum and make it available to the schools of our state,” said Kim Farber, president of Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD). “By telling the story of the Dust Bowl we hope to be able to instill in the next generation of Oklahomans an understanding for why it is so important that we protect our natural resources.

“We cannot tell you how happy we are to be working with Pauline on this project and we are looking forward to helping place this material at the disposal of our states educators.”

A veteran of more than 50 years in the classroom, Hodges has taught in public school and at the university level, serving as a university department chair, language arts coordinator for one of the country’s largest school districts and as a national educational consultant. Hodges also has served as a member of the board of directors of National Rural Education Association, including a stint as president in 1998.

The curriculum created by Hodges is based upon an earlier version she used prior to the recent release of the Ken Burn’s film “The Dust Bowl,” a production on which she worked as a researcher and in which she was interviewed.

Farber said the curriculum created by Hodges is built partially around the film “The Dust Bowl” with additional assignments utilizing the book “Whose Names Are Unknown” by Sanora Babb, a firsthand account of the conditions in the migrant camps of California.

The curriculum also will use parts of “The Grapes of Wrath,” John Steinbeck’s account of a migrant family that leaves Oklahoma for camps in California. Inter-views with survivors whose parents plowed up the land in what would later become the Dust Bowl in the early 1900s only to have it blow away during the “Dirty Thirties.” The curriculum will also provide a look at federal programs that helped farmers and others survive these terrible times.

Activities students will participate in include writing assignments, speaking assignments, opportunities for students to study soil science and farming practices that contributed to the cause of the disaster and even cooking of a Dust Bowl-era meal.

The curriculum will provide a great tool for teachers, and also will serve as an opportunity to build a stronger bridge between the work of local conservation districts and local schools, Farber said.

“Education is the key to making sure that we never again suffer a natural disaster like the one we experienced during the Dust Bowl,” Farber said. “Our hope is that by making this material available to our local schools through our conservation districts, we can insure that the next generation of Oklahomans understand why it is so critical that we protect our natural resources. We learned the hard way in the 1930s what can happen if we don’t take care of the land. Hopefully that’s a lesson we never have to re-learn.”

Anyone interested in the curriculum should call OACD Executive Director Clay Pope at (405) 699-2087 or email