Curriculum Overview

For many, if not all of your students, this experience will become one of the defining moments in their lives. Principal Larry Alperto to his Wild Treasures’ teacher after observing the 5th/6th graders at his school presenting their proposal to the school board.

Wild Treasures consists of two distinct 5th-8th grade curricula: Local and Do It Yourself. Before highlighting their differences, consider their similarities.

Both curricula explore the many ways natural and human systems contribute to or compromise the quality of life for future generations. Participating classes try to persuade their school board to fund a sustainable development initiative that will help their school become more environmentally sustainable. Their research, proposal, and actions must be demonstrably rooted in the principles of sustainability they were challenged to learn about during the first phase of the curriculum when they are first introduced to some big sustainability ideas. Both curricula can be readily adapted to larger community-based problems.

In every phase of Wild Treasures (Challenge, Research, Proposal and Action) students deepen their understanding of a set of ideas that comprise the principles of sustainability: waste, exponential growth, cycling, feedback, and entropy. They will research these ideas relative to their school’s operation. They will use these ideas to propose to their school board a plan to improve the sustainability profile of their school. And they will turn their proposal into action by actually improving their school’s sustainability profile. Little do they know that they are about to embark on a deep inquiry into some big ideas that will change the way they think about themselves, their culture, and future generations. There are important differences, however, between the Local and Do It Yourself curricula.


Antioch’s Local Wild Treasures is a full-year program directed and facilitated by graduate students at Antioch University New England. A Wild Treasures’ facilitator is available to visit each class on a weekly basis and to help guide students toward a successful completion of the program.

Participating classes are within a 50-mile radius of Keene, NH, and must be accepted into the program. For the first seven years of the local program, classes were eligible to earn up to $1500 that can be spent toward researching about and improving their school’s sustainable practices. Instead of earning award money, classes are now eligible to earn the support and assistance from a Science Teacher Certification student from the Department of Environmental Studies. The successful completion of the program leads to a Governor’s Sustainability Award.

The local program begins in September in a forest along a winding path surrounding an 800,000-ton capped landfill and a symphony of sounds produced by the very active Cheshire Materials Recovery Center and Transfer Station. It ends when the class demonstrates their accomplishments turning their school board approved proposal into action and earns a Governor’s Sustainability Award.

Do It Yourself

Antioch’s Do It Yourself Wild Treasures is a curriculum that can be done anywhere in the world. It includes all of the major phases of the local program, however, it is completely self-directed by teachers and their classes; it requires no direction, facilitation, or awards from Antioch University. All the curricula is contained within this website and can be adapted in any way students and teachers see fit. The four primary phases of the curriculum: Challenge, Research, Proposal, and Action can be readily integrated into an existing science and social studies curriculum.