National Park Week…Did You Know?

Did you know that each year in April, America celebrates National Park Week, a chance to hike, learn, share, and give back in the Nation’s nearly 400 National Parks coast-to-coast? National Park Week is a chance for educators to get active and experience the powerful content knowledge, values, and skills embodied by our Nation’s remarkable cultural, natural, and recreational heritage — all for FREE!Students playing in park

This year’s National Park Week runs from April 20th to April 28th, with free admission to all national parks from Monday, April 22nd, to Friday, April 26th. There is a lot for school communities to discover about National Parks. For instance, Did Your Know…?

…That, over 250 teachers participate in a summer professional development experience called Teacher Ranger Teacher each year with the National Park Service? Teachers learn about park educational programs and resources while experiencing ranger talks, interpretive hikes, or monitoring wildlife in National Park Units.

Night Sky

…That, parks across the country will offer kid-friendly programs on National Junior Ranger Day – Saturday, April 20th. Last year, more than 800,000 children became Junior Rangers! In addition, the “Songs for Junior Rangers” CD has been awarded the Gold Seal from the Parent’s Choice Foundation in Spring 2013. The set includes a 20-page illustrated booklet of lyrics and photos, and a poster map.

…That many National Parks provide outstanding views of the night sky, and are a great place to be acquainted with our galactic neighborhood and look beyond our planet? The National Park Service has developed a Junior Ranger Night Explorer program, encouraging young park visitors to explore the dark side of their national parks.

Park ranger with students

…That Research Learning Centers (RLCs) provide the opportunity for educators to bring real-world, place-based science to students in accordance with state education standards? RLCs can help create an engaging and relevant experience for your students. In 2012, the RLCs partnered with over 200 K-12 schools and other educational organizations.

…That Hands on the Land, a national network of field classrooms, connects students, teachers, families, and volunteers to these special places all across America. Within the communities of Hands on the Land sites, public, non-profit, and private partners customize hands-on experiences using local natural, historical, and archaeological settings to bring classroom learning to life.

… That the National Park Service (NPS) is engaging in “Biodiversity Discovery,” a variety of efforts, such as bioblitzes, in which members of the public, including scientists, students, and visitors work together to discover living organisms in the parks.

Find a list of ranger-led programs and plan your adventures here. You can also use the website to share your park experiences and photos and help support parks.  Whether you are a teacher searching for classroom materials or a student doing research or service learning, find your local National Park here 

1 Comment

  1. Teaching is a profession. As a result, teachers really have to love their jobs to put up with a lot of the politically-based turnover that goes on at schools. Administers bully teachers to modify grades so that not-qualified students are passed on to the next level “because this is best for the school.” Well, what about the student, the country? We are forced to work with outdated tools while less technological advance (but tenured teachers) are allowed the latest tech tool(that they often do not use) just to let “sit” in the classroom. What a waste of tax dollars! While this does not happen at all schools, you know what I mean if you really “Teach” at a school. No wonder, the current data collected by nationwide and international sources on schools shows that on the average most US schools rank far below other 1st world countries and even further below some 3rd world countries when it comes to math and science scores.
    Schools are dynamic and so are the local educational systems. Yes, district should pay for faculty to update their skills yearly or every 3 years. There needs to be some educational reinforcements attached to tenure. First educate, reinforce skills, and then promote should be the construct for “Professional Development. As teachers, what we find ourselves subjected to is preferential treatment, a buddy system promotions based on every form of “ism” imaginable up to and including nepotism. Yes, your school believes in promoting from within and that’s good if it promotions actually enhances student development. Well, with state funds and more specifically Federal funds, we need to promote the most qualified teachers. If the Education system is to get out of mire of confusion and decline the school systems is presently in, it will have to overall from top down. These reforms are always coming from those who are not daily in the trenches.
    In order for true education reform to take place, enough of you will have to unite and stand up for each other and the students and say, “WE NEED REAL REFORM!”

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