Local teacher helps turn park into the area's best classroom
National Park Foundation grants nearly $300,000 to 20 park steward programs across the country
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - As area students begin their summer vacations, Lori Rommel, a teacher at Grand Canyon High School in Grand Canyon National Park, is donning a National Park Service uniform to participate in immersive learning experiences that she will turn into service-based educational programs for students in the fall. The program is part of the National Park Foundation's Park Stewards Program, which helps build a deeper connection and sense of stewardship for national parks among high school students.
"This program will allow high school students to become personally engaged in their local national park while enhancing the park's oral history library," said SuZan Pearce, Environmental Education Specialist at Grand Canyon National Park. "Due to time and budget constraints, many oral histories of importance to the national park go unrecorded and are sometimes lost when people pass away or move on. This summer, we will be working with Lori Rommel to develop an oral history curriculum.
In the fall, her high school students will design and implement oral interviews with people who have been an important part of Grand Canyon's story, ultimately turning these over to Grand Canyon National Park. At least three other Arizona high schools will be selected to participate in this program next spring. The histories these students collect will be useful to historians and will allow park interpretive rangers to share these meaningful stories with the public."
"The Park Stewards Program creates a ripple effect as each teacher becomes a conduit for bringing classrooms of students to their national parks year after year," said Neil Mulholland, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation. "This program is an introduction for many students to their national parks, and the service learning projects they participate in can spark a connection to the parks that will last a lifetime."
Teachers begin their summer sessions by familiarizing themselves with a local national park, its resources, and staff responsibilities. Together, teachers and staff work to develop service-learning activities for their high school students that advance the park's mission, yet are broad enough to be applicable to local, state, and national education standards. As with Grand Canyon's oral history project, these service-learning activities allow students to apply academic knowledge, critical thinking skills and physical skills to addressing the needs of national parks and their visitors.
For a complete listing of national parks that are participating in the 2010 Park Stewards Program, please visit http://nationalparks.org/npf-at-work/our-programs/stewards/.
The Park Stewards Program is made possible with generous support from Bank of America and other private donors to the National Park Foundation.