In honor of National Parks and Recreation Month in July, and also National Parks Month in August, I wanted to share an experience I had this summer that I believe can make a difference to many generations of students.
This June, I was fortunate to be able to visit two of our country’s National Parks. It was a trip I dreamed about ever since I was young. My husband and I were finally fortunate enough to be able to make the journey a reality. Some may be lucky to live close to and have access to visit and to take children or students to a national park, but for those who don’t, having the parks come to you may be more realistic then you imagined.
Although all our National Parks seem to have something magical to offer, we chose Yellowstone our country’s first National Park established in 1872 and Grand Teton National Park, because of its unique beauty and proximity to other National Forests and scenic byways. This allowed us to travel to small towns like Cook City Montana, and Jackson and Cody Wyoming, which really give you the feeling of going back in time to the “wild wild west”.
Besides being absolutely in awe of the beauty our National Parks, forests, and the other amazing places I had the opportunity to visit, I think I was most surprised by how much I learned. I learned not just about the parks themselves or science, but about geography and the history of our country.
Yellowstone National Park was amazing with its geysers including Old Faithful, the Mammoth Hot Springs, and Lamar Valley where you could see heards of buffalo, elk, antelope, mountain goat, and even catch a glimpse of Yellowstone’s bears and wolves. I saw lakes caused by earthquakes, volcano rims, canyons and waterfalls, and it even snowed in mid-June. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to see it all.
Throughout our travels in this 3500 square-mile park, located atop a volcanic hot spot, we stopped at many of the ranger stations for information and activities to do in each area of the park. The amount of Junior Ranger programs and how much fun they sounded made me wish I was a kid again. It really made me think every child should be able to experience something this magical.
The best news is, they can! Teachers can bring a group to Yellowstone with at least three weeks’ notice or have a ranger visit a school in the area. Not in the area? Here’s the most amazing thing I learned on my entire trip. Teachers anywhere can schedule a video conference with a Yellowstone Park Ranger on various different topics. Visit www.nps.gov to learn more.
You can also use the National Parks Month theme in August to add more lessons to your classroom. Have students keep a nature journal and write down where they would like to visit and why. Introduce them to different places they may not have been or even knew existed with a few DVD’s highlighting our National Parks.
Submitted by: Denise Carter, Product Manager at S&S Worldwide