A Step Closer to the Park
The National Park Service (NPS) is a significant educational institution, teaching visitors about the history, geology, ecology, and other aspects of the sacred landscapes under its management. The NPS also provides trusted educational resources to teachers and students so that they can continue to connect to parks from their own homes.
Patterned after the successful “Every Fourth Grader in the Park” program, the Distance Learning Program Expansion will develop the park’s distance learning program into a fully digital course where Zion rangers will be able to interact with students of all ages from across the country who may not otherwise be able to visit or learn about the desert park in person. Zion rangers will curate a new curriculum for higher grades, including middle school and high school students. This curriculum will connect directly to ongoing park science, such as night sky monitoring, paleontology, and water monitoring in the park. Curriculum aims to connect students to the natural environment as they learn about the history, biology, wildlife, and wilderness values of Zion, and demonstrate to them the importance of what they are learning. The expansion will also introduce students to the internships and career paths available in public land management.
In 2022, Zion rangers connected with over 8,000 students across 33 states and in three countries. Teachers across the globe have complimented the park’s current programs for their inventiveness and versatility, and complimented the program for presenting key information in a fun game show style that makes it engaging for a distracted younger audience. Many of these students have no experience with the outdoors and, for many, the distance learning program is their first time meeting a ranger. The larger goal of expanding this curriculum is to create excellent future stewards of park lands and to inspire the next generation to take better care of these national treasures.
Funding for this project will create a foundation of conservation and interest in public lands that Zion believes will pay dividends in the future and ensure the Zion Distance Learning studio remains an educational leader within the NPS, advising other park sites as they create their own virtual learning studios.