Providing a National Park Experience for Local Title I Students
Imagine how amazing it would be to have Zion National Park right in your own backyard. For students in Washington, Iron, and Kane counties, this is their daily reality. While they may live just minutes from the park gates, too many of these children lack the resources to visit the park and connect meaningfully with the natural wonders surrounding them.
Zion Forever Project, in partnership with NPS and the various school districts, works to make sure Title I schools have an opportunity to bus children into the park for a day of fun and learning. More than 21 schools participated last year bringing 53 different classes into Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Spring. Each lesson plan is multi-disciplinary and helps meet Utah’s state education curriculum requirements, covering everything from the basics of geology to the principles of Leave No Trace to examining the ecosystems of various native plants and animals. The program also encourages nature journaling and quiet-time hikes that allow students to observe using all five of their senses.
More than 1900 students, teachers, and chaperones set foot in Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Spring last season, and the program is looking to expand learning opportunities to meet the rising demand. The goal for next year is to incorporate elements of distance learning so rangers can virtually enter the classrooms and prepare students to visit. They will also have follow-up sessions once the program is complete. The education team leading the project is hoping to use this funding to purchase supplies and hire additional staff. These improvements will broaden and enhance the program while maintaining its high level of service.